Exhibition Archives

Activism and Art

In 1968, nine Catholic peace activists protested the Vietnam War in a fiery blaze in Catonsville, Maryland. They became known as the Catonsville Nine. Almost 50 years later, hundreds of demonstrators marched through the streets of Baltimore to protest the death of Freddie Gray. The 2015 uprisings resonated deeply in our culture, representing an ongoing sense of deep dissatisfaction with the status quo in our society. The tradition of protest extends beyond Maryland throughout our entire nation. What does this history tell us and how are we impacted by this legacy today? “Activism and Art: the Catonsville Nine, 50 Years Later” examines one of the most iconic and written-about acts of political protest in 20th century American history. Through art created by Catonsville Nine activist Tom Lewis and elements of the documentary “Hit & Stay: a history of faith and resistance” this exhibit explores the motivations and considers the consequences of civil disobedience, and contextualizes this protest in our present turbulent political climate.

Watch The trailer for hit & stay

Activism & Art Exhibit featuring the award winning documentary Hit & Stay from Maryland Historical Society on Vimeo.

CATONSVILLE NINE in our museum shop 

 The Long Loneliness in Baltimore: Stories Along the Way Hit & Stay, Special Edition - Director's Cut 

Dishing Up Maryland


Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields

 Activism and Art Button, Beige Activism and Art Button, White 

Activism and Art Button, Beige

 Activism and Art Button, White 
 Revolution Poster Catonsville 9 Statement Poster 

Revolution Poster


Statement Poster

 Activism and Art Tote Bag   

Activism and Art Tote Bag



Structure & Perspective

On October 12, 2017, the Maryland Historical Society opened its latest exhibition, Structure and Perspective: David Brewster Explores Maryland’s Social Landscape.
The installation will bring together commissioned works by Maryland- born artist David Brewster with objects from the MdHS collection. This marrying of old with new, contemporary with “antique,” creates a dialogue that will inspire thought-provoking discussions of how the objects of the past remain relevant to today’s ever-changing social landscape. It will also highlight Brewster’s often challenging perspective on the modern world, one that looks to the overlooked or unseen.

Brewster’s commissioned works focus on challenging and complex themes like gender, race, urban decay, suburban sprawl, environmental conditions, and the political tensions in American today. Many objects within the Maryland Historical Society’s collection are relevant to the themes Brewster examines in the ever-changing social landscape of today’s Maryland.

New interactive media will encourage visitors to engage with this exhibit beyond the contemporary art and initiate a dialogue between present-day perspectives and the structures of the past.

Video interviews of members of the Maryland community sharing their voices and perspectives on these themes can be viewed on iPads throughout the exhibition.The interactive media components of Structure and Perspective, delivered through tablets and smartphone media, will invite visitors to explore these themes further on their own throughout the museum.The question "What's Your Perspective?" runs throughout the installation and visitors will have a chance to record their perspectives in the exhibition.
David Brewster at workBrewster was born in Glyndon, Maryland in 1960. His earliest childhood works reveal his interest in structure and perspective. A fascination with depicting houses in cross-section echoes his later interest in rendering architectural structures within urban and rural landscapes. His earliest landscape paintings foreshadow his many years of work “en plein air” or outside. Brewster attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (1979-1980), and the Leo Marchute School of Painting and Drawing
in Aix-en-Provence (1980-82). He received a BFA from the Maryland Institute and College of Art (1985) and a MFA from the University of Pennsylvania (1988). Today, he paints, lectures, and exhibits his work around the world.

Unscripted Moments

Unscripted Moments: The Life and Photography of Joseph Kohl examined Baltimore in the 1980s and '90s through the extraordinary eye of local photographer Joseph Kohl (1957-2002), one of Baltimore’s most distinctive and forward-looking photographers.

Saved from the landfill and sent to MdHS by Kohl’s friends and family, the photos in Unscripted Moments (culled from PP284 Joseph Kohl Photograph Collection) provide an invaluable and evocative record of the city drawn from Kohl’s professional work and personal snapshots, including many images never before published or exhibited.

Subjects range from political protests, sidewalk scenes and animal curiosities, to the nighttime world of sex workers, BDSM play and the underground music scene. Kohl’s warmly rendered portraits of friends, models and strangers are a highlight of the show.

Like a time capsule from the end of the last century, Unscripted Moments offers a whirlwind panorama of city life during the Schaefer, Schmoke and O’Malley mayoral years. What emerges is a vision of Baltimore that’s open-hearted and raw, cosmopolitan and compassionate—and a portrait of a photographer who exposed his love for the city and all its variety in every shot.




Indelible Ink: Discovered Stories of Famous People

More than 1,400 autographs and documents penned by famous historical figures are housed at the Maryland Historical Society and a selection is now on display. Marylanders have played integral roles in history, and the new exhibit – Indelible Ink: Discovered Stories of Famous People – represents how they came into contact with movers and shakers along the way. These flourishes and scribbles of celebrities – from monarchs, to artists, to politicians – are treasured pieces of the MdHS’s rich collections. You will see documents and photographs dating from the earliest years of colonial Maryland to the 21st century. Highlights include letters from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, and Helen Keller – even Queen Victoria is represented.

Voyage of the Deutschland

Presented by The German Society of Maryland and the Maryland Historical Society Maritime Committee

Commemorating the centennial of the mysterious arrival of the Deutschland submarine to Baltimore's harbor and the United States' involvement in World War I, The Maryland Historical Society has launched a new exhibition, Voyage of the Deutschland. Objects include a model of the Deutschland submarine measuring five and a half feet long, which is said to be the most authentic replica in existence. Click here for more information.

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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