Five Questions With: Cathy C. Rosenbaum, Mount Vernon Place Conservancy
1. What makes the Washington Monument and Mount Vernon so significant to Baltimore?
The Washington Monument, designed by American architect Robert Mills, stands a testimony to Baltimorean’s civic pride in their nationally-important role in the formation of the United States—a role forged during the War of 1812. On the very next July 4th, in 1815, Baltimoreans laid the cornerstone of the first monument in the nation to honor George Washington, the symbolic Father of this new country. The monument became the centerpiece of a beautiful urban square, Mount Vernon Place. As the nineteenth century progressed, Mount Vernon Place became a highly desirable place to live, and eventually boasted some of the finest houses in the city, and cultural institutions like the Peabody Institute and the Walters Art Museum. Because of its historical and cultural importance, Mount Vernon Place was declared a National Historic Landmark District. On July 4th, 2015, the Monument will be rededicated and reopened to the public. We invite everyone to join us as we celebrate the “Monumental Bicentennial.”
2. What is one thing you hope the public will learn about the Monument during the Bicentennial?
Formed in 2008, the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy (“the Conservancy”) is committed to restoring, maintaining and managing the Washington Monument and four surrounding park squares, in partnership with the City, so that these national treasures can be enjoyed by future generations. We hope the public will take away a new appreciation for how important it was in 1815 to be erecting the first monument in the nation to George Washington. The erection of this first memorial to George Washington was of national and international interest.
3. What can visitors expect to experience during the Bicentennial Celebration?
The Monumental Bicentennial celebration, sponsored by Bank of America and the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy, will include a Naturalization Ceremony at 9 a.m., a formal rededication and ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:45 a.m., followed by an old-fashioned family-friendly Americana themed country fair. Highlights will include historical re-enactments, games, activities, live music, picnic concessions and even a farmer’s market. The neighborhood cultural institutions and businesses are excited to be partnering to make this a fun and memorable historic celebration.
4. What is the most common misconception about the Monument?
Although both Baltimore’s Washington Monument and the more well-known D.C. Monument were both designed by Robert Mills, the Baltimore monument was completed well before the D.C. monument was even begun.
5. Besides Mount Vernon, what are your favorite areas to spend time in Baltimore?
There is so much to explore and do in Mount Vernon Place and in the Mount Vernon neighborhood---why leave!
What’s New in Baltimore?
Wurtzburger African Art Gallery and Asian Art Galleries
Baltimore Museum of Art
Reopening April 26, 2015
The gallery for the BMA's celebrated African art collection will be expanded to more than three times its former size and relocated to the center of the museum's first floor for the new presentation of the Alan and Janet Wurtzburger African Art Gallery. Doubling the space devoted to the Asian art collection, two renovated Asian Art galleries will feature approximately 150 works, including the BMA's renowned Chinese high-fired ceramics – representing 1,000 years of innovation from the 9th through the 19th centuries, and a variety of works that show the importance of the temple and the tomb in Chinese artistic tradition. www.artbma.org
Opens May 12, 2015
Living Seashore is an interactive exhibit where guests can explore the shore and touch the animals that live between the tides. This new exhibit, which spans 2,700 square feet, takes guests beyond the boardwalk to the crashing waves, sandy beaches and shifting dunes of the ever-changing mid-Atlantic seashore, where they will encounter more than 150 animals, including clearnose skates, horseshoe crabs and moon jellies. Along the edge of two large touchpools, containing 5,331 gallons of salt water, guests will be able to gently touch the prickly pointed spines of a purple sea urchin; the sleek, muscular wing of an Atlantic stingray; and the mysterious, firm bell of a pulsing moon jelly. www.aqua.org/livingseashore
Babe Ruth: 100 Years
Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum
Opens June 2015
Babe Ruth: 100 Years will be a new permanent exhibit to celebrate Babe Ruth entering professional baseball a century ago, with rare artifacts such as the scorebook from his first game with the then-minor league Baltimore Orioles. www.baberuthmuseum.org
Lincoln’s Funeral Procession
B&O Railroad Museum
April 18-19, 2015
In honor of the B&O Railroad Museum’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the museum will re-enact President Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession in the Roundhouse to symbolize his lying in state in the Baltimore Rotunda with an exact replica of Lincoln’s casket. The weekend will include period music, military and civilian re-enactors. In addition, a B&O Civil War locomotive will be decorated as Lincoln’s funeral train and will be on exhibit throughout the remainder of 2015. www.borail.org
Mount Vernon Place
July 4, 2015
The Mount Vernon Place Conservancy will host “A Monumental Bicentennial” to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Baltimore’s iconic Washington Monument, the first monument in America dedicated to George Washington. The patriotic celebration will include an official re-dedication, an American Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony, tours of the monument and family-fun hands-on activities. The Conservancy recently completed a $5.5 million restoration of the monument. www.facebook.com/mountvernonplace
Special Events & Exhibitions
All Dressed Up: A Legacy of Cross-Dressing Men in Entertainment
Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower
March 7 – April 25, 2015
The showcase from Baltimore-based artist Ron Anthony features portraits of the city’s own Devine, Dame Edna, RuPaul and other entertainers. In “All Dressed Up,” Anthony seeks to question how minstrel shows of the past have influenced the style and dress of modern day entertainers. Through his work, he also explores the ways men of different regions, nationalities and backgrounds managed to escape the suit, earn their rights of passage and achieve a greater sense of freedom, pride and success through cross-dress. www.bromoseltzertower.com
Black Box: Sharon Hayes
Baltimore Museum of Art
March 15 – July 2015
Through her performances, films, and installations, Baltimore-born artist Sharon Hayes (American, born 1970) examines the intersection of history, politics, and speech, with a particular focus on the language of 20th-century protest groups. For this exhibition the BMA is presenting Hayes’ Ricerche: three (2013), a 38-minute video that debuted at the 2013 Venice Biennale and received a special mention from the Golden Lion award committee. The film questions attitudes of 36 students at an all-women’s college in western Massachusetts on issues of sexual and gender identity. www.artbma.org
75 Years of Spirit: A Will Eisner Retrospective
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum
Opens April 1, 2015
Curated by Denis Kitchen, this exhibit has a major focus on Eisner’s work on The Spirit, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. It will also focus on the rest of his career with an emphasis on his connection to Baltimore with a mixture of original art, books, comics and other artifacts. www.geppismuseum.com
Dance Theatre of Harlem: Forty Years of Firsts
Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture
April 1 – August 30, 2015
Highlighting Dance Theatre of Harlem’s 40-plus year history, this magnificent exhibition celebrates the history and art of dance with 25 costumes and accessories, set pieces, documentary video excerpts, historical photographs, and tour posters; and includes four dramatically staged ballets that are iconic to the company: A Streetcar Named Desire, Creole Giselle, Douglas and Firebird. Dispelling the belief that ballet could not be performed by those of African descent, Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969. It has since grown into a multicultural dance institution. www.rflewismuseum.org
Kinetic Sculpture Race
American Visionary Art Museum
May 2, 2015
Kinetic sculptures are amphibious, human-powered works of art custom-built for the race. Each May, the American Visionary Art Museum hosts the East Coast Kinetic Sculpture Race Championship on the shore of Baltimore’s Harbor in central Maryland. The eight-hour race covers 14 miles – mostly on pavement, but also including a trip into the Chesapeake Bay and through mud and sand. www.kineticbaltimore.com
Maryland Film Festival
May 6-10, 2015
Designed to advocate for films and filmmakers as they enter the marketplace, the Maryland Film Festival celebrates the art of film in the tradition of famous Baltimoreans like John Waters and Barry Levinson. Documentaries, short films and features are screened at several locations throughout the city as Baltimore goes to Hollywood for the better part of a week. www.md-filmfest.com
Masters of Male Striptease Trouble in Stubble 2: Sausage Fest
May 9 & 10, 2015
Make a date with mom for this rowdy romp down Studmuffin Lane! Trixie Little has assembled an internationally acclaimed cast of male burlesque superstars for a night of rippling talent! Chicago's hunky no-pants romancer- Jett Adore; Reigning King of Burlesque and tall drink of water- Mr. Gorgeous; Bringing his Vienna sausage direct from Austria- Jacques Patrique; Dapper dancing drag king, Seattle's legendary Lou Henry Hoover. www.creativealliance.org
Running of the Preakness Stakes
Pimlico Race Course
May 16, 2015
The famed Preakness Stakes, the middle jewel of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown, is the largest single-day sporting event in the state of Maryland. Preakness InField Fest, a multi-entertainment festival, features national bands, two stages, unique attractions and fun activities throughout the day as fans await the running of the Preakness Stakes. www.preakness.com
36th Street, Hampden
June 13-14, 2015
A truly original festival, HonFest celebrates all things "Bawlmer" and embodies the warmth and affection bestowed upon neighbors and visitors alike by the city's historic working women. The nationally recognized event covers four city blocks in Hampden, a revered old-style Baltimore neighborhood filled with quirky shops, quaint restaurants and endearing residents. www.honfest.net
African American Festival
M&T Bank Stadium
June 20-21, 2015
The African American Festival is a free family celebration of life, music and culture. Enjoy live music, educational and historical exhibits, interactive children's area, and crafts. www.AfricanAmericanFestival.net
Where to Stay
With more than 25 TAG-approved hotels and over 10 IGLTA partner accommodations, choices range from quaint B&Bs and boutique hotels to larger upscale hotels and extended stay properties.
The Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore is an AAA approved Four Diamond hotel conveniently located on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. The hotel has 195 recently renovated guest rooms that each offers a scenic view of the waterfront or striking downtown city skyline. The hotel also boasts more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space with stunning views and a bee apiary in its courtyard area.
Where to Dine
Baltimore’s culinary scene is drawing rave reviews from around the globe. From the Inner Harbor to our trendy, historic and hip neighborhoods throughout the city, dining options in Baltimore have expanded in recent years to feature a veritable smorgasbord of cuisines and a range of stylish environments to suit every taste.
Birroteca is the destination for modern, rustic Italian cuisine crafted using ingredients sourced from local ranchers, farmers and seafood vendors. Guests can enjoy communal dining service in a refined, casual setting. There are more than 24 craft beers on tap in addition to a focused Italian wine list and a selection of unique craft cocktails prepared with artisan distilled spirits and house-made mixes.