The Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards and the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum provide athletics addicts with a one-two punch of sporting history, using priceless artifacts and multimedia exhibits to illuminate the lives and deeds of some of America’s greatest athletic heroes. Visit the Sultan of Swat’s first home, also known as The House That Built Ruth, to view the bedroom in which he was born, relics such as his childhood catcher’s mitt, and exhibits touching on his professional accomplishments and personal life.
With pieces ranging from pre-dynastic Egyptian art to art-deco jewelry and American masterpieces, The Walters Art Museum is internationally revered for its culturally enriching exhibits. This season, view the majestically elegant urns, metal boxes, trays, and vases of the Japanese Cloisonné Enamels from the Stephen W. Fisher Collection, or volunteer for the interactive experiment measuring art's mind manipulations at Beauty and the Brain: A Neural Approach to Aesthetics. Members will remain in the know, thanks to access to The Walters' 100,000-volume reference library, education programs, and interest groups.
Presidential dentures, a kid-sized dental chair, and interactive brushing instruction are some of the permanent exhibits spanning the space's two floors. The museum also boasts a life-size narwhal model, an exposé on saliva, and a celebration of our country's best dental schools. This upcoming season, stop in to pay homage to the tooth fairy for Tooth Fairy Day, or get a mouthful of mammals on Jaws and Paws Day. View a listing of upcoming events here. Take the whole family (admission for children ages 3–18 is $3, and those less than 2 are free), bring a bad-breathed date for a tutorial on mouth management, or instill yourself with a new sense of appreciation for the dentist.
Sitting on the treasured site of the first commercial long-distance track and passenger station in America, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum harbors one of the oldest and most comprehensive collections of train relics in the world. Weave through the 40-acre campus to discover more than 200 pieces of finely preserved locomotive and rolling-stock materials, which are flanked by hundreds of thousands of artifacts such as tools, art, uniforms, and memorabilia. The trainy display expertly lays out a timeline of America's railroad industry, its impact on culture, and the foolhardiness of starry-eyed tycoons.
While designing the first synagogue in Maryland, architect Robert Cary Long Jr. cleaved to graceful, Greek Revival lines and pillars. In 1845, his vision came to life in the Lloyd Street Synagogue, which welcomed the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation. Twenty-six years later, contention among the congregation about reforming its liturgy and ritual led some members to break off and form the Chizuk Amuno Congregation—who built their own Moorish Revival-style synagogue (known today as B’nai Israel Synagogue) right down the street from the first. Today, both places of worship nestle within the campus of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, formed in 1960 to rescue and restore the Lloyd Street Synagogue—which now claims the title of third-oldest standing synagogue in the United States.
The museum has gone beyond just restoring the historic place of worship, which included the preservation of its original 1845 mikveh, a ritual bath. It has built three exhibition galleries that interpret the Jewish-American experience, focusing on Jewish life in Maryland. Art, rare objects, photographs, and oral histories fill these spaces, forming rotating and permanent exhibits that delve into topics such as the symbolism and traditions of Jewish food and the evolution of the Jewish market on Lombard Street. In the lower level of the Lloyd Street Synagogue, a multimedia exhibit explores its three immigrant congregations.
Before leaving, visitors can stop by a gift shop to pick up necklaces with the Star of David, custom kippots, and toys. On the right day, guests can extend their visit to include events, or they can return for educational programming that teaches non-Jewish students about Judaism and guides teens in interfaith dialogues.
The historically curious can also make an appointment to trace genealogical roots at the Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center, found inside the museum’s Anne Adalman Goodwin Library. These form the JMM’s collections and research center, which boasts more than 150 major manuscript collections and 24,000 cataloged photographs.
The American Visionary Art Museum devotes its space to original work by self-taught artists who honed their craft—often unintentionally—while operating on the outskirts of the formal art world. As temporary exhibitions explore a particular artist or theme in depth, the permanent collection displays thousands of powerful and often whimsical items, such as Wayne Kusy’s Lusitania, a detailed toothpick replica of the doomed vessel, or the haunting Applewood Figure, an emaciated sculpture said to wince whenever someone eats a piece of fruit. The museum spreads its arresting pieces throughout three historical buildings, including the expansive main building, which boasts a reflective mirrored-mosaic exterior and neighbors the Tall Sculpture Barn, an ex-whiskey warehouse fully equipped with 45-foot ceilings for large-scale projects. A wildflower garden—complete with meditation chapel—and a sculpture plaza featuring a 55-foot whirligig beckon visitors to the museum's outdoor space, where envious clouds shape themselves into crude versions of Pietà. Completing any trip, the museum's Sideshow gift shop stuffs shopping bags with an ever-rotating collection of eclectic artwork, jewelry, toys, and more.