BALTIMORE, MD (September 22, 2014)—Visit From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story, a new installation of the fourth floor galleries in honor of the Walters Art Museum’s 80th anniversary as a public institution. The free installation, opening on October 26, 2014, will take visitors on a journey through the extraordinary gift given by Henry Walters to Baltimore “for the benefit of the public.”

“From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story brings together many of our most famous works of art with lesser known works in order to explore the intriguing stories of our founders” says Julia Marciari-Alexander, executive director of the Walters Art Museum. “Visitors will discover more about these two entrepreneurs, collectors, philanthropists and the incredible legacy they left to Baltimore.”

The installation will include more than 200 artworks in seven galleries as well as archival Walters family photographs and documents. Visitors will explore how the Walters’ collection was displayed from the family’s townhouse at 5 West Mount Vernon Place, to the specially constructed top-lit painting gallery and Henry’s palazzo-style museum on Washington Place. The installation will also uncover the social scene of the time, the William and Henry Walters’ visits to artists’ studios in Paris and London, and the impact they had on the art movements of their time.

In the fall, talks and book signings by noted authors, curators and scholars will offer a glimpse into the tastes and personalities of America’s Gilded Age collectors. In December, the museum will launch an interactive mobile website to accompany The Walters Story. Visitors can use smartphones to make connections between works in the installation and the collection galleries.

“The works of art selected for this exhibition embody the highest level of beauty and craftsmanship for their time and place,” said Jo Briggs, assistant curator of 18th and 19th century art. “Because of Henry’s passion for art and his generosity, the Walters can tell the story of human creativity from prehistoric times to the early 20th century.”

From Rye to Raphael includes:

  • A 19th century salon-style gallery with paintings hung floor-to-ceiling to re-create selections of the Picture Gallery adjacent to the family home at 5 West Mt. Vernon Place;
  • A gallery of early 20th century jewelry by Tiffany and Lalique acquired by Henry Walters at International Exhibitions and World’s Fairs;
  • A gallery of French works by contemporary artists of William Walters’ time including Delacroix, Rousseau, and Gérôme alongside works by the same artists collected by Henry after his father’s death;
  • Family photographs from the Walters’ archives;
  • A story wall that gives a glimpse of 19th century life, in Baltimore and beyond and invites visitors to imagine the museum’s future.

From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story will be free and open to the public.

The installation is generously supported by the Richard C. von Hess Foundation; The Women’s Committee of the Walters Art Museum; Cynthia Redmond Mead; PNC—celebrating its 147-year relationship with the Walters and our shared commitment to Baltimore; Walters Family; Kathleen and William Farley; and other anonymous donors.

About the Founders

William Walters (1819-1894) and his son, Henry (1848-1931) formed their collection over the course of 80 years, from the mid-1850s until 1931. They traveled internationally, worked with multiple dealers, and made purchases at World’s Fairs and auctions.

William Thompson Walters, born in the village of Liverpool in central Pennsylvania, was drawn to Baltimore in 1841. Initially Walters became a grain merchant, but by 1852 he had established a wholesale rye liquor business. Subsequent investments in steamships, railroads and banking yielded a considerable fortune.

Following his father’s death in 1894, Henry Walters took over the family business interests and began to expand the family art collection.  He added to his father’s holdings, buying in New York and abroad, and collected Egyptian, ancient Near Eastern, Renaissance and Baroque and Islamic art, manuscripts and early printed books and a number of key classical and western medieval objects. In 1904, he commissioned an Italianate palazzo building at Charles and Centre Streets as a gallery to display the collection. He bequeathed the building and its contents of art, his family home, and a quarter of his fortune to the mayor and city council of Baltimore “for the benefit of the public.”

About the Walters Museum

The Walters Art Museum is located in Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District. Its permanent collection includes ancient art, medieval art and manuscripts, decorative objects, Asian art and Old Master and 19th century paintings. The Museum Store, located next to the museum’s Café Q, offers distinctive gifts, jewelry and books based on the Museum’s collections. Wyndham Baltimore Peabody Court is the official hotel of the Walters Art Museum.