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Executive Director’s Letter 8/17/22

Congratulations to The Peale on its grand reopening last Saturday! After five years of hard work, the building has been successfully renovated, its programming revitalized, and its commitment as Baltimore’s Community Museum affirmed.

Of great historic importance, the Peale is the oldest museum building in the United States. Peale’s Museum and Gallery of the Fine Arts opened in August 1814 (207 years ago this week). Along with featuring the work of the Peale Family, the 19th century museum also displayed works by artists like Leonardo DaVinci, and was the birthplace of Baltimore Gas and Electric.

Shortly after Peale’s Museum closed in 1829, the City of Baltimore purchased the building for use as the City Hall (1830-1875). Following construction of the present City Hall on Holiday Street, the Peale Museum building became the Male and Female Colored School Number 1 (1878-1887), which marked the historic beginning of public secondary education for African Americans in Baltimore. It was later occupied by the Bureau of Water Supply and then utilized as rental space for shops and factories.

Later, the Peale became part of the Baltimore City Life Museums, but closed its doors in 1997. Since that time, a dedicated group of historians and volunteers worked tirelessly to preserve the building and its history. One-time board president, James D. Dilts was notable for his leadership in these efforts, although sadly, he did not live to celebrate this special day.

The Peale embodies fundamental elements of Baltimore’s history and culture. Now, in its new incarnation, the museum welcomes the present and future and leaves its doors open to local creatives, while providing the space and support they need to realize a complete and accessible cultural legacy for the City.

We are grateful for the amazing work of the entire Peale team, most especially Krista Green, Chief Administrative Officer; Jeffrey Kent, Artistic Director and Chief Curator; Nancy Proctor, Chief Strategy Officer; and Robin Marquis, Chief Operations Officer and Accessibility Manager for their leadership.

GBCA will be collaborating with the Peale this fall to host a series of Off The Web events at the Peale to highlight artists from the Baker Artist Portfolios. GBCA’s own David London and Kibibi Ajanku are collaborating on a new immersive Sankofa Dance Theater retrospective that will take place at the Peale starting in October.

Here’s to another Baltimore success story!


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