Niche Baltimore Museums You Should Put on Your List
From trolleys to teeth, we’ve got a museum for you.
B&O Railroad Museum
You don’t need to be a train aficionado to appreciate a full-sized locomotive up close. Housed inside the original, historic roundhouse building, the B&O Railroad Museum pays homage to Baltimore as the birthplace of our country’s rail system with nearly 200 pieces of locomotive and rolling stock. Inside, you can climb aboard cast iron steam engines, take a short trip along the Mile One Express, or watch the elaborate model trains tour the tracks in the outdoor courtyard.
Baltimore Civil War Museum at President Street Station
Located in a former train terminal that opened in 1850, the Baltimore Civil War Museum explores the station’s role in the Civil War—a story that includes a secret escape by President-elect Abraham Lincoln to thwart an assassination attempt, and involvement in the Baltimore riot of 1861, when Massachusetts state militia troops were attacked by angry Confederate sympathizers.
Baltimore Streetcar Museum
The Baltimore Streetcar Museum boasts one of the most comprehensive collections of a city’s transit history. Stop by to take a tour and to see the collection of authentic Baltimore streetcars dating to 1888. As home to the first commercially operated electric streetcar line, you can also catch a ride on one the most historic streetcars in the country.
The Gallery in Baltimore City Hall
You don’t need to be a resident to have a reason to visit Baltimore’s majestic City Hall. Come through to see shows by local artists on curated Baltimore themes, like Derrick Adams’ “Where I’m From” and the recent show on “Barbers and Porters: Pillars of Community.” Plus, it’s free.
Irish Railroad Workers Museum
Just around the corner from B&O Railroad Museum, this niche museum sits inside two 1848 alley homes that once housed Irish railroad workers. One of the homes in the Irish Railroad Workers Museum is furnished to reflect the lives of the family who lived there in the 1860s; the other offers changing exhibits on the history and local experience of the Irish-American community in Southwest Baltimore.
Jewish Museum of Maryland
The Jewish Museum of Maryland celebrates the Jewish-American experience in Maryland via two galleries of ceremonial art, rare artifacts, oral histories, videos, photos and hands-on activities. A rotation of exhibits feature stories on everything from fashion to pioneering Jewish astronauts. Founded in 1960 to restore the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue, the campus now includes the museum alongside a research library, museum shop, meeting rooms and more.
Johns Hopkins Archeological Museum
Run by the namesake academic institution, the Johns Hopkins Archeological Museum displays objects of antiquity such as: Greek ceramics, Islamic glass, Hellenistic lamps and an ancient mummy from Egypt, as well as nearly 700 archaeological items from from Rome to the Americas.
Maryland Art Place
Located in the Bromo Tower Arts and Entertainment district, this free contemporary art gallery is devoted to showcasing the work of emerging and established mid-career artists. You can find changing curated exhibits by recent MFA graduates, as well as lectures and workshops. Maryland Art Place also works with local businesses to increase artist exposure by exhibiting in places like the Hotel Indigo and La Quinta Inn & Suites Downtown.
The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum
The Great Blacks In Wax Museum chronicles African American history through more than 100 wax figures and scenes. It was started in 1980 by a local couple, who spent their savings on the first 21 figures. Today, the museum has grown into a 30,000-square foot museum, complete with a powerful slave ship exhibit and a dedicated Maryland room spotlighting the contributions of local African Americans.
National Museum of Dentistry
Have a passion for oral history? The National Museum of Dentistry, part of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, America’s first dental school, examines the history of the profession through 40,000 objects. The collection includes George Washington’s dentures (they weren’t wooden, it turns out), vintage toothbrushes, and exhibits on dental forensics, cutting-edge biotechnology and even the different types of animal teeth.
University of Maryland School of Nursing Living History Museum
Established in 1999 as part of the University of Maryland’s nursing program, this collection explores the history and role of the nursing profession. The Living History Museum features artifacts such as the contents of a 1910 private nurse’s traveling bag, war correspondence from military nurses, a 19th century uniform and objects chronicling the history of the hosting school itself.
Sankofa Children’s Museum
Sankofa aims to introduce school-aged children to the traditions of Africa’s 54 nations, where many of their ancestors once lived. Ancient artifacts on display include bronze sculptures, fang masks and hunting tunics.
Bonus Pick: The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
While not exactly a museum, this exhibit certainly has a particular appeal. On the third floor of the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office, there is a display of 18 exquisitely crafted models depicting grisly vignettes from actual crime scenes. The dioramas, which were used to train police detectives, were made in the 1940s by Frances Glessner Lee, an eccentric Chicago woman who had been raised on Sherlock Holmes’ tales and had a lifelong fascination with sleuthing. The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death may be viewed by the public by appointment only.