Tag: mount vernon

Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum Gets a Bunch of Money to Digitize Its American Collection

Richard Caton Woodville’s “Politics in an Oyster House”, 1848

Wait, didn’t the Walters just get $265,000 to digitize their illuminated manuscripts? Yes, yes they did. And now they’ve got another $112,000 to scan and upload more than 600 artworks from their American collection. Plus, some of the money will go toward an exhibition of works by hella-American (just look at that those guys!) painter Richard Caton Woodville, as well as educational programs.

Charles Street: Thoughts on Urban Duality


Baltimore Fishbowl intern Moses Hubbard, Mt. St. Joe ’11, wrote the following essay as part of his high school senior project. Moses and friends collaborated on “a multimedia artistic rendering of Baltimore,” ultimately completing a short movie with music. Moses’s writing served as the film’s poetic narration. “We felt a weird sort of pull from the city, like gravity, that none of us could ignore,” he says. Moses is a rising sophomore at Fordham University. 

Charles Street begins undramatically. It sprouts out where I-95 runs through the south side of Federal Hill, after a stretch of water and some train tracks, between two gutted warehouses. This first block is more parking lot than road, and a few abandoned cars can usually be found parked at haphazard angles along the street or in the grass beside it. It’s a humble origin for what becomes one of Baltimore’s most dynamic and important streets.

House of Cards in Bolton Hill


I walked out of my house the other day and saw a couple cop cars parked in the street. At first I just thought, “Ah, Baltimore,” and focused on a kid running down the concrete, but then I noticed caution tape, and several big black vans, and… stage lights?

Nerds Rejoice: Walters Art Museum to Digitize Another 113 Illustrated Manuscripts


It seems that more and more libraries and museums are finally realizing how to use the power of the Internet to give people greater access to their collections. Or at least they are finally getting the money they need to make it happen.

Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum just received a $265,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize 113 medieval Flemish manuscripts. No small task when those manuscripts total “45,000 pages of text with over 3,000 pages of illumination.” And remember, every manuscript is inherently one of a kind, so for non-nerds: think of each one of these manuscripts — each page, even — as essentially a previously unreleased track by whatever awesome dead musician people who don’t spend all their free time memorizing constellations and identifying fonts are listening to these days. But instead of the whole thing coming out as a prohibitively-priced boxed set, it’s made available for free to everyone with an Internet connection.

Eventually, the Walters hopes to have digitized all of its 850 medieval manuscripts. And it’s already been the recipient of two other grants from the NEH to translate their Islamic, English, German, Armenian, Dutch, Byzantine, and Ethiopian manuscripts into ones and zeros, so looks like some day we’ll get there!

You can view the manuscripts they’ve already digitized at art.thewalters.org

Gary Vikan, Director of Walters Art Museum, to Step Down Next Year


After more than 27 years of service, including 18 years as director, Gary Vikan announced Tuesday that he will step down from his leadership position at the Walters at the end of the next fiscal year, June 30, 2013.  Board President, Douglas Hamilton, Jr. shared the announcement with the board of trustees at its regular meeting yesterday afternoon. 

“Gary will be leaving the Walters a very different museum from the one that he entered,” said Hamilton.  “Those of us who care deeply about this jewel and about our community owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.” 

“We are especially fortunate that Gary stayed on to guide the Walters though the recession,” added Andrea Laporte, board chair.  “He leaves the museum with a solid financial foundation and poised for future growth.”

Gary Vikan joined the staff of the Walters Art Museum in 1985 as director of curatorial affairs; he was appointed director in 1994.  During his tenure, Vikan has led many transformative strategic initiatives at the museum, including:

  • The elimination of the Walters’ general admission fee, resulting in an increase in attendance of more than 45% and a nearly three-fold increase in the diversity of  the museum’s audiences;
  • The change in name from “Gallery” to “Museum,” with an associated shift in the museum’s mission from object to audience focus;
  • The oversight of two major building renovation and collection reinstallation projects, while helping to raise more than $65 million in associated capital and endowment funds;
  • The endowment of 24 staff positions in the museum’s curatorial, conservation, and education divisions, nine through Mellon Foundation challenge grants;
  • The development of an award-winning Education Division with greatly expanded school and family programs;
  • The development of a ground-breaking exhibition program which regularly garners national critical press;
  • The creation of the museum’s Touring Exhibition Program, which has served more than 3.2 million visitors world-wide;
  • The initiation of an ambitious program of exhibition and collections publications, with nearly three dozen titles since 2000;
  • The expansion of the museum’s website open-source art offerings, resulting in a more than five-fold increase in on-line visitors to more than 1.8 million annually;
  • The expansion of  the museum’s collections, through gifts and purchases, in the arts of Asia, the ancient Americas, Russia, and Ethiopia;
  • The creation of a Center for the Arts of the Ancient Americas, with a $7.25 million endowment;
  • The initiation of an innovative exhibition partnership with Johns Hopkins University’s Brain Science Institute in exploring the emerging field of neuroaesthetics.

Gary Vikan has also brought the story of the Walters Art Museum to people throughout the region by way of WYPR’s  “Postcards from the Walters.”

His many awards and honors include an appointment by President Clinton to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, and Knighthood in the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) conferred by the French Minister of Culture and Communication.

In support of his strong commitment to Baltimore and the arts, Vikan has served on several boards, including Maryland Citizens for the Arts, the Maryland Humanities Council, the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, and the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors’ Association, now Visit Baltimore.

Throughout his time at the Walters he has taught courses in the Master of the Liberal Arts program of Johns Hopkins University, of which he is a board member. 

Vikan, who celebrated his 65th birthday in November, reflected on his upcoming departure after nearly three decades: “I was drawn to the Walters by its magnificent collections but I stayed on because of the people: the staff, the Board and volunteers, and the public we all serve.”  What’s next?  “The word ‘retirement’ is not in my vocabulary,” said Vikan.  “I look forward to the next chapter in my career, without yet knowing what it will be.  In the short term, I have two books looking for publishers.”

A trustee search committee will be formed in the coming weeks to begin the process of recruiting Vikan’s successor.  

Yoga in the Park: A Pro/Con Meditation



1. Getting a tan while in lying in corpse position
2. Don’t have to leave the dog at home
3. Using the butt crack of a statue as your Drishti
4. Feeling super healthy compared to junkies nodding out on the bench
5. Easy to sneak in if you arrive late
6. Easy to sneak away if you’ve had enough
7. In Tree position, you can actually hold on to a tree.
8. In Pigeon, you can actually watch the pigeons.


1. Stepping on dog poop
2. Cool hipsters gazing at you with contempt
3. Losing your glasses in the grass
4. Getting ogled by old men
5. Dogs licking your feet in corpse position
6. Ants in your shorts
7. Possibly stepping on a needle
8. Worrying somebody might steal your shoes

This summer, I’ve been excited to take part in the free yoga class that takes place every Saturday morning, 8.30-9.30am, in West Mount Vernon park. The class is sponsored by Merritt Athletic Club, and the instructor, Jude, is super-friendly and non-intimidating. Participants are all ages and levels, and there are four more classes left. Just bring your own mat and water bottle.