A few weeks ago, I took my own advice and headed north to make the most of Baltimore’s dollar museum days. My boyfriend is a sucker for sea turtles, and we figured we were long overdue for a trip to the amazing aquarium. But as it turned out, everyone else in town had the same idea, and all of the tickets were sold out by noon. So, with our original itinerary thwarted, we set out to explore the city without a predefined plan (though admittedly, this time, having the iPhone helped). As we tried to convince ourselves that deserving children were probably enjoying the turtles in our place, we circled the harbor and decided to instead explore the American Visionary Art Museum. What a treat. I’ve seen fish, but this, this was incredible.
The museum is an amalgam of works done by untrained artists, described simply by the museum literature as “entirely spontaneous and individualized… like love, you know it when you see it.”And indeed, I was in love the moment I walked through the doors. Perhaps it’s because when you go to a museum, you can typically predict what you’ll see inside just by reading the name on the building. But here, you have no idea. In the current exhibit, “The Marriage of Art, Science and Philosophy,” there was a collection of Bic pen drawings of sci-fi fantasy scenes, a gallery of tiny sculptures carved from the lead of pencils, and a series of gloriously funny quilted pieces by artist Chris Roberts-Antieau, whose works include “The Nine Wonders of the World, The 21st Century Edition,” (highlights: rolling luggage, hair plugs, and Ziploc bags). There’s also an outdoor warehouse which holds a series of entries in the museum’s annual Kinetic Sculpture Race, and a sampling of screen paintings, which are a Baltimore tradition. If you’re anywhere near Charm City, you should go. Go.
And what to eat while you’re there? Find out after the jump.
While you’re there, be sure to check out two tasty eateries that I sampled that Sunday, which come highly recommended as well. Dangerously Delicious Pies
(with locations in Hampden and Federal Hill) offers pies of both the savory and sweet variety, so naturally I felt it best to try both. The chicken pot pie was flaky and delicious, but let’s be serious, you’re there for the dessert. So I got a slice of the Mobtown Brown, a mix of pecan pie with Belgian chocolate and caramel, which comes with a warning to watch out for your dental work, and is perhaps the definition of dangerously delicious.
If you’re up for more of meal (and a beer to go with it) don’t miss The Brewer’s Art.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Tucked into a townhouse in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood, the restaurant serves up a European-country menu of duck, lamb shanks, and schnitzels, plus a fantastic selection of house beers, my personal favorite being the Resurrection Ale. If you’re feeling the effects of the pie and want a smaller meal, head downstairs and order from the bar menu, and be sure to grab a pint.
In all, the boyfriend and I were more than satisfied with our fantastic, though unplanned, outing in Baltimore. So it was fitting then when I came across a quote at the museum from Hobart Brown, who created the Visionary Art Museum’s Kinetic Sculpture Race. “Adults are obligated to have fun so that children will want to grow older,” he said. Sometimes art, pie, and beer can be much more fun than turtles.
Photos: Janelle Nanos