The Walters Art Museum is among America’s most distinctive museums, forging connections between people and art from cultures around the world and spanning seven millennia. Through its collections, exhibitions, and education programs, the Walters engages the City of Baltimore, Maryland, and audiences across the globe.
Located in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, the Walters is free for all. The museum’s campus includes five historic buildings and 36,000 art objects. Moving through the museum’s galleries, visitors encounter a stunning array of objects, from 19th-century paintings of French country and city life to Ethiopian icons, richly illuminated Qur’ans and Gospel books, ancient Roman sarcophagi, and images of the Buddha.
The Walters Art Museum was established in 1934 “for the benefit of the public.” Originally called the Walters Art Gallery, the museum started when Henry Walters (1848–1931) bequeathed to the City of Baltimore an extensive art collection begun by his father, William T. Walters (1819–1894), two buildings, and an endowment. While previous descriptions of William and Henry Walters have focused on their roles as philanthropists and art collectors, the museum is now addressing and examining their support of the Confederacy and their Eurocentric collecting. In 2000, the Walters Art Gallery became the Walters Art Museum, a change that reflects the museum’s role as a major public cultural institution. The museum’s original collection and now three of the museum’s five buildings are owned by the City of Baltimore and stewarded by the Walters.
Since its founding, the Walters’ mission has been to bring art and people together and to create a place where people of every background can be moved by art. In addition to offering free admission to the museum and special exhibitions, the Walters is committed to public education, offering essential programs that help people to connect art to their lives. The Walters is also a leader in digitization, releasing high-resolution, digital images of collection objects into the public domain for any use, free of charge, on the works of art site and award-winning manuscripts website Walters Ex Libris. The Walters’ Visitor Promise aligns staff and volunteers across the museum to preserve and share the works in our care for future generations, partner with communities, and create welcoming, accessible experiences for visitors.
Today, the Walters serves Baltimore and Maryland by embracing its role as educators and storytellers, using the collection as a vehicle of knowledge and cultural expression to support learning, dialogue, and community engagement. We invite you to learn more about these efforts in the museum’s Strategic Plan as well as the Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) goals.