The Walters Art Museum

Islamic, Single Leaf of a Lady with a Fan, 11th century AH/AD 17th century. The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum contains more than 28,000 works of art, a comprehensive collection ranging from the 3rd millennium CE to the early 20th century CE Its holdings include the ancient art of Egypt, Greece, and Rome, European art from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, 18th- and 19th-century European and American art, and Asian and Islamic art, as well as an outstanding manuscript and rare book collection. Selections from the Walters Art Museum's permanent collection are currently represented in the Artstor Digital Library with 3,700 images, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, and decorative arts. The collection will also be made available as high-resolution downloads for academic publishing; for more information, please see Images for Academic Publishing.

The Walters Art Museum was born from the private collections of two men, William T. Walters and his son, Henry. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, they collected a diverse range of objects from around the world, whether ancient Roman sarcophagi or contemporary European paintings. Together, they amassed nearly 22,000 works of art, building the foundation for the museum's collections. As early as 1874, William Walters opened his residence on Mount Vernon Place for public viewing of his collections. His son purchased several other properties in the same neighborhood, with a view to establishing a permanent art gallery. Upon his death in 1931, Henry Walters bequeathed the core of his collection to the City of Baltimore “for benefit of the public.” In 1934, The Walters Art Gallery was briefly reopened so that visitors could view the original installations before it was closed and transformed into a modern public museum. The museum was closed once again in 1998 in order to complete a renovation of the entire facility. Three years later, it reopened as the Walters Art Museum, with 39 newly refurbished galleries and an extended suite of public spaces. Beginning in the fall of 2006, both the Walters Art Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Art instituted a free admission policy, made possible by grants from the City of Baltimore and Baltimore County.

The museum is also known for its work in conservation research and education. As early as 1934, the museum employed a restorer and chemist in its conservation and technical research laboratory, one of the first in the United States. Today, that laboratory is a division with the museum, engaged in the examination, documentation, treatment, and research of the museum's collections, as well as the education of professionals in the fields of conservation and conservation science.