The American Visionary Art Museum is unlike any other in the country. It’s certainly a standout attraction in Baltimore. Open from 10am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday, this museum celebrates the artists and art that might not find a home in the biggest museums of the world, but that deserve a fantastic venue for celebration and education.
Although the Visionary Art Museum closes on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day, it makes a point of staying open on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a celebration of all of life’s possibilities—including free admission and special programming for all.
The new Encantada restaurant at the Visionary Art Museum carries the whimsy of the place and mixes it with the best of local food. Described as an enchanted escape where boundaries are blurred and tastes are celebrated, the on-site restaurant has partnered with local ranchers, farmers and watermen to offer the freshest seasonal products daily.
Named the Best Restaurant for Vegetarians by City Paper, the menu is heavy in vegetables grains and fruits. But omnivores can rest assured the animal proteins are carefully chosen, selecting those who have been raised humanely with a GMO-free diet, and their seafood reflects what is available locally from some of the best fishermen on the east coast.
You won’t find more original gifts or souvenirs than what you’ll see in the museum gift store, Sideshow. It’s filled with original art, great books, jewelry, fun toys, novelties, vintage memories, and a great selection of cards and stationery.
The Big Hope Show is an art exhibition that champions the radiant and transformative power of hope. Over twenty-five visionary artists, among them many “super survivors” of enormous personal traumas, exhibit soulful creations.
A hopeful look as to what constitutes community policing at its best is spotlighted in a video tribute to Kevin Briggs, the California trooper who so caringly connected with would-be suicide jumpers on the Golden Gate Bridge, and successfully helped save upwards of 200 lives. The Big Hope Show also addresses justice at its worse, with a visceral depiction of the life and artistry of the late Herman Wallace, an innocent Louisiana man who spent more than four decades in a solitary confinement cell measuring just 6′ x 9′. Jackie Sumell powerfully conveys Wallace’s experience with the remarkably humane and hopeful installation of Herman’s House.
In another public first, The Big Hope Show unveils the fiercely blissful art of psychedelic rock pioneer and Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne. At AVAM, Coyne will provide visitors a peek into what really fuels his hope and happiness with a feel-good, visitor immersive, art installation.
Also in this exhibition: colored pencil master Margaret Munz-Losch; cancer survivor, artist and performer Chris Roberts-Antieau shares her elaborately embroidered fabric story pieces; and Nancy Josephson takes center stage with her 10-ft tall, beaded Bird Goddess sculpture.
The American Visionary Art Museum considers itself one small speck in a Bling Universe, where art reflects life, both literally and figuratively. This exhibition is as glittering and sparkly is one can get, and features larger-than life installments.
The Cosmic Galaxy Egg is a hypnotically beautiful, eight-foot sculpture that shimmers from the center of The Jim Rouse Visionary Center’s bird-themed entrance plaza. Inspired by the deep space imagery captured by the Hubble Telescope (whose earthly home is here at Baltimore’s Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)) the Egg features swirling galaxies, nascent stars, and even our tiny earth.
The Gallery-A-Go-Go mosaic bus has been around since 1996. It has traveled from Chicago to Houston to Baltimore, where it now resides in front of AVAM. In a similar theme, the Community Mosaic Wall Project is a dramatic mirror, glass, and found-object mosaic on the museum’s exterior walls.
The Hughes Family Outdoor Theater is home to the Flicks from the Hill summer family movie series, and it’s also home to the 11-foot Giant Golden Hand. Flicks from the Hill has been listed by the international magazine Travel + Leisure as one of the “World’s Best Free Things” and is frequently listed as one of Baltimore City Paper’s “Critic’s Picks.”