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Laurie Simmons. Walking House. 1989, printed 1997. From the series "Walking Objects". The Baltimore Museum of Art:  Given by the Board of Trustees and Staff in Honor of Arnold L. Lehman, Director, 1979-1997. BMA 1997.130. © Laurie Simmons, Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York
Laurie Simmons. Walking House. 1989, printed 1997. From the series "Walking Objects". The Baltimore Museum of Art: Given by the Board of Trustees and Staff in Honor of Arnold L. Lehman, Director, 1979-1997. BMA 1997.130. © Laurie Simmons, Courtesy of the artist and Salon 94, New York

Visitor participation encouraged through interactive experiences woven into the exhibition

BALTIMORE, MD (UPDATED September 25, 2015)—The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) presents an innovative thematic exhibition, Imagining Home, in conjunction with the opening of the Patricia and Mark Joseph Education Center, a new area of the museum. On view October 25, 2015 through August 1, 2018, this extraordinary exhibition presents more than 30 artworks from across the collection in a lively space that incorporates video, audio, and other experiences that encourage visitor participation. More than a third of the objects in the exhibition are light sensitive and will change every six months so there will always be something new to experience.

The artworks in Imagining Home represent different ideas and aspects of the places in which we live—whether decorative or functional, real or ideal, celebratory or critical. Visitors can explore objects from many times and places as nearly every area of the BMA’s collection is included: paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, textiles, prints, and photographs, along with works from the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia, as well as four of the museum’s popular miniature rooms. Each object reveals something about the cultural values of its makers and users.

Visitors have three thematic areas to explore in the exhibition:

  • Façades & Thresholds: Visitors will enter the exhibition through a designed threshold to see objects that reflect how we mediate public and private spaces such as Emile-Antoine Bourdelle’s sinister bronze Medusa Door Knocker (1925), Walter Henry Williams’ painting A Quick Nap (1952), and a colorful early 20th-century Suzani prayer rug from Central Asia.
  • Domestic Interiors: Laurie Simmon’s Walking House (1989, printed 1997) and a selection of chairs, vessels, and other objects from an ancient Greek krater (440- 430 BCE) to a modern Toastmaster toaster (c. 1932) and a shower curtain with text by author Dave Eggers from The Thing Quarterly (2011-12) invite visitors to consider how we make home.
  • Arrivals & Departures: Contemporary and historic objects like Alfred Stieglitz’s Steerage (1907) photograph of passengers boarding a ship and Susan Harbage Page’s Hiding Place No. 3, Laredo, Texas (2011), a large-scale photograph of a temporary shelter for someone crossing the U.S./Mexico border, show a world of constant transformation and movement.

A variety of interactive elements are woven throughout Imagining Home. Home Stories videos reveal how 11 Baltimore-area households experienced living with a reproduction of one of four objects in the exhibition for a month. The engaging interviews explore what they discovered about the artworks and how it affected their thinking about home, art, and the BMA. Six of the artworks have Soundscapes that immerse visitors in a wash of sound recorded in the place where the artwork was made. The authentic sounds were recorded at sites in Afghanistan, Algeria, Ghana, Italy, and Maryland. Home Reflections show visitors’ responses to the prompt “Home is…” projected on the floor of the gallery. These statements change as new visitor responses are received using an iPad in the exhibition. The BMA’s Go Mobile smartphone guide has been expanded with insightful details about many of the artworks in the exhibition, including a video of Chicago-based artist Hank Kupjack restoring one of the miniature rooms his father designed for the BMA. Other highlights include California-based artist Tracy Snelling talking about her work El Mirador (2005), a mini reproduction of a fictional desert hotel in Mexico that shows six videos through its windows, Baltimore-based artist Ben Marcin talking about his photographs, and public radio producer and writer Starlee Kine talking about her cutting board (2010) from The Thing Quarterly. Friendly Gallery Hosts will be standing by during weekends and special events to provide information about the objects and experiences. There is also a nook with seating, books, and magazines for visitors to relax and peruse.

An adjacent space called the Commons will reflect the voices and creativity of Baltimore. Baltimore-based mixed-media artist Marian April Glebes, in partnership with the non-profit The Loading Dock, was selected for a year-long Commons Collaboration inspired by the theme of home that will be presented in the Commons and at The Loading Dock. Seeing the BMA as a metaphoric house for Baltimore’s greatest cultural assets, Glebes anticipates creating an interactive environment where visitors can explore relationships with the materials of home and connect them to the larger notion of place. Visitors can also fill out Postcards from Home with their responses to questions posed in the exhibition, then place the postcard into a mailbox to be sent to another visitor whom they’ve never met. They may write their own address on a return label to receive a postcard as well. Select postcards will be featured on the BMA’s blog. The Commons will also host Open Hours on the third Saturday of the month beginning in November. These events are organized by anyone who wants to propose an activity connected to the theme of home that promotes a sense of sharing and exchange.

This project was made possible in part by The Institute of Museum and Library Services. The media sponsor is the Maryland Transit Administration.

Project Team
Imagining Home was organized by BMA Director of Interpretation & Public Engagement Gamynne Guillotte with Associate Curator of European Painting & Sculpture Oliver Shell, in collaboration with other curators, educators, and designers. The gallery renovation was designed by Ziger/Snead Architects. The exhibition design and installation was created by BMA Director of Exhibition Design & Installation Karen Nielsen, in collaboration with Director of Interpretation and Public Engagement Gamynne Guillotte and Assistant Curator of European Painting & Sculpture Oliver Shell. Interpretation was led by Manager of Interpretation Jessica Keyes. Motion graphics were created by Figure 53. Audio content was produced by Sandy Goldberg. A Community Advisory Panel comprised of artists, educators, and community members, and a Scholarly Advisory Panel comprised of both arts and humanities scholars from across the country also participated in the formation of the exhibition.

Joseph Education Center
The Patricia and Mark Joseph Education Center is a new area of the museum that connects visitors with art, creativity, and community through a variety of activities. The $4.5 million, 5,500-square foot center continues the BMA’s long tradition of pioneering art education that began in 1929. It also concludes the museum’s multi-year renovation to provide more imaginative experiences with the artworks in the galleries and improve visitor amenities and infrastructure. It includes a gallery that draws together works from across the collection around a theme, a commons that highlights the voices and creativity of the Baltimore community, and a studio for hands-on art making for all ages, a new docent room for the museum’s dedicated gallery teachers, and a renovated school group entrance and orientation foyer for the thousands of schoolchildren who visit the BMA each year.

Institute of Museum And Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter

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 95,000 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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