Baltimore's Pilgrimage Pieces

You don’t have to travel the world to see worthwhile art.

Baltimore is home to five world-renowned objects d’art: a French painting, an American locomotive, a Russian Easter egg, a blinged-out sculpture and a 201-year-old manuscript. Embark on a pilgrimage to our friendly and accessible city that is sure to enhance your cultural experience.

The Baltimore Museum of Art’s The Blue Nude

You don’t have to visit France to see the largest collection of works by Henri Matisse. That honor belongs to the Baltimore Museum of Art, thanks to Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone, who bequeathed 500 works by the French artist. Among them was The Blue Nude, considered one of Matisse’s greatest paintings. The palm trees and bright blue and green palette are inspired by Matisse’s time in North Africa. With its unprecedented scale and sensuality, the life-size painting shocked the French public when it debuted in 1907. It later inspired other artists of Mattise’s generation, including Pablo Picasso.

B&O Railroad Museum’s Locomotive No. 600, the “J.C. Davis”

Designed by the B&O Railroad's Master of Machinery John C. Davis, the Locomotive No. 600 highlights the intricate design that characterized locomotives during railroading’s heyday. Its striking good looks earned it the privilege of being showcased at many national and world expos. Davis built the locomotive in the Mount Clare Shops, now the site of the museum. Unfortunately, the No. 600 “J.C. Davis” suffered the most damage after the museum’s roundhouse collapsed from a blizzard in 2003. But after restoring the locomotive to its original glory, visitors can once again behold the J.C. Davis in the B&O’s grand roundhouse.

The Walters Art Museum’s Fabergé Gatchina Palace Egg

Tsar Nicholas II gifted this bejeweled imperial Easter egg in 1901 to his mother, the empress Marie Fedorovna. Fabergé, the court jeweler to the Russian tsars, always included an elaborate surprise within, and the Gatchina Palace Egg was no exception. Inside is a miniature gold replica of the palace at Gatchina, the winter residence of Alexander III and Maria Fedorovna. The outside is an example of an enameling technique guilloche, or mechanically engraved gold. It’s one of two Fabergé eggs on display at The Walters Art Museum.

The American Visionary Art Museum’s Cosmic Galaxy Egg

Within the plaza of the Jim Rouse Visionary Center, a blinged-out, eight-foot tall shimmering sculpture catches the eye. Andrew Logan’s Cosmic Galaxy Egg features whirling galaxies and stars and is inspired by images from the Hubble Telescope. It’s also a tribute to the late Baltimore actor Divine, with whom Logan founded the Alternative Miss World Contest in 1972. “The mirror of the universe has been my life for almost 40 years. It has an energy like no other material,” said Logan, who has also used mirrors to create portraits, jewelry and wall pieces.

The Maryland Historic Society’s original Francis Scott Key poem

After witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key wrote Defence of Fort McHenry, the poem that later became the lyrics to our national anthem. The Maryland Historical Society displays theoriginal handwritten manuscript of “The Star-Spangled Banner”, which Congress declared the national anthem in 1931.

Now that you are familiar with the pieces, check out the stunning images on the 5 Must See Pilgrimage Art Pieces in Baltimore list page. Or you can see our list of Pilgrimage Places in Baltimore.