Adjacent to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a gem of a place called the American Visionary Art Museum. The building itself is hard to miss and immediately grabs your attention as you make your way around the harbor. The AVAM promotes Visionary Artists. What is visionary art? Well…the museum’s mission statement says that “Visionary art as defined for the purposes of the American Visionary Art Museum refers to art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself.” In other words, “passionate people doing things that create a fire in their soul”. This museum quickly turned out to be my all-time favorite art museum to date. The works were raw and titillated all of my senses. Everything in the building (and it’s outskirts) was so colorful and catching to the eye. The AVAM is a Baltimore staple, a “must-see” attraction. Don’t miss it!
The museum does not allow photography in their gallery buildings, but walking around the exterior of the buildings you will find tantalizing tidbits of art everywhere. You can actually take the elevator up to the top floor of this building and step out into the bird’s nest. It’s a popular place to host special events like weddings too.
This whirligig at the entrance captured my attention with all of the colorful moving parts. The wind and sky made a little show out of it.
I have a deep affection for ducks. This snazzy guy won me over with his keen fashion sense.
This pink burro was found as we wandered around the grounds. He seems to be ready for adventure with his cool goggles.
Once inside the museum, the artwork only gets better. This ship blew my mind. Wayne Kusy’s Lusitania was made from 193,000 toothpicks over 2 1/2 years! The detail was amazing right down to the little life boats. It’s this kind of passion and energy that make these untrained artists so inspiring.
This is Fifi. Fifi takes part in the Kinetic Sculpture Race and is also on display in the museum. The Kinetic Sculpture Race is made up of one or a small group of pilots that create a human-powered work of art to travel over land, mud, and sea. I would love to see Fifi in action one year.
The AVAM has a nice little shop called Sideshow where they sell all sorts of weird and fabulous stuff. From books to costumes and snacks, you can find a little of everything here at Sideshow. When Kenin and I walked through it, he turned to me and said it looked “like a hoarder’s garage sale, but in a good way”. I think that sums it up nicely.
The museum’s main building is made up of three floors of artwork that are regularly refreshed. Words can’t even begin to describe how eclectically amazing it was. Though the artists featured at the American Visionary Art Museum might not be “formally trained”, they stirred in me exactly what good art should… Emotion! Because the artists were unrestricted by the typical conventions of formal art training, they wildly mixed media in a way that simply evoked raw emotion. It’s almost as if the lack of refinement in their pieces was a window into the raw emotion that inspired the pieces to begin with. There were hardly any pieces in the whole museum that didn’t make us stop and feel something. There were pieces that made me sad, works that made me angry, and whimsical features like Fifi, that made me want to wet myself with glee. One of the most impactful galleries was the one featuring the artist Frank Bruno. The majority of his pieces feature images of the upcoming Apocalypse and the End of Days. He refuses to sell any of his work, but has agreed to allow it to be displayed in the AVAM. His use of detail and color is absolutely stunning.
After spending a day at the museum, I dubbed it “The Ratatouille of Museums”. Not everyone can be a great artist, but great art can come from anyone. If you find yourself in the Baltimore area, you definitely need to work your way over to the American Visionary Art Museum and pay them a visit.
For more things to do in the Baltimore area, you may want to check out our new Baltimore travel guide and trip planner.
Did you enjoy this post about the American Visionary Art Museum ? If so please take a moment to subscribe to our newsletter or connect with me on social media via Facebook, twitter, +Lauren, Bloglovin, tumblr, Pinterest, or YouTube!