It's the objects people surround themselves with that provide the most telling stories.
The paintings on our walls, our furniture, even the plates we use reveal our aspirations, our values — and, at times, our prejudices and fears.
The Baltimore Museum of Art celebrates its 100th anniversary on Nov. 23 with the reopening of the newly renovated American Wing and the historic columned entrance.
With more than 850 paintings, sculptures and silver on display, the BMA's holdings in American art are considered one of the finest collections on the East Coast, according to museum director Doreen Bolger. About 50 of the objects set to be on view either have rarely or never been shown before now.
"There's nothing more exciting than pulling out a piece of art that's been here all along, hiding in plain sight," Bolger said. "This is a really good collection. I think people will be surprised when they see what we've done."
To mark the reopening, we asked David Park Curry, the museum's curator of decorative arts, American painting and sculpture, to tell us a story about one artwork in each of five categories: most significant, a recent acquisition, most noticeable, on display for the first time, and quirkiest.
Most significant: Thomas Cole's 'A Wild Scene'
There is the moral of all human tales;
'Tis but the same rehearsal of the past.
First freedom and then Glory – when that fails,
Wealth, vice, corruption – barbarism at last.
— "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
by George Gordon, Lord Byron
Everywhere that the landscape painter Thomas Cole looked, people were mucking up the world.
Quirkiest: Karl L.H. Muller's 'Walrus' beer pitcher
Recent acquisition: 'Bronco Buster' by Frederic Remington
Never Before Shown: 'Pier Mirror,' maker unknown
Most Noticeable: 'Baptism of Christ' window designed for the Tiffany Glass & Decorating Company by Frank Brangwyn; flanked by 'Pair of Mosaic Columns,' designed around 1897 by Louis Comfort Tiffany