Two former preschool teachers banded together to create Explore & More Hands-On Children's Museum, a space designed to engage visitors?specifically, those between the ages of 2 and 8?with educational play. Located in a vintage 1810s house, the museum consists of seven themed rooms. Guests can glimpse into the past by entering the 1860s room, which houses a historical general store, or learn about hermit crabs, frogs, and other creatures in the nature area. Children experience the power of magnets first-hand in the exploration room, where they can also stand inside a giant soap bubble.
The paranormal investigators and tour guides of After Dark Investigations specialize in small-group tours that provide customers with hands-on experience and equipment. Ghost tourists utilize EMF detectors, dowsing rods, and infrared-video cameras to capture any potential appearance of apparitions. The tours stretch to locations such as cemeteries or abandoned amusement parks near the location of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Baltimore County's history stretches back nearly four centuries, and tracing and chronicling some 350 years of records, artifacts, and photographs is no small task. Just ask the Historical Society of Baltimore County, which houses thousands of historical pieces, including maps, photos, and books in an 1870s almshouse turned research center. The library houses hundreds of maps and primary sources from centuries past.
Mat About You's framing experts, whose work bedecks the walls of the Ritz Carlton, prepare everything from artwork to sports jerseys for eye-pleasing display. They pop pictures into ready-made frames or craft custom frames from their stock of molding to match patrons? aesthetic sensibilities. Staffers also nestle keepsakes into 3D shadow boxes, help restore damaged photographs, and tap into museum-quality conservation techniques to preserve historic documents and sports memorabilia, such as the first tennis ball ever repurposed for a game of fetch.
Mat About You also boasts an on-site gallery stocked with potential frame fodder, such as original art, limited edition gicl?e reproductions, and open-edition prints. Customers can add extra pizzazz to their home decor thanks to the store's boutique collection, which brims with jewelry, furniture, pottery and ceramics, and garden adornments.
At the Fire Museum of Maryland, visitors learn the importance of fire safety through a trip through the history of firefighting. With vintage equipment and trucks, and even the fa?ade of a 1871 fire station, the museum is rife with relics that highlight how firefighting has changed through the years.
Size: The museum displays 40 antique fire engines, as well as gear that dates back to the early 1800s.
Eye Catcher: Museum staff carefully restored the cast-iron fa?ade of Baltimore Engine Co. #8; behind it lies an exhibit called Life of a Fireman, with the trappings of a typical firehouse.
Tribute: The Charles T. Holloway exhibit celebrates Baltimore's most famous firefighter, displaying his retirement watch as well as other artifacts from his life.
Hands-On Activities: In one corner of the museum, kids can try on firefighter gear and marvel at how much lighter it is than their bookbags.
Special Programs: Museum staff have carefully curated seven different tours, geared toward different age groups. In one, kids learn fire safety by working to rescue someone from a burning building; in another, adults see firsthand how the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 was overcome.
Praise: CBS Baltimore named it one of the five best children's museums in Maryland.
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Staff Size: 25?50
Parking: Parking garage
Most popular offering: African-American art, history, culture
Pro Tip: $6 validated parking is directly across the street at the PMI Parking Garage.
Good for Kids: Yes
Walk-ins Welcome: Yes
The Reginald F. Lewis Museum celebrates the achievements of African Americans, especially those from Maryland?which often means expanding on grade-school history lessons. For instance, Betsy Ross is typically credited with making the first American flag. However, one of the museum's rotating exhibits reveals that Grace Wisher, an African American indentured servant, also worked on the original star spangled banner. Dubbed "For Whom It Stands: The Flag and the American People," that exhibit was recognized as one of the country's best in the summer of 2014 by USA Today?in part because it featured a scrap of the real, first flag, covered in the bald eagle feathers that filled the air back then. That's just one of the myriad rotating exhibits that the museum has hosted, to complement permanent collections that highlight Maryland African Americans' endurance through two centuries of slavery, and their artistic and intellectual innovations.
What sets your business apart from your competition?
A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum is the east coast?s largest African-American museum. Besides rotating exhibitions, enjoy live musical performances from gospel jazz to steel drums. Films in our theater have enriched audiences on the history of soul food, civil rights, and more. For families, programs like art workshops and living history bring our mission to life. Lectures and our resource center enrich what you'll find in our permanent collection. We also nourish the body with the best soul food in Baltimore at our museum cafe. Visit our website for a full calendar of events.
What was the inspiration for starting this business?
To showcase the rich contributions of Maryland African Americans, from Harriet Tubman and Thurgood Marshall to the unsung heroes who helped make Maryland what it is today.
What?s your favorite part about your job?
Having people experience something new, different, and enriching to their lives.