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American Visionary Art Museum

The American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) is an art museum located in Baltimore, Maryland‘s Federal Hill neighborhood at 800 Key Highway. The museum specializes in the preservation and display of outsider art (also known as “intuitive art,” “raw art,” or “art brut”). 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. Congress has designated it as America’s national museum for visionary art.

AVAM’s 1.1-acre campus contains 67,000 square feet of exhibition space and a permanent collection of approximately 4,000 pieces. The permanent collection includes works by visionary artists like Ho Baron, Nek Chand, Howard Finster, Vanessa German, Mr. Imagination (aka Gregory Warmack), Leonard Knight, William Kurelek, Leo Sewell, Judith Scott, Ben Wilson, as well as over 40 pieces from the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre of London. AVAM artists, the museum boasts, include “farmers, housewives, mechanics, the disabled, the homeless. . . all inspired by the fire within.” The museum’s Main Building features three floors of exhibition space. The campus includes a Tall Sculpture Barn and Wildflower Garden and large exhibition and event spaces in the Jim Rouse Visionary Center. EZ Bed Bug Exterminator Baltimore

The museum has no staff curators, preferring to use guest curators for its shows. Rather than focusing on specific artists or styles, it sponsors themed exhibitions with titles such as Wind in Your Hair and High on Life. The museum’s founder, Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, is proud that AVAM is “pretty un-museum.”

Community Involvement

AVAM has a long history of programs and practices to better the community. In 1997, several of AVAM’s few full-time employees were hired directly from local homeless shelters. The murals which constitute the Museum’s exterior walls were created and installed by members of AVAM’s youth-at-risk and youth-incarcerated mosaic apprenticeship program in 2000. AVAM sponsors Baltimore artistic events, including art car events and the annual East Coast Championship Kinetic Sculpture Race. In 2010, AVAM started an After School program in collaboration with nearby Federal Hill Preparatory School, giving students access to the museum’s collections and art workshop offerings. In October 2012, some pieces made by these students were auctioned off to benefit the Children’s Home in Catonsville. AVAM expanded the program to a series of free workshops called The Institute for Visionary Explorers in the Enoch Pratt Free Library in 2012. AVAM was also the site of the inaugural Steps for the Cure, a breast cancer awareness event and fundraiser.

Address: 800 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD

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