The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Walters Art Museum

This public art museum, founded and opened in 1934, holds collections substantially amassed by major American art and sculpture collector William Thompson Walters, (1819–1894) and his son Henry Walters (1848–1931), who refined the collection and made arrangements for the construction of a later landmark building to rehouse it. The entire collection of then more than 22,000 works was bequeathed by Henry Walters upon his death in 1931.

The museum entrance

The collection includes  masterworks of ancient EgyptGreek sculpture, Roman sarcophagi, medieval ivories, illuminated manuscripts, Renaissance bronzes, Old Master European and 19th-century paintings, Chinese ceramics and bronzes, Art Deco jewelry, and ancient Near East, Mesopotamian, or ancient Middle East items.

The palazzo-style collonade

The elaborate stone palazzo-styled structure, Henry Walters’ original gallery, was designed by architect William Adams Delano and erected between 1904 and 1909. Its exterior was inspired by the Renaissance-revival-style Hôtel Pourtalès in Paris while  its interior was modeled after the 17th-century “Collegio dei Gesuiti” (now the Palazzo dell’Università, built by the Balbi family for the Jesuits in Genoa). It houses the arts of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, French decorative arts of the 18th and 19th centuries, manuscripts and rare books.

The author at the Sculpture Court

The Centre Street Annex Building, at the rear of the original main gallery, was designed by the Boston firm of Shepley, Bullfinch, Richardson, and Abbott, in the “Brutalist” poured-concrete style, an extremely modernistic style prevalent in the 1960s. This annex building, opened in 1974, has several horizontal lines paralleled with features in the 1909 structure.

Medieval World lobby. At left is the “Virgin and Child” (Burgundian, ca. 1425) while at center is an altarpiece with the Passion of Christ

From 1998 to 2001, it was substantially altered by Kallmann McKinnell and Wood, Architects.  A soaring, four-storey glass atrium was provided, with a suspended staircase at the juncture between the older and newer buildings, and a new entrance lobby along Centre Street. Today, the conjoined buildings has five floors with 39 intimate galleries for smaller works. The collection has also grown, by later gifts and purchases, to 35,000 works.

Ancient World Lobby

The new lobby, which provides easier ground-level handicapped access along with enhanced security provisions for both collections and visitors, also has a café, an enlarged museum, gift store and a reference library.

Portrait of Henry Walters (1938, Thomas Cromwell Corner, American)

The museum’s famed art conservation laboratory, one of the oldest in the country, is also found here. With its large display walls and irregular corridors and galleries, the Centre Street Annex Building houses the ancientByzantinemedievalEthiopian, and 19th-century European collections.

Adam and Eve (ca. 1515) on main staircase to Sculpture Court

Originally called “The Walters Art Gallery,” the museum changed its long-time name to “The Walters Art Museum” in 2000 to reflect its image as a large public institution and eliminate confusion among some of the increasing out-of-state visitors.

17th Century Dutch Cabinet Rooms

In 2001, after a dramatic 3-year physical renovation and replacement of internal utilities and infrastructure, “The Walters” (as it is often known in the city) reopened its original main building.

The Upper Stair Hall. At near left is the “Allegory of Knowledge of Things” while on the right is the Choir Gate (1700-1750)

Starting on October 1, 2006, as a result of substantial grants given by Baltimore City and the surrounding suburban Baltimore County arts agencies and authorities, the museum began having free admission year-round. In 2012, “The Walters” released nearly 20,000 of its own images of its collections (one of the largest and most comprehensive such releases made by any museum), on a Creative Commons license, and collaborated in their upload to the world-wide web and the internet on Wikimedia Commons.

The two monumental 3,000-pound statues of the Egyptian lion-headed fire goddess Sekhmet at the entrance to the Egyptian Art Exhibit

The Walters’ collection of ancient art, one of the largest assemblages in the United States, includes examples from EgyptNubiaGreeceRomeEtruria and the Near East.

Egyptian Art – Seated Statue of Nehy (ca. 1250-1230 BC, New Kingdom, 19th Dynasty)

The second floor houses The Ancient World (Ancient Treasury, Near Eastern Art, Egyptian Art, Greek Art, Etruscan Art, Roman Art), European Art (Entry Hall of Arms and Armor, Chamber of Wonders, 17th Century Dutch Cabinet Rooms, 18th and 19th Century Treasury) and the Sculpture Court.

Egyptian Art – Mummy and Painted Cartonnage of an Unknown Woman (850-750 BC)

The Walters’ collection of ancient art, one of the largest assemblages in the United States, includes examples from EgyptNubiaGreeceRomeEtruria and the Near East.

Egyptian Art – Mummy Mask of a High Official (ca. 2000-1980 BCE, Middle Kingdom)

The collection of ancient Egyptian and Nubian art, dating from prehistoric to Roman Egypt (5th millennium BC– 4th century AD ), include statuary (the most impressive pieces are two monumental 3,000-pound statues of the Egyptian lion-headed fire goddess Sekhmet); stelae; the intact Walters Mummy (still in its elaborate wrappings); reliefs; sarcophagi; funerary objects; impressive jewelry and objects from daily life as well as images of private individuals and kings.

Ancient Near Eastern Art

Art from the Near East includes alabaster reliefs from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II.

Greek Art Exhibit

The Walters’ outstanding collection of ancient Greek  art, illustrating the history and culture of Greece from the Cycladic to the Hellenistic period (ca. 3rd millennium–1st century BC), includes engraved gemstones; dazzling gold jewelry (including extraordinary Greek bracelets, encrusted with multicolored gemstones, from Olbia on the shores of the Black Sea); exceptional vases, and marble statues (including the Praxitelean Satyr)

Etruscan Art

The most treasured objects in the collection of ancient Roman art at the Walters includes a large assemblage of Roman portrait heads (including powerful depictions of the emperors Augustus and Marcus Aurelius); exquisite Etruscan bronzes, a Roman bronze banquet couch, and seven marble sarcophagi, among the finest in the world, with intricate marble carvings depicting mythological scenes, from the tombs of the prominent Licinian and Calpurnian families in Rome.

Roman Art

Ancient Treasury

The 18th and 19th century Treasury displays portrait miniatures, examples of goldsmiths’ works (especially snuffboxes and watches) along with some exceptional 19th- and early-20th-century works. Among them are examples of Art Nouveau-styled jewelry by René Lalique, jeweled objects by the House of Fabergé, including two Russian Imperial Easter eggs, and precious jewels by Tiffany and Co. of New York City.

18th and 19th Century Treasury

18th and 19th Century Treasury

Three galleries (Entry Hall of Arms and Armor, Chamber of Wonders and Collector’s Private Study), dedicated to European art of the 15th to 17th centuries, suggest a 1600s collection that might have been the pride of a sophisticated nobleman in the Spanish Netherlands (present-day Belgium).

Entry Hall of Arms and Armor

The Entry Hall of Arms and Armor , reflecting traditions of chivalry and the noble values of family honor is, in part, based on the installation at the Habsburg palace Schloss Ambras just outside Innsbruck (Austria).

Chamber of Wonders

The Collector’s Private Study is where small, intricate objects were kept close at hand.  The more spacious Chamber of Art and Wonders (or Constkamer, as such a space was known in the Spanish Netherlands), is a faithful recreation of a cabinet of curiosity and has cabinets full of natural history specimens, as well as art objects from the museum’s collection.

Jandy exploring the hallway with displays of Renaissance Ceramics

The third floor houses The Medieval World Galleries (Byzantine, Russian and Ethiopian Icons, Early Byzantine Art, Migration and Early Medieval Art, Medieval World Lobby, Romanesque and Gothic Art, The Great Room, Upper Stair Hall, Islamic Art, Islamic Arms and Armor) and Renaissance & Baroque Galleries (13th-15th Century Italian Art, 15th Century Art of Northern Europe, 15th Century Italian Art, 16th Century Italian Art, 17th Century Art, 18th Century Art, Renaissance Ceramics)

Byzantine, Russian and Ethiopian Icons

The Walters’ collection contains one of the largest assemblages of art produced during the Middle Ages (extends from the 4th  to the end of the 14th century, or from the disintegration of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the Renaissance in western Europe in all the major artistic media of the period).

The author (left) entering the “15th Century Art of Northern Europe”exhibit. At right is an altarpiece with the Passion of Christ (ca. 1492-1495, Late Medieval Renaissance).

The Walters’ Medieval collection, for which the museum is best known internationally, is considered one of the best collections of Medieval art in the United States.  Spanning the Medieval world from the eastern Mediterranean to Western Europe, the museum’s Medieval art collection features a wide range of remarkable objects including examples of metalwork, sculpture, stained glass, textiles, icons, and other paintings.

Romanesque and Gothic Art

The Walters’ collection is especially renowned for its particularly strong holdings of ivories, enamels, liturgical vessels, reliquaries and illuminated manuscripts.

Early Byzantine Art

The Walters’ Medieval collection features unique objects such as the Byzantine agate Rubens Vase that belonged to the painter Rubens (accession no. 42.562) and the earliest-surviving image of the Virgin of Tenderness, an ivory carving produced in Egypt in the 6th or 7th century (accession no. 71.297). Sculpted heads from the royal Abbey of St. Denis are rare surviving examples of portal sculptures that are directly connected with the origins of Gothic art in 12th-century France (accession nos. 27.21 and 27.22). An ivory casket covered with scenes of jousting knights is one of about a dozen such objects to survive in the world (accession no. 71.264).

Migration and Early Medieval Art

The Walters also displays Late Medieval devotional Italian paintings by painters such as Tommaso da ModenaPietro LorenzettiAndrea di Bartolo (Resurrection), Alberto SotioBartolomeo di Tommaso (Death of Saint Francis), Naddo CeccarelliMaster of Saint VerdianaNiccolo di Segna (Saint Lucy), OrcagnaOlivuccio di CiccarelloMaster of Panzano Triptych and Giovanni del Biondo.

The Rubens Vase (agate, gold, Byzantine Art. ca 400)

Henry Walters  took an early interest in Byzantine art, buying at a time when there were limited collectors in this field, and the museum also holds one of the leading collections of Byzantine Art in the United States.

Jewelry Box with Dancers and Faun (4th to 6th Century)

Sarcophagus Fragment with the Good Shepherd (early 4th century)

The Walters’ Byzantine art collection, supported by an important collection of Russian and Orthodox icons, includes a group of over two thousand decorative tile fragments, early Byzantine silver, post-Byzantine art, the Kaper Koraon Treasure  and illuminated manuscripts. The museum also houses the largest and finest collection of Ethiopian Orthodox Church art outside Ethiopia.

13th-15th Century Italian Art

15th Century Italian Art

The collection of Renaissance, Baroque and 18th-century European art, the breadth of which offers a comprehensive display of the arts during this artistically fertile period, features one of the most significant holdings of Italian paintings, many of which were acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection (a previously unprecedented purchase of the contents of an Italian villa) plus sculpture, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, jewelry, arms and armor, and locks and keys.

16th Century Italian Art

17th Century Art

The best-known works include Hugo van der Goes‘ Donor with Saint John the BaptistHeemskerck‘s Panorama with the Abduction of Helen Amidst the Wonders of the Ancient WorldGiambattista Pittoni‘s Sacrifice of Polyxena, the Madonna of the Candelabra (from the studio of Raphael), Veronese’s Portrait Of Countess Livia da Porto Thiene and her Daughter PorziaEl Greco‘s Saint Francis Receiving the StigmataBernini‘s “bozzetto” of the Risen Christ, Tiepolo‘s Scipio Africanus Freeing Massiva, and The Ideal City attributed to Fra Carnevale. The museum has one of ten surviving examples of the Sèvres pot-pourri vase in the shape of a ship from the 1750s and 1760s.

18th Century Art

The Walters’ collection presents an overview of 19th-century European art, particularly European art works by late-19th-century academic masters and Impressionists from France.  Because of his notorious Southern-leanings, William Walters, with his family, stayed in Paris during the Civil War.

The Cafe-Concert (1879, Edouard Manet)

Here, he soon developed a keen interest in contemporary European painting and he commissioned, either directly from the artists or purchased at auctions, such major works by the Barbizon masters (Jean-François Millet and Henri Rousseau); academic masters (Jean-Léon Gérôme and Lawrence Alma-Tadema) and modernists (MonetManet, Sisley and  the Italian Antonio Rotta).

Odalisque with Slave (1842, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres)

From the first half of the century comes major paintings by Ingres, Géricault, and Delacroix.  Highlights of the collection include Odalisque with Slave by Ingres (a second version); Claude Monet’s SpringtimeAlfred Sisley‘s panoramic view of the Seine Valley; and  The Café Concert, Édouard Manet’s realist masterpiece.

Fortune (1900, Sevres Porcelain Factory, Augustin Moreau-Vauthier)

The Dancer (1900, Sevres Porcelain Factory, Agathon Leonard)

The museum’s collection of Sèvres porcelain (Henry Walters was particularly interested in the courtly arts of 18th-century France) includes a number of pieces that were made for members of the Royal Bourbon Court at Versailles Palace outside of Paris.

Islamic Art

Islamic art in all artistic media, encompassing the entire realm of artistic production in those lands where, from the 7th century onward, the Muslim religion took hold (territory that, at its height, stretched from present-day Spain and North Africa westward to India), is represented at the Walters, reflecting the cultural diversity and geographical range of Islamic cultures.

Islamic Art

It includes not only objects used in the service of religion but also those created for the courts of the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as articles used in everyday life.

Iznik Plate with a depiction of an Ewer (late 16th century, Early Modern)

Basin (early mid-15th century, Late Medieval)

Among the highlights are a 7th-century carved and hammered silver bowl from Iran that demonstrates the continuation of Sassanian traditions in early Muslim Persia; a 13th-century candlestick made of copper, silver, and gold from the Mamluk era in Egypt; 16th-century mausoleum doors decorated with intricate wood carvings in a radiating star pattern; a delicate 17th-century silk sash from the Mughal Empire in India; and a 17th-century Turkish tile with an image of the Masjid al-Haram (“Great Mosque of Mecca”), the center of Islam in Mecca, (modern Saudi Arabia).

Tile with the Great Mosque of Mecca (17th century, Ottoman)

The Walters Museum owns an array of Islamic manuscripts that include a 15th-century Koran from northern India (executed at the height of the Timurid Empire); a 16th-century copy of the “Khamsa of Nizami” by Amir Khusraw (illustrated by a number of famous artists for the Emperor Akbar); and a Turkish calligraphy album by Sheikh Hamadullah Al-Amasi (one of the greatest calligraphers of all time).

Islamic Arms and Armor

The ongoing, 18-month, special exhibition “From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story, spanning the entire fourth floor of the museum, celebrates the museum’s 80th anniversary by examining the legacy of founders William and Henry Walters.

A Roman Emperor Claudius (1871, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema)

The Attack at Dawn (1877, Alphonse de Neuville)

It brings together, in 7 galleries, an extraordinary group of art and artifacts that illustrates the intriguing stories behind the Walters family’s magnificent gift to the city.

Walter Mountain Distilleries Whiskey Bottle and Tumblers with WTW Monogram

The “rye” in the exhibit name refers to the trade in rye whiskey that served as the basis of the family fortune while “Raphael” refers to the “Madonna of the Candelabra” (depicting Mary and Christ as divine royals) painting (not on view in the exhibition) by Renaissance master Raphael, purchased by Henry in 1901, the artist’s first Virgin and Child to enter a United States collection..

From Rye to Raphael – The Walters Story

Alongside Walters family photographs and historic material culled from the archives, it features 200 works chosen for their beauty and craftsmanship. Much of it comes from the museum’s permanent collection while other previously unseen objects were selected from the museum’s archives.

A Roman Slave Market (1884) by Jean Leon Gerome, depicting an eroticized nude female slave, seen from behind standing on a scaffold as men below call out their bids is, perhaps, the most sensuous image in the show but is also easily the most disturbing.

Its highlights include a 19th-century salon-style gallery (re-creating a room in the original Walters residence at 5 West Mount Vernon Place that was crammed floor to ceiling and wall to wall with artworks, gold frames gleaming against plum wallpaper) and a gallery of French works by such painters as Eugene Delacroix, Jean-Jacques Rosseau and Jean-Leon Gerome.

The Young Girl of Bou-Saada (Susse Freres Foundry, Ernest Barrias)

The Walters Art Museum: 600 North Charles Street, Mount Vernon-BelvedereBaltimoreMaryland 21201, United States.  Tel: +1 410-547-9000. Open Wednesdays to Sundays, 10 AM –5 PM (9 PM on Thursdays), closed Mondays,  Tuesdays, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Website: www.thewalters.org.

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine – Birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner (Baltimore, Maryland, USA)

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historical Shrine

This historical American coastal pentagonal bastion fort is best known for its role in the War of 1812, when it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from the September 13–14, 1814 attack by the British navy from Chesapeake Bay. The fort, a prominent tourist destination, is visited each year by thousands of visitors who come to see the “Birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner.”

Entrance to Fort McHenry

It’s also a popular spot for Baltimoreans to run, walk their dogs, enjoy a picnic or just sit by the waters of Chesapeake Bay  and enjoy the breeze and views of the city.

View of Baltimore Harbor as seen from the fort

Listed are some interesting trivia regarding the fort:

  • This was named after early American statesman James McHenry (November 16, 1753 – May 3, 1816), a Scots-Irish immigrant and surgeon-soldier who was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Maryland and a signer of the United States Constitution. Afterwards, he was appointed United States Secretary of War (1796–1800), serving under Presidents George Washington and John Adams.
  • Fort McHenry was built on the site of the former Fort Whetstone which stood on Whetstone Point (today’s residential and industrial area of Locust Point) peninsula, which juts into the opening of Baltimore Harbor between the Basin (today’s Inner Harbor) and Northwest branch on the north side and the Middle and Ferry (now Southern) branches of the Patapsco River on the south side. The fort defended Baltimore from 1776 to 1797.
  • The new fort, built to improve the defenses of the increasingly important Port of Baltimore from future enemy attacks, is a bastioned pentagon, surrounded by a dry moat (a deep, broad trench) that served as a shelter from which infantry might defend the fort from a land attack. In case of such an attack on this first line of defense, each point, or bastion could provide a crossfire of cannon and small arms fire.
  • During the War of 1812, the 5.2 m. × 7.6 m. (17 ft. by 25 ft.) storm flag flown over Fort McHenry during the bombardment was replaced early on the morning of September 14, 1814 with a larger 9.1 m. × 12.8 m. (30 ft. by 42 ft.) garrison flag, sewn by Mary Pickersgill for $405.90, which signaled American victory over the British in the Battle of Baltimore. Francis Scott Key, a Washington lawyer who had come to Baltimore to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes, a civilian prisoner of war, witnessed the bombardment from a nearby truce ship. The sight of the ensign inspired him  to write the poem “Defense of Fort M’Henry.” The poem was later set to the tune “To Anacreon in Heaven” and become known as the “Star Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the United States.
  • It has become national tradition that when a new flag is designed, it first flies over Fort McHenry. The first official 49- and 50-star American flags were flown over the fort. The flags are still located on the premises.
  • In the event of a national emergency, the United States Codecurrently authorizes Fort McHenry’s closure to the public for use by the military for the duration of such an emergency.
  • Every September, the City of Baltimore commemorates Defenders Day in honor of the Battle of Baltimore. It is the biggest celebration of the year at the fort, it is accompanied by a weekend of programs, events and fireworks.
  • In 2013, under the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine was honored with its own quarter.

The barracks

Here is a timeline of the fort’s history:

  • Designed by Frenchman Jean Foncin in 1798, the fort was built between 1798 and 1800.
  • During World War I, in order to convert the entire facility into an enormous U.S. Army hospital for the treatment of troops returning from the European conflict, an additional one hundred odd buildings (only a few of them remain) were built on the land surrounding the fort.
  • On September 13, 1814, beginning at 6 AM, British warships, under the command of Vice-Admiral Alexander Cochrane, continuously bombarded Fort McHenry, under the command of Major George Armistead (April 10, 1780 – April 25, 1818) of the 3rd Regiment of U. S. Artillery, for 25 hours. The British ships were unable to pass Fort McHenry and penetrate Baltimore Harbor because of its defenses which included a chain of 22 sunken ships and the American’s 8, 11 and 16 kg. (18, 24 and 32-pounder) cannons.  The British guns had a range of 3 kms. (2 miles) and their rockets had a 2.8 km. (1.75-mile) range, neither of which, fired at maximum range, were accurate. At one point during the bombardment, a bomb crashed through the fort’s powder magazine but,  fortunately for the Americans, either the rain extinguished the fuse or the bomb was a dud.
  • On the morning of September 14, the British, having depleted their ammunition, ceased their attack. Only one British warship, a bomb vessel, received a direct hit from the fort’s return fire, which wounded one crewman. The Americans lost four killed (including Private William Williamsan African-American soldier, and a woman who was cut in half by a bomb as she carried supplies to the troops) and 24 wounded.
  • During the American Civil War, Fort McHenry served as a military prison, confining  Confederate soldiers as well as a large number of Maryland political figures (including newly elected Baltimore Mayor George William Brown, the city council, the new police commissioner, George P. Kane; members of the Maryland General Assembly; several newspaper editors and owners; John Eager Howard,(local hero of the Revolutionary War; and Francis Scott Key‘s grandson, Francis Key Howard) who were suspected of being Confederate At this time, Fort McHenry also served to train artillery (hence the Rodman guns presently located and displayed at the fort).
  • During World War II, Fort McHenry was leased to the Coast Guard for port security work and as a fire training station aboard ships for nearly 28,000 U.S. Coast Guardsmen.
  • In 1925, the fort was made a national park
  • In 1931, the fort was finally deactivated and transferred to the National Park Service .
  • On August 11, 1939, it was redesignated a “National Monument and Historic Shrine, the only such doubly designated place in the United States.
  • On October 15, 1966, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • On September 10–16, 2014, the Star Spangled Spectacular was held at Fort McHenry to celebrate the bicentennial of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. The event included a parade of tall ships, a large fireworks show and the US Navy’s Blue Angels.

The Visitor Center

The kid-friendly Visitor Center has a Park Ranger-staffed information desk, book and souvenir store, a large museum, restrooms and a meeting place for Ranger programs.

The Park Ranger-staffed information desk

The kid-friendly Visitor Center has a Park Ranger-staffed information desk, book and souvenir store, a large museum, restrooms and a meeting place for Ranger programs.

Francis Scott Key and the Birth of the Star Spangled Banner. At right is the original draft of the song

The museum is divided into three main areas of interest. The first section, “Francis Scott Key and the Birth of the Star Spangled Banner,” is devoted to Francis Scott Key, the Star Spangled Banner, and the flag. An interactive touch-screen presentation details Key’s schedule leading up to his writing of the poem.

The Star Spangled Banner and the War of 1812.  At the right is a uniform, 2 muskets (one with bayonet), powder horn and personal items of a soldier

The second area of the museum, where I spent about an hour, focused on the War of 1812. Its interactive touch-screen presentation, a key exhibit, allowed me to read about every battle in the war. Also on exhibit are military memorabilia such as uniforms and a cannon as well as personal items used by soldiers.

A cannon

A second section of the museum covers the Battle of Baltimore, with its centerpiece being a 10-minute film about the Battle of Baltimore, a combination of live action and CGI animated battle maps, and ends with an inspirational rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” with the audience standing and singing along, as the curtain rises to reveal the flag at Fort McHenry outside.

L-R: Kyle, Cheska and Grace.  Behind is a copy of the original storm flag of the garrison

Film showings occur at the top of every hour and every half hour and its movie screen is part of the overall museum.  During the showing,  the lights were turned down, rendering the rest of the museum essentially shut down during this time. Only the exhibits that are backlit, such as the interactive touch-screens, can be seen.

Jandy at the entrance of the fort

The actual wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly fort is just a short walk from the Visitor Center.  Outside the fort were re-enacters such as women hand washing the service men’s clothes, sewing a flag and learning how to write on slate boards. Inside were probably a dozen servicemen in full dress and carrying muskets.

Women re-enacters

Servicemen in uniform

Within the fort are exhibits on a variety of topics relating to the fort and its history such as the restored Commander’s Quarters, Junior Officers’ Quarters, Guard House and the Enlisted Men’s Quarters, all mainly devoted to garrison life during its most famous period of the War of 1812; the Gunpowder Magazine  as well as the restored flag pole.  The flag flown here is not the size of the fabled Star-Spangled Banner, but is a garrison flag that is four sizes smaller. 

George Armistead

Junior Officers’ Quarters

Outside the fort proper is a reconstruction of the Upper Battery which, during the 1814 attack, was largely manned by volunteer militia artillerymen and merchant seamen (from ships within blockaded Baltimore Harbor) and armed with large-caliber smooth bore guns mounted on naval trucks or garrison carriages. They had wooden trucks with iron wheels and, to prevent their excessive recoil when fired, were attached to the wall by rope cables. 

Upper Battery

The fort also boasts a fine collection of mid-nineteenth century artillery pieces. The Lower Battery, with brick-reinforced earthen rampart (replacing the earth-and-wooden one of the War of 1812), have circa 1875 15-inch Rodman smoothbore guns of Civil War vintage that were sleeved with rifled inserts.

The author with the Rodman cannons in the background

Adjacent to Fort McHenry lies a monument of Orpheus that is dedicated to the soldiers of the fort and Francis Scott Key.

Monument of Orpheus by Charles Niehaus

Statue of Col. George Armistead

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine: 2400 East Fort Ave, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, USA. Tel: +1-410-962-4290. Open daily, 9 AM – 6 PM (5 PM in the winter), closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission: adults (US$10), children 15 years old and younger (free).

How to Get There: The fort is easily accessible by water taxi from the popular Baltimore Inner Harbor. However, to prevent abuse of the parking lots at the Fort, the National Park Service does not permit passengers to take the water taxi back to the Inner Harbor unless they have previously used it to arrive at the monument.

USS Constellation Museum (Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.)

USS Constellation with Museum Gallery at left

After our visit to the World War II vintage cutter USCGC Taney, Jandy, Kyle and I walked some distance, from Pier 1, to get to Pier 5 where the museum ship USS Constellation, a sloop-of-war/corvette is berthed, the last of two ships we were to visit using our Squadron Pass. This would our first time to go aboard and explore a three-masted sailing ship.

The author with the USS Constellation in the background

Now a part of Historic Ships in Baltimore, Constellation and her companions are major contributing elements in the Baltimore National Heritage Area.

Check out “The Historic Ships of Baltimore

Exhibit at Museum Gallery

Here are some interesting trivia regarding the Constellation:

  • It had a length of 60.96 m. (200 ft.), a beam width of 13.11 m. (43 ft.), a draft of 6.4 m. (21 ft.), displaced 1,400 lbs. and had a typical operating crew of 285 including a Marine detachment of 45.
  • She was built using some recycled materials salvaged from the old, 38-gun frigate USS Constellation (launched in 1797), which had been disassembled the year before at Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia. She is the second U.S. Navy ship to carry this famous name.
  • In 1955, when the sloop-of-war was brought to Baltimore as a museum ship, it was under the mistaken belief that it was its predecessor, the 1797 frigate Constellation. Over the next four decades, the 1854 ship was “restored” to look like the older ship. In the early 1990s, a US Navy research team, led by Dana Wegner, conclusively proved the ship’s true identity.
  • Despite being a single-gun deck “sloop,” she was actually larger than her original frigate built, and more powerfully armed, with fewer (22) but much more potent shell-firing guns.  On commissioning, she had 16 x VIII-inch shell guns, 4 x 32-pounder guns and 2 x X-inch pivot mounted shell guns. During the American Civil War, she was equipped with 16 x VIII-inch shell Dahlgren guns (primary), 4 x 32-pounder guns (secondary), 1 x 30-pounder pivot mounted Parrott Rifle (bow) and 1 x 20-pounder pivot mounted Parrott Rifle (stern). She also had 3 x 12-pounder bronze howitzers for close-in fighting.
  • Her sail rigging, typical of the time, was set across 3 primary masts.
  • She had a surface speed of 21 knots (14 mph).
  • She is the last existing intact naval vessel, still afloat, from the American Civil War.
  • She was one of the last wind-powered (sail-only) warships built by the United States Navy.
  • She has been assigned the hull classification symbol IX-20.
  • About one-half of the lines used to rig the vessel are present (amounting to several miles of rope and cordage).

Here is the historical timeline of this ship:

  • Designed by John Lenthall, she was constructed at the Norfolk Navy Yard
  • Launched on August 26, 1854 and commissioned on July 28, 1855, with Captain Charles H. Bell in command, the Constellation  performed largely diplomatic duties, from 1855 to 1858, as part of the S. Mediterranean Squadron.
  • On July 1856, while on station, Constellation was dispatched to protect American lives and property at Malaga, Spain, during a revolution in that country.
  • That same year, while cruising in the Sea of Marmora, she rescued a barque in distress, receiving, from the court of the Austrian emperor, an official message in appreciation.
  • From 1859 to 1861, she was the flagship of the 8-ship Africa Squadron, taking part in African Slave Trade Patrol operations to disrupt the Atlantic slave trade. The ship interdicted three slave ships and released the imprisoned Africans.
  • On December 21, 1859, the Constellation captured the  Delicia, a brig fitted out as a slave ship (but with no slaves on board) which was without colors or papers to show her nationality.
  • On September 26, 1860, she captured the Cora, a “fast little bark” with 705 slaves who were set free in Monrovia, Liberia.
  • On May 21, 1861, in African coastal waters, the Constellation overpowered the Charleston-registered Triton, a slaver brig, one of the U.S. Navy’s first captures during the American Civil War.
  • During the Civil War, she spent much of the war in the Mediterranean Sea as a deterrent to Confederate cruisers and commerce raiders.
  • After the Civil War, Constellation spent a number of years as a receiving ship (floating naval barracks) in Norfolk, and later in Philadelphia, until 1869.
  • From March to July 1878, she carried exhibits to the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris
  • From March to June 1880, during the 1879 Irish famine, she carried 2,500 barrels of flour and potatoes for famine victims in Ireland.
  • In 1894, after being used as a practice ship for Naval Academy midshipmen, the Constellation became a training ship for Naval Training Center Newport.
  • During World War I, she helped train more than 60,000 recruits.
  • Decommissioned in 1933, the Constellation was recommissioned in 1940, by President Franklin Roosevelt, as a national symbol.
  • During World War II, she remained in Newport, spending much her time as relief (i.e. reserve) flagship for the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. From May 21, 1941, the Constellation was the relief flagship for Ernest J. King and, later, from January 19 to July 20, 1942 and from 1943 to 1944, for his replacement Vice Admiral Royal E. Ingersoll.
  • In October 1946, the Constellation was moved to Boston, where she was kept, together with the venerable USS Constitution, as a naval relic. She remained in commission until 1954.
  • Decommissioned, for the last time, on February 2, 1955, she was moved to Baltimore and taken to her permanent berth.
  • On May 23, 1963, the Constellation was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
  • On October 15, 1966, she was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • In 1994, the Constellation was condemned as an unsafe vessel. Her rigging was removed an she was closed to the public.
  • In 1996, she was towed to a drydock at Sparrows Point, near Fort McHenry, and a US$9 million rebuilding and restoration project was undertaken and completed on July 2, 1999. In an attempt to safeguard the wood planking, the hull from the waterline to the keel was covered in a fiberglass coating and painted an aqua-blue.
  • On October 26, 2004, Constellation made her first trip, since 1955, out of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Lasting six days, the trip to the S. Naval Academy in Annapolis  marked her first trip to Annapolis in 111 years.
  • In late 2012, it was determined the wood hull behind the fiberglass sheathing, installed during the 1996–98 rebuilding, contained significant rotting.
  • From 2014 to 2015, over a 6-month period, the ship was again put in dry dock and rebuilt with fresh (and chemically treated to resist rotting) wood planking.
  • In late March 2015, the rebuilt ship was returned to her Inner Harbor berth and her rigging was completed
  • By May 2015, she was again opened to the public.

Top or spar deck

20 pounder, pivot-mounted Parrott Rifle at the stern

To get aboard, we had to enter the two-storey Museum Gallery Building (where USS Constellation’s history is portrayed through artifacts and personal effects which belonged to the ship’s crew), climb the stairs to the second floor and cross a gangplank to the ship.

Kyle at the gun deck

Jandy beside a VIII-inch Dahlgren gun

Nearly all of the ship was accessible during our tour. We went down to all 4 wooden decks, each one different, and there were plenty of things to see on each.

Ship’s Stove

Galley Provisions

Compared to the USCGC Taney, the Constellation’s stairs leading to the lower decks , though still steep and narrow, were still much easier to go up and down.

Check out “USCGC Taney

Bilge and Fire Pump

Arms Chest

There are plenty of signs and visual aids to explain everything.The male guide, dressed in uniform of the period, was very knowledgeable on the ship’s history.

Captain’s Office

 

Captain’s Stateroom

The top or spar deck, the highest of the continuous decks running the full length (stem to the stern) of a ship, was where all sailing operations took place.  The ship’s wheel, binnaclefife rails, and so forth, are also mounted here. The ship’s sails here were large and quite impressive.

Dining Table

Officers Quarters

The next deck down is the gun deck where the ship’s main battery of VIII-inch Dahlgren guns, the Captain’s Cabin, the Officers Quarters and the Galley are located. The ship’s officers (Executive Officer; Master; Marine Lieutenant; Second, Third, Fourth & Fifth Lieutenants; Chaplain, Paymaster; Surgeon) each had individual living quarters with beds.

Executive Officer’s Quarters

Master’s Quarters

The captain, on the other hand, had a large spacious area to himself, complete with dining table, bath, study, and the only private, old-school toilet on deck (it had a window view).

Second Lieutenant-Navigator’s Quarters

Chaplain’s Quarters

We explored further, going down another flight of steps to reach the berth deck where the majority of the crew  lived and socialized and where their hammocks are slung.

Pantry

Despensary

Going down one more ladder brought us to the ship’s hold where food, water and gear for the crew  was stowed.  The top deck (spar deck) and gun deck are accessible via wheelchair lifts. The headroom on the two lower decks was low.

Stairs leading to Berth Deck

Berth Deck

A trip way back in maritime history, for tall ships it’s hard to beat the Constellation as we saw how the sailors slept (not very comfortable I should imagine as they slept on hammocks with no privacy) and ate on the ship, giving us a real feel at how hard it was to live on a ship back then.

Ship’s Hold

USS Constellation: Pier 1, Constellation Dock, 301 East Pratt St., Inner Harbor, BaltimoreMaryland 21202-3134, United States. Tel: 410-539-1797 (Main Office) and 410-396-3453 (Group Sales/ Education Office).  Fax: 410-539-6238. Open daily, 10 AM – 4:30 PM. E-mail: administration@historicships.org. Website: www.historicships.org. Admission: US$18 (Fleet Pass – 4 ships entry), UUS$15 (Squadron Pass – 2 ships entry). Tickets may be purchased on-line or at ticket locations on Pier 1, Pier 3 or on board the USCGC Taney.

Tours are regularly available, self-guided or with the assistance of staff. Tour groups can participate in demonstrations such as “turning the yards” and operating the capstan on the main deck to raise/lower cargo. Daily, a cannon firing is also demonstrated. Star-Spangled Spectacular visitors, with limited mobility and one companion, may tour the USS Constellation free on September 11, 12, 14 and 15, during her regular scheduled operating hours.

USCGC Taney (Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.)

USCG Cutter Taney

During our tour of The Historic Ships of Baltimore, Jandy, Kyle and I first visited the USCGC Taney, a United States Coast Guard High Endurance Cutter (WPG/WAGC/WHEC-37), one of two of the famed Treasury-class (out of seven total) Coast Guard cutters still afloat.

The author and Kyle at the deck of USCG Cutter Taney

Kyle sitting on the pilot’s deck seat

It is notable for being the last ship afloat (a non-combatant vessel at Pearl Harbor, the US Navy tug Hoga, also remains afloat) that fought in the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor (although Taney was actually moored in nearby Honolulu Harbor not Pearl Harbor itself).

The Pilot’s Room

Log Office

This destroyer-size cutter, named after famed Maryland Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney (who was, at various times, US Attorney GeneralSecretary of the Treasury, and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), was 327 ft. long, with a beam of 41 ft., and originally displaced 2000 tons.

Taney at Pearl Harbor Exhibit

Here are some interesting historical trivia regarding this ship’s distinguished career:

  • The Taney was laid on May 1, 1935, at the Philadelphia Navy Yard where she was built alongside three of her sister ships, Campbell, Duane and Ingham.
  • She was launched on June 3, 1936 and commissioned on October 24 that same year. It was first home ported in Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Designed for peacetime missions of law enforcement, search and rescue, and maritime patrol, its original armament consisted of two 5”/51 caliber deck guns, and two 6-pounder saluting guns. It was also originally equipped to carry a Grumman JF-2 “Duck” float plane.
  • In May or June 1937, the Roger B. Taney’s name was shortened to simply Taney.
  • In the pre-war years, Taney she interdicted opium smugglers and carried out search and rescue duties from the Hawaiian Islands through the central Pacific Ocean and made regular cruises to the equatorial Line Islands (Kanton and Enderbury Islands), some 1500 miles southwest of Oahu, to re-supply and support to American colonists there.
  • In 1937, Taney participated in the search for missing aviator Amelia Earhart.
  • In 1940 and 1941, in anticipation of war, she received successive armament upgrades that included an additional 5”/51 caliber gun on the fantail (where her float plane once stood), three 3”/50 caliber dual purpose guns (capable of shooting at both surface and airborne targets), additional .50 caliber machine guns, depth charge racks and throwers, and sonar for locating submarines.
  • On the eve of Pearl Harbor, though she retained her Coast Guard crew, Taney was officially assigned to the US Navy’s Destroyer Division 80.
  • On December 7, 1941, when Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor and other American military installations in Hawaii, she was tied up at Pier 6, Honolulu, where she was able to repeatedly engage Japanese planes which over flew the city. When the attack subsided, it immediately set out to search for Japanese submarines off Pearl Harbor. Although it did not locate any, the ship received the American Defense Service Medal for the crew’s quick and courageous action.
  • From December 1941 until the fall of 1943, Taney operated from the west coast of the US through the Central Pacific, carrying out anti-submarine patrols, convoy escort duties as well as special assignments.
  • In 1942, after the Battle of Midway, she was one of many ships searching for survivors
  • In July 1943, while delivering a US Navy survey party to Baker Island along the Equator, the cutter fought off an attack by a Japanese “Mavis” patrol bomber.
  • In the fall of 1943, after a major refit at Mare Island (during which the ship lost her older 5”/51s and 3”/50s and received four 5”/38 caliber dual purpose guns), Taney was transferred to the Atlantic Theater where she served as Flagship of Task Force 66, US Atlantic Fleet and was the command vessel for six convoys of troop and supply ships between the US and North Africa.
  • On the evening of April 20, 1944, off the coast of North Africa, Taney narrowly dodged several torpedoes while fending off a large scale attack by German Junkers Ju 88and Heinkel He 111 medium bombers against Convoy UGS-38. Three ships were lost in the attack including the ammunition ship SS Paul Hamilton and the destroyer USS Lansdale.
  • In 1945, after a dramatic reconfiguration as an Amphibious Command Ship (AGC), Taney returned to the Pacific.
  • During the Battle of Okinawa, the cutter was the flagship of Rear Admiral Calvin Cobb, USN, who commanded a variety of naval operations off the island of Ie Shima, immediately northwest of Okinawa.
  • During April and May 1945, at the height of the campaign during 119 separate engagements in which her crew stood to battle stations, Taney was under frequent attack and was credited with destroying four Kamikaze suicide planes and 1 Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bomber and assisted in numerous other “kills.”
  • Immediately after the end of the Pacific war, on September 11, 1945, Taney steamed into Japanese home waters at Wakayama, where it received American and other Allied prisoners-of-war and assisted with their evacuation.
  • During the Korean War, Taney received additional anti-submarine weapons and frequently carried out plane-guard duties off Midway Island and Adak, Alaska.
  • Following World War II, Taney was reconfigured for peacetime duties and, from 1946 until 1972, she was home ported in Alameda, California. Known as “The Queen of the Pacific,” she carried out virtually every peacetime Coast Guard duty including decades of Ocean Weather Patrol throughout the Pacific, fisheries patrols in the Bearing Sea and countless search and rescue missions.
  • On April 27, 1960, Taney had the honor to host French President Charles de Gaulle on his VIP tour of San Francisco Bay.
  • By the late 1960s, Taney had become the last United States vessel still in commission that had seen action during the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Hawaii. Consequently, from that time on, she was often referred to as “The Last Survivor of Pearl Harbor.”
  • In 1969-70, during the Vietnam War, Taney participated in “Operation Market Time” in the South China Sea. As a unit of Coast Guard Squadron III, she interdicted illegal arms and supplies by inspecting 1,000 vessels along the coast of South Vietnam, fired over 3,400 rounds of 5”/38 ammunition, in support of American and South Vietnamese troops, and provided medical assistance to more than 5,000 Vietnamese civilians. For the crew’s service, the government of the Republic of South Vietnam awarded, in February 1970, Taney with the Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation.
  • In February 1972, Taney was reassigned, from the 12th Coast Guard District in San Francisco, to the 5th Coast Guard District in Virginia.
  • From 1973 to 1977, Taney carried out Ocean Weather Patrol at Weather Station HOTEL, some 200 miles off the coast of New Jersey, as well as “hurricane hunting” (for which she received a special Doppler weather radar installation atop her pilot house).
  • In September 1977, Taney had the distinction of completing the Coast Guard’s last ocean weather patrol when she closed out Ocean Weather Station HOTEL.
  • From 1977 until 1986, Taney carried out search and rescue duties, fisheries patrols in the North Atlantic, drug interdiction patrols in the Caribbean, and summer training cruises for the Coast Guard Academy. During this period she made 11 major seizures of illegal drug including a 1985 bust which netted 160 tons of marijuana – the largest in US history.

Operation Market Time Exhibit

Over her distinguished career, Taney received three battle stars for World War II service and numerous theater ribbons for service in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam War.

National Historic Landmark Plaque

After more than 50 years of service, Taney was decommissioned on December 7, 1986 at Portsmouth, Virginia and given to the City of Baltimore, Maryland as a memorial and museum ship in the Inner Harbor as part of the Historic Ships in Baltimore collection.

Check out “The Historic Ships of Baltimore

Ammunition Hoist

Radio Room

In 1988, USCGC  Taney was added to the National Register of Historic Places and, on the same day, was also designated as a National Historic Landmark. Taney is included in the Baltimore National Heritage Area.

Galley

Common Mess Area

During our tour, much of the ship was open to walk through.  We explored both below decks and up to the bridge. Upon close inspection, this museum ship is not exactly a World War II time capsule like USS Missouri and other veteran ships.

Sickbay

Throughout her life, she had been modernized and her spaces are more typical of a naval ship of the 1980s, the decade when she was decommissioned, rather than the 1940s.

Crew Berthing Area

Items of circa 1986 shipboard life include personal items and clothing in living quarters, offices with cabinets and typewriters, an ammunition room still loaded with training rounds, and stocked damage control lockers.

Soogie, the ship’s mascot dog

Crew’s Head

Some spaces have been repurposed for museum exhibits that focused on events the ship played a role (Pearl Harbor, Okinawa, Vietnam War, etc.).

Ship’s Store

Barber shop

USCGC Taney: Pier 5, Baltimore Maritime Museum, 301 East Pratt St., Baltimore, Maryland  21202-3134, United States.  Open spring, summer and fall Sundays-Thursdays, 10 AM to 5:30 PM; Fridays & Saturdays, 10AM to 6:30 PM. During the winter, it is open Fridays-Sundays only: 10:30 AM to 5 PM. Tel: 410-396-3453. E-mail: administration@historicships.org. Website: www.historicships.org. Admission: US$18 (Fleet Pass – 4 ships entry), UUS$15 (Squadron Pass – 2 ships entry). Tickets may be purchased on-line or at ticket locations on Pier 1, Pier 3 or on board the USCGC Taney.

How to Get There:  The Inner Harbor is accessible by bus, light rail, and metro subway (one-way rides are US$1.60). The light rail station closest to the ship is located at the Convention Center on Pratt Street (nine blocks west of the harbor). The closest metro station is Market Place at Power Plant Live (three blocks north and two blocks east of the submarine). There are also several bus routes that serve the Inner Harbor.

The Historic Ships of Baltimore (Maryland, U.S.A.)

The Historic Ships of Baltimore

One of the highlights during our 2-night stay in Baltimore was our visit to The Historic Ships of Baltimore, a maritime museum located in the Inner Harbor of Baltimore, an opportunity too good to miss for a nautical buff. An affiliate of the Living Classrooms Foundation,  it represents one of the most impressive collections of military vessels in the world.  Exhibiting life at sea, from the mid-19th century to the mid-1980’s, it was created as a result of the merger of the USS Constellation Museum and the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

Jandy posing with the World War II submarine USS Torsk in the background

The museum’s collection, all located within easy walking distance of each other, features four historic and well-maintained museum ships from four different times in history.  The USS Constellation, a 1854 sloop-of-war in Pier 1, was the last all-sail warship built by the US Navy.

Check out “USS Constellation Museum

USCG Cutter Taney

The USCGC Taney (WHEC-37), a Coast Guard cutter in Pier 5, is the last surviving vessel to witness the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  The USS Torsk (SS-423), a World War II-era, Trench-class (one of 10) submarine in Pier 3 commissioned in 1940, torpedoed the Coast Defense Vessels #13 and #47 on August 14, 1945, the last two enemy combatants of World War II.  The Chesapeake, a lightship (which marked the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay) in Pier 3 built in 1930, was a navigational aid with beacons mounted on it.

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The author posing with the lightship Chesapeake in the background

Also included in the collection is the 40 ft. high Seven Foot Knoll Light, a screw-pile lighthouse in Pier 5 built in 1856. One of the oldest Chesapeake Bay area lighthouses, it was erected at the mouth of the Patapso River, on a shallow shoal called the Seven Foot Knoll. For over 130 years, it marked the entrance to the Patapsco River and Baltimore Harbor. The three ships (USS Constellation, USCGC Taney and the USS Torsk) are National Historic Landmarks and all five are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Seven Foot Knoll Light

Jandy, Kyle and I availed of the Squadron Pass and visited the USCGC Taney and the USS Constellation (by far, our favorite). Our interesting and educational visit gave us a good overview of different parts of the nautical world and of Baltimore’s heritage as a major seaport.  Both ships were amazing to walk through as they had much of their original furnishings (like uniforms, desks, etc) for effect (where needed, accurate replicas where made).

Jandy with the American Civil War-era sloop-of-war USS Constellation in the background

Historic Ships in Baltimore: 301 East Pratt St., Baltimore, Maryland  21202-3134, United States. Tel: 410-539-1797 (Main Office) and 410-396-3453 (Group Sales/ Education Office).  Fax: 410-539-6238. Open daily, 10 AM – 4:30 PM. E-mail: administration@historicships.org. Website: www.historicships.org. Admission: US$18 (Fleet Pass – 4 ships entry), UUS$15 (Squadron Pass – 2 ships entry). Tickets may be purchased on-line or at ticket locations on Pier 1, Pier 3 or on board the USCGC Taney. Admission is free at the Seven Foot Knoll Light.

National Aquarium in Baltimore (Maryland, USA)

National Aquarium

This non-profit public aquarium, formerly known as the Baltimore Aquarium when it opened on August 8, 1981 (then shortly later as the National Aquarium in Baltimore) after three years of construction, was constructed during a period of urban renewal in Baltimore. From 2003 to 2013, the National Aquarium and the much older independent National Aquarium in Washington were joined as one National Aquarium with two sites.

The National Aquarium’s initial conceptual design, architecture and exhibit design was led by Peter Chermayeff of Peter Chermayeff LLC (while he was at Cambridge Seven Associates)while that for the Glass Pavilion expansion was led by Bobby C. Poole (while at Chermayeff, Sollogub & Poole).

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An amazing Jellyfish sculpture by Dillon Works

The National Aquarium, the crown jewel of the city’s Inner Harbor and one of the finest facilities of its kind in the world, has won the following awards:

  • In November 2006, the National Aquarium won a Best of Baltimore award from the Baltimore City Paper as the “Best Over Priced Destination for Families.”
  • In 2011, Coastal Living magazine named the National Aquarium the No. 1 aquarium in the United States.
  • In September 2011, the City Paper Reader’s Poll awarded the National Aquarium with the title of “Best Attraction” and the “Best Place to Take Kids.”
  • In 2012, the National Aquarium was named by the Travel Channel as one of the best aquariums in the United States
  • In 2012, it and also received the popular vote as one of the top five best aquariums to visit by 10best.com.

Blue whale skeleton

The largest tourism attraction in the State of Maryland, this immersive under water experience that doesn’t require getting wet has an annual attendance of 1.5 million visitors, holds more than 8,300,000 liters (2,200,000 US gallons) of water and has more than 17,000 specimens representing over 750 species.

The author (left) beside the jaw of a megalodon

The National Aquarium houses several exhibits including the Upland Tropical Rain Forest, a multiple-story Atlantic Coral Reef, an open ocean shark tank and Australia: Wild Extremes (which won the “Best Exhibit” award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2008) plus has a 4D Immersion Theater (added in late 2007). It can be explored in about 2.5 hours and its layout promotes a one-way traffic pattern, which works fine if you expect to see everything from start to finish with no breaks. The marine mammal pavilion, opened in 1990, is located at the adjacent south end of Pier 4.

Marine Mammal Pavilion

The five-level Pier 3 Pavilion, its floors accessible via escalator and elevator except to guests with strollers (guests with toddlers must carry them on their person or use a hipster baby sling carrier, strollers must be checked in upon entering), houses two large tanks, one of which simulates an Atlantic coral reef, and the other simulates the open ocean.  Each floor possesses several exhibits that communicate a main theme.

Blacktip Reef

Blacktip Reef, a 1,000,000 liter (265,000 US-gallon) habitat at Level 1, replicates an Indo-Pacific reef landscape (living corals are exhibited elsewhere in the National Aquarium).  It can be seen from many vantage points, including a new floor-to-ceiling pop-out viewing window. The habitat contains 65–70 species, mostly fish (including blacktip reef sharks).

Reticulated Whiptail Ray

Calypso, one of the largest animals in the exhibit, is a 500-pound green sea turtle introduced into Blacktip Reef in July 2013.  Rescued off the shore of Long Island in 2000, her left front flipper had become infected and, in order to save her life, required amputation.

Maryland Mountains to the Sea

Maryland: Mountains to the Sea, at Level 2, features animals that are native to Maryland. The four exhibits create the illusion that the viewer is traveling down a Maryland stream (painted turtlewood turtleAmerican bullfrog, rosyside dace, etc.) from its source in the Allegheny Mountains, to a tidal marsh (diamondback terrapinfeather blenny, sheeps head minnow, etc.), to a coastal beach (striped burrfish and blue crab), and finally ending at the Atlantic shelf (clearnose skate and summer flounder).

Surviving Through Adaptation – Electric Eel

Surviving Through Adaptation, Living Seashore, at Level 3, features fish (electric eelchambered nautilus, and giant Pacific octopus) that possess adaptations  needed to survive in their various environments.

Clearnose skate at the Touch pool at Wings in the Water

Touch pool with moon jellies

Living Seashore, giving guests the opportunity to explore the ever-changing Mid-Atlantic shoreline, features two touch pools and a variety of hands-on experiences. Animals guests can interact with include clearnose skateAtlantic stingrayhorseshoe crabknobbed whelk, and moon jelly.

Atlantic puffins at the Sea Cliffs Exhibit

Sea Cliffs, Kelp Forest, Pacific Coral Reef, Amazon River Forest, at Level 4, displays several aquatic habitats, including a sea cliffs exhibit (houses several species of seabirds such as the Atlantic puffin); a Pacific coral reef exhibit (Banggai cardinalfish, etc.); a kelp forest exhibit; and an Amazon River forest exhibit (in which animals such as the Arrau turtle can be seen down in the water and up in the overlying foliage).

Upland Tropical Rain Forest, Hidden Life

The sun-filled Upland Tropical Rain Forest, Hidden Life, at Level 5, simulates the Amazon rainforest under the glass pyramid that tops the National Aquarium.

Yellow-footed Tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulata)

It includes two elevated platforms for bird-watching and a cave of various glass-enclosed displays of reptilesamphibians, and terrestrial arthropods. Exiting the rainforest, visitors head back down an escalator and are dropped at the top of a spiral ramp.

Grace, Kyle and Cheska at elevated platform

Animals featured here include Golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) and pygmy marmosets playing among the treetops; piranhas swiming in an open tank; a tarantula living in a glass-enclosed log; Scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber); Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias); Yellow-headed amazon (Amazona oratrix); White-tailed trogon (Trogon viridis); Blue-crowned motmot (Momotus momota); Blue-gray tanager (Thraupis episcopus); Blue poison dart frog (Dendrobates azureus) and Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus).

Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki)

Poison Dart Frog (Ranitameya imitator)

Scarlet ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

The large Atlantic Coral Reef, replicating the Atlantic coral reef, is filled with more than 500 exotic species that would be found anywhere from closer to shore to out into the trench and open ocean, including a green moray eel, triggerfish, and porcupine fish.

Atlantic Coral Reef

Shark Alley: Atlantic Predators, an 850,000 liter (225,000 US-gallon), ring-shaped exhibit, features sharks of varying sizes and species, including sand tiger sharkssandbar sharksnurse sharks, and sawfish that slowly encircle visitors.

Nurse shark

The smaller Pier 4 Pavilion, opened in 1990, features the marine mammal exhibit and is connected to Pier 3 by an enclosed bridge.  It is home to Dolphin Discovery, a 4,900,000 liter (1,300,000 US-gallon) pool housing seven Atlantic bottlenose dolphins – two males (Foster, Beau) and five females (Maya, Spirit, ChesapeakeBayley, Jade).

Dolphin Discovery

Chesapeake was the first dolphin born at the aquarium in 1992 while Bayley, born in 2008, is the youngest. Guests here can watch training, feeding, and play times with the dolphins and interact with dolphin experts (“Dolphin Talk”) in the dolphin auditorium (has floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to the bay).

A pair of bottlenose dolphins

The pavilion also holds “Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance,”a temporary exhibit, showcases 12 different species of jellyfishAtlantic sea nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha), Pacific sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens), Purple-striped jellyfish (Chrysaora colorata), Northern sea nettle (Chrysaora melanaster), Black sea nettle (Chrysaora achlyos), Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita), Egg-yolk jellyfish (Phacellophora camtschatica), Lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata), Spotted jelly (Mastigias papua), Blue blubber jellyfish (Catostylus mosaicus), Upside-down jellyfish (Cassiopea xamachana) and Leidy’s comb jellyfish (Mnemiopsis leidyi).

Jellies Invasion – Oceans Out of Balance

It also illustrates how these animals are important bioindicators, which means that they are sensitive to changes within their environment, and therefore, serve as an early warning sign that changes are occurring within an ecosystem, whether from pollution, invasive speciesclimate change, or other factors.

Pacific sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens)

Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes, at the Glass Pavilion, is structured like a large walk-in aviary (similar to the Upland Tropical Rain Forest exhibit) that allows many of the flying animals to roam freely throughout the exhibit. The exhibit, representing a river gorge in the northern region of outback Australia, is designed to show the wild extremes faced by this particular part of Australia (fire, drought and flood).  Containing many pools in which Australian aquatic life can be found, guests here can see more than 1,800 individual native animals including freshwater crocodiles, turtles, free-flying birds, snakes, lizards and flying foxes.

Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes

The renovation and a multimillion-dollar Glass Pavilion north extension of the National Aquarium, started on September 5, 2002 and completed on December 16, 2005, is 120 ft (37 m) high at the tallest point and is entered through doors in a three-storey, soaring wall of glass.  It features an expanded portion of 5,990 m2 (64,500 sq. ft.) whose exterior features an interactive area designed to teach visitors about bayscaping, bird-box building, the National Aquarium’s nationally recognized Marine Animal Rescue Program, water quality testing, marine debris issues and wetland restoration.

Waterfall

Inside, directly in the main entrance, is a prominent display (also visible from outside) of a super cool, 11 m. (35-ft.) high waterfall, over which 1,000 gallons a minute tumble, modeled after an actual waterfall in a Maryland state park.  Also inside is a recreation of an Australian habitat featuring more than 50 plants, all indigenous to Australia. Carefully depicted inside the upper portion is the Umbrawarra Gorge of Australia.  About 60,000 gallons of fresh water circulate in the seven Australian-themed exhibits. The gorge exhibit, depicting lands of fire, drought and flood, also features aboriginal artwork based on actual work discovered in Australia and depicting aboriginal interpretations of the land that they live on.

The 1,800 Australian animals featured here include the Gray-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), Laughing kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), Rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus), Zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata), Snake-necked turtle (Chelodina longicollis), Pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta), Black-headed python (Aspidites melanocephalus), Death adder (Acanthophis antarcticus), Frilled lizard (Chlamydosaurus kingii), Spiny-tailed monitor (Varanus acanthurus), Freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus johnstoni), Empire gudgeon (Hypseleotris compressa), Archerfish (Toxotes chatareus) and Barramundi (Lates calcarifer).

There’s also a gift shop and a food court with a small selection of food (pizza, popcorn, ice cream, sandwiches, cupcakes, cookies, etc), catered from Sodexo, with plenty of seating.

Gift Shop

National Aquarium: 501 East Pratt St., Pier 3, Inner Harbor, Baltimore 21202, Maryland. Open 9 AM – 5 PM. The tiered ticket structure  allows aquarium admission with or without the dolphin show or the 4D Immersion Theater. You can purchase or pick up tickets from the kiosk on Pier Three in front of the main building (the westernmost structure), then enter the main building’s doors farthest from the ticket kiosk. Members enter the doors closest to ticketing. Admission: adults (US$39.95), children (3-11, US$24.95). The dolphin show and the 4D Immersion Theater are optional experiences. They do not offer student discounts. Tickets for the 4D movies are an extra US$5. Tel: 410-576-3800. Website: www.aqua.org.

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (Maryland, USA)

Inner Harbor

The Inner Harbor District, a historic seaporttourist attraction and landmark of the city, is located within walking distance of Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium, at the mouth of Jones Falls, creating the wide and short northwest branch of the Patapsco River.

The name “Inner Harbor” includes any water west of a line drawn between the foot of President Street and the American Visionary Art Museum plus the surrounding area within the approximate street boundaries of President Street to the east, Lombard Street to the north, Greene Street to the west, and Key Highway on the south.

The author (lower right corner) walking along the waterfront

The Inner Harbor, with its historically shallow water (prior to manipulation through dredging), was not conducive to large ships or heavy industry and, in the 1950s, suffered from the economic decline with the arrival of container ships after World War II as well as restructuring common to many industrial cities in the United States, ending both its freight and passenger use.

Jandy crossing a pedestrian bridge

To reverse the city’s decline and reconnect Baltimore with its waterfront, the Inner Harbor was gradually transformed with award-winning parks and plazas surrounded by office buildings, hotels and leisure attractions, starting with the adoption of the 13 hectare (33-acre) Charles Center project.

Children frolicking at a fountain

Between 1958 and 1965, Baltimore renewed this center of its business district with office buildings, hotels and retail shops. In 1963, the redevelopment program was expanded to include 97 hectares (240 acres) surrounding the Inner Harbor with corporate headquarters and hotels being built around the shoreline, with a public park and promenade added for leisure activity and community gatherings.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Following the U.S. Bicentennial, other tourist attractions were developed such as the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center and the Harbor Place Festival Marketplace (opened on July 4, 1980 and operated by The Rouse Company). The nearby Baltimore Convention Center and Hyatt Regency Baltimore Hotel added to the services, resulting in increased population density and attracting a huge number of tourists.

In recent years, Inner Harbor East, the area along the waterfront to the east of the Inner Harbor (in the direction of Fells Point and Little Italy), has been developed with mixed-use developments incorporating office space, condominiums, street-level retail space, restaurants and hotels.

In the 1970s and 1980s, with the success of the renewal of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the city became a worldwide tourist destination and a model of urban renaissance, planning and development in cities around the world, influencing more than 100 other cities and winning more than 40 national or international awards.  In 1984, the American Institute of Architects cited it as “one of the supreme achievements of large-scale urban design and development in U.S. history. In 2009, the Urban Land Institute described it as “the model for post-industrial waterfront redevelopment around the world.”

Federal Hill Park

Federal Hill Park (300 Warren Ave.), a former lookout during the War of 1812 and the Civil War located on the south side of the Inner Harbor, allows visitors to take in ​a dramatic view of Baltimore’s cityscape from the top of the hill.

National Aquarium in Baltimore

The National Aquarium in Baltimore (501 E. Pratt St., Pier 3 and Pier 4, Inner Harbor) has a collection of more than 16,500 specimens representing 660 species, with exhibits including a multi-storey Atlantic coral reef, an open ocean shark tank, a 4-D immersion theater, a tropical rain forest, a glass pavilion with Australian wildlife, and a mammal pavilion that holds Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

Check out “National Aquarium in Baltimore

Sloop-of-War USS Constellation

The Historic Ships in Baltimore (Piers 1, 3, and 5) features four historic ships permanently docked in the harbor that visitors can climb aboard and experience – the USS Constellation (first launched in 1854, it is the only Civil War-era ship still afloat), USCGC Taney (last fighting ship still afloat that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor), the USS Torsk (a Tench-class submarine, it is the last ship to sink an enemy vessel in World War II) and the Lightship Chesapeake (a U.S. Coast Guard lightship from the 1930s) plus the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse.

Check out “The Historic Ships of Baltimore,” “USS Constellation Museum”  and “USCGC Taney

Harborplace and the Gallery

Harborplace and the Gallery (Light and Pratt Sts.) are two pavilions with a mix of local and national restaurants and stores, plus Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium (has 500 of Ripley’s trademark “oddities” in seven different galleries, plus a mirror maze and a 4-D movie theater)

Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Odditorium

Maryland Science Center (601 Light St.) has 3 levels of exhibits, a planetarium, and an IMAX theater plus a special exhibit on blue crabs.

Maryland Science Center

Top of the World (401 E. Pratt St.) an observation deck on the 27th floor of the Baltimore World Trade Center, offers sweeping a 360-degree birds-eye views of the city. On the pedestrian promenade outside the building is a memorial to the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Baltimore World Trade Center

Port Discovery Children’s Museum (35 Market Place), on the site of the historic Baltimore Fish Market, is a children’s museum with a three-story jungle gym specifically designed for kids ages 2-10.

Holocaust Memorial

American Visionary Art Museum (800 Key Highway), a mosaic-clad museum, has a  collection of offbeat, innovative art produced by self-taught individuals, plus free outdoor movies and the Kinetic Sculpture Race.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African-American History and Culture (830 E. Pratt St.), the largest of its kind on the East Coast, is dedicated to preserving the stories of the Maryland African American community, past and present.

Baltimore Civil War Museum

Baltimore Museum of Industry (1415 Key Highway), located in an old cannery, holds exhibits on various types of manufacturing and industry from the early 20th century. one of its star attractions is the Baltimore, the oldest surviving steam tugboat and a National Historic Landmark.

Baltimore Visitors Center

The Baltimore Visitor Center (401 Light St.), just north of the Maryland Science Center, has touch-screen kiosks that tell visitors where to go, and staff can help clue you into events happening in the city. It also has public restrooms inside.

Philips Seafood

Power Plant Live! (601 E Pratt St.), the former Pratt Street Power Plant  located 2 blocks north of the Inner Harbor, is an entertainment complex that comes alive at night with bars,  clubs, restaurants and music venues that includes Phillips Seafood, Rams Head Live!,  Hard Rock Cafe (opened July 4, 1997) plus Barnes & Noble and Maryland Art Place (a contemporary art gallery for Maryland artists).

Hard Rock Cafe

Other places to visit here include the Lloyd Street Synagogue (the third-oldest synagogue in the United States, now the Jewish Museum of Maryland), Civil War Museum (President Street Station), Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, Dr. Samuel D. Harris Museum of Dentistry (University of Maryland), Babe Ruth birthplace and museum, Oriole Park at Camden Yards (home of the Baltimore Orioles), Camden Yards Sports Complex, Columbus Center (home of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute), Bnai Israel (a Moorish Revival synagogue now open as a museum), Holocaust Memorial  (E Lombard and S Gay St.), Lockwood Place, Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (a privately owned pop culture museum at Camden Station opened last September 2006), M&T Bank Stadium (home of the Baltimore Ravens), Royal Farms Arena and the Pier Six Pavilion (a music venue at 731 Eastern Ave.)

Pier Six Pavilion

Blue and white water taxis (US&6-12), from 17 locations, connect passengers from the Inner Harbor to Fells PointCanton, and Fort McHenry.

Check out “Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine – Birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner

Water Taxi

You can explore the Inner Harbor on a traditional paddle boat (US$12 per half-hour rental) or the colorful Chesapeake Bay ‘Chessie’ Monster (US version of Scotland’s ‘Nessie,’ US$20 per half-hour rental),  both classic childhood favorites. Both boats hold up to four occupants. If you don’t feel like paddling, there’s the electric boat (half-hour rental – US$10 for one person or US$15 for two).

Cheska, Jandy, Grace and Kyle in a Chessie

Visitors can also explore the harbor via the red and purple-bottomed Cruises on the Bay by Watermark (US$6-17) and the larger yacht Spirit of Baltimore (US$42 and up); the bright yellow speedboats of Seadog Cruises (US$20 range) and the wood-paneled pirate ship The Fearless by Urban Pirates (US$20-25).

Spirit of Baltimore

Cruise ships also offer narrated, 45-min. tours of the Inner Harbor where you’ll learn about the city’s maritime and industrial history as well as the resurgence of the waterfront, Federal Hill, and Fells Point.  You can also avail of 60-min. tours focusing on Fort McHenry, 90-min. cocktail cruises and spectacular 60-min. “city lights” tours. 

St. Leo the Great Church (Baltimore, Maryland)

St. Leo the Great Church

The historic St. Leo the Great Church, designed by renowned Baltimore architect E. Francis Baldwin, is located in the heart of the neighborhood of Little Italy. Its cornerstone was laid on September 12, 1880 and the church was built with brick with stone trim and dedicated in September 1881.

The church’s interior

Combining ItalianateRomanesque and Classical elements and a good example of High Victorian eclecticism, it features a high entrance porch, a turret with conical roof on the north wall, a square bell tower at the northeast corner, a large rose window in the main façade, and a variety of decorative brickwork.

The altar

It was the first church in Maryland, and among the first in the nation, founded and built specifically for Italian immigrants. In 1983, the church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The organ at the choir loft

St. Leo’s Church: 227 S Exeter St., BaltimoreMaryland 21202. Tel: +1 410-675-7275. Email: saintleos@msn.com. Website: www.saintleorcc.com. Mass schedule: Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (8 AM), Saturday Vigil (4:30 PM), Sunday (9:30 & 11:30 AM)