Entrance to the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore.
The museum is housed in three buildings, along with some outdoor space and is partially covered in this mirrored mosaic. The works inside are all by artists with no formal training, but some were simply spectacular.
The American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) is an art museum located in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland. The city agreed to give the museum a piece of land on the south shore of the Inner Harbor under the condition that its organizers would clean up residual pollution from a copper paint factory and a whiskey warehouse that formerly occupied the site. It has been designated by Congress as America’s national museum for self-taught art.
The founder and director of AVAM is Rebecca Hoffberger, a former psychiatric nurse who left her job to “trumpet the wonders of raw human creativity” . She raised $7 million in six years from donors such as Anita Roddick before opening the museum to the public on November 24, 1995.
Although her ability to raise large quantities of cash is impressive, her rejection of academic scholarship and her refusal to follow tradition have upset prominent members of the art world. For examples, Chicago art dealer Carl Hammer said, “To open a museum of this magnitude, and the fact that no one had ever heard of her before… She totally ignored the rest of scholarship and just did it completely on her own. It gave people immediate bad vibes… The museum did things its own way, without coming to anyone else” (Fine 2004, p. 253).
Despite her philosophies, and often in fact because of them, the museum has won the support of collectors and the public through its exhibitions that examine the relationship of art to the human condition rather than to the canon of art history. The museum has no staff curators, preferring to use guest curators for its shows. Rather than focusing shows on specific artists or styles, it sponsors “themed” exhibitions with titles such as Wind in Your Hair and High on Life. Hoffberger takes pride in the fact that AVAM is “pretty un-museumy” .
AVAM has 55,000 square feet of exhibit space but has a permanent collection of only 5,000 pieces. Some of this work is displayed in a gallery on the first floor of the Main Building, throughout the James Rouse Visionary Center, and outdoors when new temporary “themed” exhibitions are being installed.
Mosaic Art Source American Visionary Art Museum Mosaic Archive