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Walters Art Museum to Transform One West Mount Vernon Place

Project will preserve building as architectural masterpiece

Baltimore, MD –Julia Marciari-Alexander, the Andrea B. and John H. Laporte Director of the Walters Art Museum, announced today that construction has begun on One West Mount Vernon Place, one of five historic buildings that make up the museum’s campus in Baltimore.  When it reopens in spring 2018, the Walters will have completed a major revitalization that will preserve its architecture and rich history while creating a space to present a dynamic, new approach to the world-class collection.

“Our goal with this project is to energize audiences, broaden the Walters’ appeal, and deepen the Walters’ connection to the historic neighborhood of Mount Vernon and the City of Baltimore,” said Marciari-Alexander.  “When the building closed in 2014 to update essential infrastructure and mechanical systems, we began planning to reopen One West Mount Vernon Place with a new view of the collection and more engaging ways to experience the Walters.”

The transformation is a $10.4 million undertaking that to date has received substantial support from the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, Baltimore County, and other sources. The Walters has secured more than $6 million in support and is working to raise an additional $4 million.

The One West Mt. Vernon Place project encompasses the Hackerman House mansion, the John and Berthe Ford Gallery, and the Carriage House. The John and Berthe Ford Gallery and Carriage House will reopen in fall 2017, and Hackerman House will reopen in spring 2018.

Preserve an Architectural Masterpiece

As part of the project, One West Mount Vernon Place, a monumental three-story Greek Revival mansion built in the mid-19th century, will be preserved, revealing the character of the architecture and the space.

“We are approaching the revitalization of One West Mount Vernon Place as if the building itself were a work of art,” said Marciari-Alexander. “By adhering to the highest possible preservation standards, the refurbishment retains the building’s rich architectural heritage while highlighting its many stunning features—a grand spiral staircase, Tiffany skylight, rooftop ornaments (palmette antefixes), intricate wood carvings and molding designs, and Baccarat-style chandeliers.”

Dynamic New Approach to World-Class Collection

When Hackerman House reopens, the first installation of art will celebrate the Walters’ stunning collection of ceramics from around the world. The installation will explore the multiple uses of ceramics and highlight the universality of ceramic art across cultures and time, from the oldest object in the collection to the newest. These installations will change over time rather than stay in place for years.

Works from the Asian art collection will find a home in a refreshed John and Berthe Ford Gallery and in the Carriage House. The John and Berthe Ford Gallery will house an exceptional collection of South Asian and Himalayan art, one of the most important holdings of its kind. The Carriage House will display East and Southeast Asian art including works from the Doris Duke Collection, which will be on view for the first time.

Enlivened Visitor Experience

Visitors will experience One West Mount Vernon Place and the art in new and exciting ways.  A first-floor conservatory becomes a gathering place in which visitors can linger and enjoy spectacular views of Mount Vernon Square. The library becomes a space to enjoy a display of rare books from the collection or page through manuscripts found on the Walters’ digital manuscripts website. A grand spiral staircase beneath the Tiffany skylight leads upstairs to the main art installation and a maker space that invites visitors of all ages to use tools and materials to create their own works of art.

Project Team & Construction

Marks, Thomas Architects is the architect of record for the project. Lewis Contractors has been named general contractor and is leading construction efforts. Exhibit design/interiors are being created by R+A+M Design Studio. The project manager and owner’s representative is Regan Associates, LLC. Additional firms working on the project include: Flux Design, exhibition lighting; Mueller Associates, Inc., M/E/P engineer: and Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., building envelope.

Construction work on the building includes refreshing the galleries, upgrading critical infrastructure, and creating new spaces to relax and enjoy the art. The work will follow the Maryland and Baltimore City architectural preservation guidelines to maintain the historic fabric of the 165-year-old building.

History of One West Mount Vernon Place

Over the years, One West Mount Vernon Place has had several different owners. Dr. John Hanson Thomas and his family lived in the home from 1850 to 1892. Mr. Francis M. Jencks and family resided in the mansion from 1892 to 1953. In 1963, Mr. Harry Lee Gladding bought the residence and lived in the home until the early 1980s. It was given to the City of Baltimore in 1984, an arrangement made possible by an extraordinary donation from Baltimore businessman and philanthropist Willard Hackerman. A competition was held to determine the building’s use, and the Walters was awarded stewardship. The building opened as part of the Walters in 1991.

The Walters’ Strategic Plan

This project is part of a set of multi-year goals and initiatives outlined in the Walters’ new strategic plan.  The plan envisions the museum as a transformative force in the region that inspires people to connect with each other through experiences with great works of art from across the globe and throughout time. The revitalization of One West Mount Vernon Place leads the way by activating the collections and historic buildings, and engaging audiences through experiences that are welcoming, meaningful, and exciting.

“This new view of One West Mount Vernon Place is an example of our strategic plan in action,” said Ellen N. Bernard, president of the Walters’ Board of Trustees. “We are looking to the future with much excitement.”

About the Walters Art Museum
The Walters Art Museum, located in downtown Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District at North Charles and Centre Streets, is free and open to the public. At the time of his death in 1931, museum founder Henry Walters left his entire collection of art to the city of Baltimore. Its collection includes ancient art, medieval art and manuscripts, decorative objects, Asian art, and Old Master and 19th-century paintings. The Museum Store offers distinctive gifts, jewelry, and books based on the museum’s collections.

Free admission to the Walters Art Museum is made possible through the combined generosity of individual members and donors, foundations, corporations, and grants from the City of Baltimore, Maryland State Arts Council, Citizens of Baltimore County, Howard County Government, and Howard County Arts Council.