Exhibition Archives

A Tale of Three Coffins: Living and Dying in 17th Century St. Mary’s City

March 2015 - March 2016

Three lead coffins held members of the Calvert family and represent the only physical remains of Maryland's founding family scholars have ever recovered. The exhibition contained the coffins in the exact arrangement as they were discovered in the foundation of the Jesuit Chapel, the oldest brick building in Maryland. 

Visitors gained vivid insights into seventeenth-century life from what settlers ate to the often gruesome medical practices they faced to their religious and burial customs that present a complete view of the harsh reality of seventeenth-century living.  The exhibition highlighted the process of archeological investigation, including film footage of the surprising discovery made in 1990. In March 2016, the coffins were reinterred in their original location at a historically accurate, reconstructed  chapel in St. Mary’s City.



Mason and Dixon and the Defining of America: Treasures from the Maryland Historical Society and Independence Hall

December 4, 2008-April 5, 2009

The exhibition displayed authentic artifacts and iconic documents related to the Mason-Dixon Survey, one of the greatest scientific accomplishments of the age.


The Voss Family, Artists of American Sporting Life

April 11-July 27, 2008

The Voss Family, Artists of American Sporting Life, an exhibition organized by the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York, featured over 85 works of art (oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, prints, and sculptures) by members of the Voss family on loan from six museums and 28 private lenders.

From the Maryland Historical Society, the exhibition moved to the National Sporting Library in Middleburg, Virginia, for the fall and winter of 2008. Guest curator Ms. Gregory R. Weidman wrote an accompanying catalogue.


Borders and Boundaries: The Mason-Dixon Line

March 25-June 29, 2008


1968: A Pivotal Year in Maryland and the Nation

May 7


The Wagner Christmas Garden- A Reflection of Us

November 23, 2007 - Janurary 27, 2007

This Tell Us Your Stories exhibit featured a Christmas garden on display for the first time at MdHS, as set up by the Wagner Family for over a century, from 1900 to 2002. Carl Wagner’s Christmas garden contained pieces from three generations with a “Main Street Circus Parade” heading for a circus ring. The lead soldiers, lead cannons, and cardboard buildings were used by his father, Carl Wagner, Sr., in his train garden on Bond Street in Baltimore. The metal cars and warning signal were in Mr. Wagner’s garden when he was growing up in west Baltimore. The Plasticville buildings were part of the Christmas gardens he created for his children.


At Freedom's Door: Challenging Slavery in Maryland

February 3 - October 28, 2007

At Freedom’s Door: Challenging Slavery in Maryland examined Maryland’s integral relationship to the history of slavery in the United States by exploring the resistance to slavery from enslaved and free people of Maryland, as well as the state’s participation in the institution and perpetuation of slavery. The changing definition and perceptions of freedom were also examined from both historical and contemporary perspectives through artifacts, accounts, and the work of contemporary artists.

More than 35 students from Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and Morgan State University participated in a two year seminar engaging them at a professional level in every aspect of the development and installation of a major exhibition, including the research, planning, and production. These students, enrolled in the Exhibition Development Seminar, worked on At Freedom’s Door: Challenging Slavery in Maryland to be exhibited at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture (RFLM) and the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS).


Maryland Schoolgirl Samplers & Embroideries, 1738-1860

April 14, 2007 - November 15, 2007

Telling touching tales of the world of young girls, both black and white, Maryland Schoolgirl Samplers & Embroideries, 1738- 1860 displayed over 100 samples of needlework, selected by guest curator Dr. Gloria Seaman Allen. The examples chosen are a tangible reflection of the rich mixture of cultures that contributed to Maryland’s history.

For over 120 years in Maryland, from the mid 18th to the mid 19th century, needlework was considered an indispensable subject in the female curriculum. Whether taught in the home or in a seminary or other institution, girls as young as six labored over their samplers as a means of teaching them the rudiments of reading and writing.

pdf dowload of Maryland Schoolgirl Samplers & Embroideries, 1738-1860 article in the MdHS News


Latrobe's Cathedral: The Baltimore Basilica Through the Year

November 1, 2007 - May 6, 2007

The exhibition told the story of the Basilica’s architect B. Henry Latrobe and its first Archbishop John Carroll. It detailed the changes made to the building over the years, culminating in the Basilica’s glorious restoration to Latrobe’s original vision. The skylights in the Cathedral domel again diffuse the sanctuary with what Latrobe termed lumière mystérieuse (mysterious light). On display were documents, drawings, paintings, photographs, and artifacts ranging from marble fragments to an early christening robe.

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was the first Catholic cathedral built after America gained independence. Begun in 1806 and dedicated in 1821, it is considered to be B. Henry Latrobe’s masterwork.

The Basilica’s history is closely entwined with the history of Maryland, which was established in the 17th century as a colony where both Catholics and other denominations could worship freely. On display will be materials relating to the Calvert family who founded the colony in the reign of Charles 1 and the voyage of the Ark and The Dove, the ships that carried the first settlers to Maryland. There is a painting depicting the first mass the settlers held on these new shores. Included are pastoral letters from Archbishop John Carroll, correspondence between Carroll and Latrobe, and Latrobe’s initial sketches and drawings for the cathedral.


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