An Artful Time in Baltimore: City Offers Sounds of Music and Museums

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BALTIMORE - Famous for its Inner Harbor and aquarium, Baltimore also boasts a rich and varied arts scene consisting of museums, theaters, opera and a world-class symphony orchestra.

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) houses a permanent collection of more than 100,000 objects, ranging from ancient mosaics to contemporary art and art from the Americas, Africa and Asia.

The BMA also is home to the Cone Collection, an impressive holding that includes works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin , Vincent van Gogh and Pierre Auguste Renoir. The Cone Collection's holding of works by Henri Matisse is the largest such collection in the Western Hemisphere.

The BMA maintains a passionate commitment to the acquisition of modern art. It recently acquired 15 works by pop icon Andy Warhol, making it one of the world's largest collections of paintings by the artist on permanent display.

Other modern masters represented in this collection include Jackson Pollock, Theo Van Doesburg and Georges Braque.

On display until Jan. 18, the BMA's exhibition of works from London's Victoria and Albert Museum, "A Grand Design," is the result of years of painstaking preparation.

This impressive show from one of the world's great museums presents a dazzling collection of 256 objects representing 26 countries on four continents. The collection includes paintings, sculpture, design, fashion and decorative arts spanning more than 2,000 years of world culture, from 206 B.C. to 1996.

In addition to its sweeping historical range, the exhibit displays a wonderful eclecticism.

Many of its furniture designs were created for the first World's Fair, in 1851. The works celebrate the craftsman as artist and virtuoso. Most of the pieces were never meant to be used in day-to-day life but rather to push the limits of the possible.

The BMA is on Art Museum Drive and North Charles Street at 31st Street. Visiting hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission for adults is $6; for seniors and students with IDs, it's $4. Everyone is admitted free on Thursdays. To arrange for tours, call 410/396-6320. Visit the museum's Web site (http://www.artbma.org).

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The Walters Art Gallery, at 600 N. Charles St., was established by father-son collectors William and Henry Walters. In 1934, Henry Walters bequeathed his art gallery and all its works to his native city for the benefit of the public.

With the Walters recognized internationally as one of the foremost art museums in the United States, the bequest is still considered among the greatest acts of cultural philanthropy in our nation's history.

The Walters houses an extensive collection of Eastern and Western art, including 22,000 works spanning 5,000 years of human endeavor, from artifacts from ancient Egypt to art nouveau.

Rated by Connoisseur magazine as one of the top seven museums in the United States, the Walters is highly esteemed not only for its collection, but also for its long-standing traditions of scholarship, conservation, research and education.

The Walters Collection includes examples of Asian and medieval art; paintings by Raphael, Sir Anthony Van Dyck, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and El Greco; and 19th-century paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. It also contains examples of ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art and rotating exhibitions of rare illuminated manuscripts.

The Walters is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission for adults is $6; for seniors, $3; for children under age 6, free. Admission is free for everyone from 5 to 8 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month. For tour-guide arrangements or more information, call 410/547-9000.

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