Visitors to the BMA’s Art Begins at Home exhibition in 1940. BMA Archives.
Visitors to the BMA’s Art Begins at Home exhibition in 1940. BMA Archives.

Updated 1937 survey will help guide future exhibitions and programs

BALTIMORE, MD (May 29, 2019)—The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) today announced it is relaunching its ambitious 1937 citywide survey to find out how the museum can best serve the interests of Baltimore’s communities. Titled Make It Now, the updated survey asks 300 organizations—including schools and civic, social, and religious groups—to tell the BMA what they want from Baltimore’s largest art museum. This initiative will help in planning for future exhibitions and programs while reinforcing longstanding relationships and developing new ones throughout the city.

“We are excited to build upon the precedent of community engagement established by the BMA’s leadership during the museum’s first century,” said Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “I have no doubt the outcome of the survey will be very enlightening and will help guide us as we work toward reinventing the museum experience for 21st-century visitors.”

The BMA’s first citywide survey was launched in 1937 when the museum’s Board of Trustees President Henry E. Treide sent a letter to
225 Baltimore organizations seeking their advice as to what each group wanted the museum to do for it. The 192 organizations that responded included educational institutions and business, labor, professional, and religious groups. Each organization formed a committee and filled out a questionnaire that asked what the museum could do to serve their interests. Examples of the responses included the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company employees’ preference for paintings and antique furniture and the McCormick & Company staff’s desire for photography and labels to identify the plants in the garden. The Baltimore Canned Foods Exchange replied that they had no requests. The BMA used the collective responses and organized exhibitions titled Labor in Art, Religious Art, and Hunting and Racing, among others. The survey was also the impetus for the museum’s partnership with the Harmon Foundation, which organized the groundbreaking Contemporary Negro Art exhibition at the BMA in 1939.

The BMA is reaching out to many of the same organizations that it established relationships with during the 1930s, such as the American Institute of Architects, Enoch Pratt Free Library, McCormick & Company, and Maryland Jockey Club, as well as newer organizations and those overlooked in 1937. Individuals who wish to contribute their thoughts and ideas to the survey can participate online by visiting Responses are due by Sunday, June 30.

About the Baltimore Museum of Art

Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.

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Press Contacts

For media in Baltimore:

Anne Brown
Baltimore Museum of Art
Senior Director of Communications

Sarah Pedroni
Baltimore Museum of Art
Communications Manager

For media outside Baltimore:

Alina Sumajin
PAVE Communications