Historic Structures

Peale Museum, Baltimore Maryland

Date added: August 10, 2017 Categories: Maryland Museum

The Municipal Museum of the City of Baltimore, at 225 North Holliday Street occupies the first building erected as a museum in the United States. Rembrant Peale, the artist son of Charles Willson Peale, opened the museum on August 15, 1814.

Peale advertised in Baltimore in April, 1813, his intention to build a museum, and on August 15 of the following year,' he inaugurated his new undertaking. Having no plan to follow, he erected a brick three-story house that had a two-story wing in back. Inside, the central hallway opened onto four small rooms on the first floor, in which were placed scientific and natural exhibits. A large drawing room occupied the second floor and the third floor held a painting gallery. Peale struggled to operate the museum for about eight years, but his creditors forced him to sell his interest in it to his brother, Reubens, in 1822. Reubens Peale continued the museum until 1829, when his creditors forced him to vacate the building.

The Museum underwent numerous alterations before becoming the Muncipal Museum in 1931. It was used as the Baltimore City Hall from 1830 until 1875. At this time it was made into a African American School and served this function until 1887. From that time until 1931 the building was occupied by the Water Board as well as several businesses.

In renewing the building for Museum use, the front wall was rebuilt, the original portico was reconstructed and the interior was almost completely reconstructed.

Today, the building is completely devoted to museum purposes. The two front rooms on the first floor have permanent exhibits that are associated with Rembrant Peale. Located in the rear wing are the offices of the curator. On the second floor are exhibition rooms used for portraits. The third floor at present is not used; located here is the central air conditioning until situated behind standing paritions. An addition was made in the basement so as to accomodate museum records. Outside the museum in back is a small court with statues.