American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Posted on September 9, 2012 by


My preconceptions of Baltimore were purely based on The Wire, Hairspray and the fact Edgar Allen Poe and John Waters called it home. So to discover the American Visionary Art Museum was not really a surprise but it was certainly a delight. The museum features an extensive collection of art by people who have never formally trained as artists. Out of over 50 museums and galleries I’ve visited over the last 6 months – this was my favourite. The exterior was covered in a mirrored mosaic, I was like a moth to the flame… Pictures were not allowed so I have sourced them online to demonstrate some of my favourite works for your entertainment, all sources are named. the exhibition listTaken from

This is Wayne Kusy pictured with his model of the Queen Mary ship, made entirely out of toothpicks. You have to see this to believe it! the exhibition list
Image taken from

‘Recovery’ was created by an anonymous British mental patient who suffered tuberculosis for years and thus had a concave chest. His doctor recalled he took no interets in art but during a walk in the hospital gardens saw a fallen apple tree and dragged the trunk inside and asked for some carving tools. The piece is on loan from the Edward Adamson Collection, he is a pioneer in using art as a treatment for patients and allowed the patient access to the dangerous carving equipment required. It took about 1 month to carve, the patient committed suicide about 2 years later, this is his only known work of art. Even before I read about it I was drawn to the carving, it embodies a melancholy feeling and reminded me somewhat of Modigliani. Truly movingthe exhibition listImage taken from

Wendy Brackman’s ‘Paper Plate Mandala’ in the ‘All Things Round’ exhibit was spectacular, 3D glasses were provided and it came to life as I walk around it like an excited child.  There were inspirational quote posted all round the gallery which brought a smile to my face.

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” English Proverbthe exhibition listImage taken from

This ‘Yardstick Throne’ was truly ‘fit for a ruler’. It stood at about 5ft and I really wanted to take it home and sit on it. The museum was just full of weird, wonderful, inspirational artwork and filled me with the need to start creating things of my own. 

“.. almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Steve Jobsthe exhibition list
Image taken from

The top floor gallery in the main building had an exhibit called ‘Love Letter to Earth’ by Gretchen Feldman who recently died of cancer. She had always painted but after studying cancer cells decided to create some image of beauty from them. Her life was full of colour, you can read more about her here.

“The more I think, the more I feel there is nothing truly more artistic, than to love people.’   Vincent Van Gogh

If you are anywhere near Baltimore, I suggest you get in your car, on the bus, put your running shoes on and get down there! Make sure you have enough to eat in their wonderful restaurant too.

Entry Fee: $10

Location: 800 Key Highway, Baltimore, MD 21230