Free galleries in three old mansions offer a comprehensive collection of over 5,000 years’ worth of art and rare manuscripts from nearly all regions of the world.
The art in Walters Art Museum spans 55 centuries. In the collection of more than 35,000 objects, you’ll see ancient manuscripts, 19th-century European pieces and Egyptian sculpture from an era that started in the sixth millennium B.C. The museum also offers creative programs for visitors of all ages.
The story of the museum begins when William Walters and his family moved from Baltimore to Europe during the Civil War and started buying 19th-century art there. Once back in Baltimore, Walters decided to occasionally open his house as a museum. After his death in 1894, son Henry added more valuable pieces to the collection and created a palazzo-like gallery in 1909 from three old mansions. The museum opened as the Walters Art Gallery in 1934.
Stroll through expansive galleries and admire ancient Greek statues, Egyptian mummies, Islamic manuscripts, medieval ivories, art deco jewelry and Roman sarcophagi. Browse the huge collection of illuminated manuscripts, with some of the first printed books in the world. If you want a more in-depth experience, pick up a free audio tour at the Visitor Services Desk or join a free guided tour.
Enter Hackerman House to see Asian art under carved ceilings and a Tiffany glass dome. Climb the grand spiral staircase for meditative silence in a bamboo setting.
Children can check out the Family Art Center within the complex. There are often festivals and drop-in activities on the weekends to create art, listen to stories and dress up.
Located in the Mt. Vernon Cultural District, Walters Art Museum is about a mile (1.6 kilometers) north of Inner Harbor. The free museum is open daily from Wednesday to Sunday. On Thursday nights, browse the museum and eat in the café after dark. A listing of special events is on the website. A paid parking lot is across the street. There are many public transport options and the museum is serviced by the free Charm City Circulator shuttle bus.