Baltimore’s namesake fine art museum revealed Tuesday that it will open a new satellite art space downtown in Lexington Market — the downtown plaza known as the United States’ oldest continually operating marketplace — this week.
The Baltimore Art Museum announced in a news release that BMA Lexington Market will officially open Thursday. The outpost occupies a 250-square-foot space that will host special exhibits, programming and other activities aimed at connecting the museum and its extensive collections with the public. The release noted that the space’s programming will revolve around a specific theme every season; this one acknowledges Lexington Market’s history by focusing “on food, including nutrition, issues of access, local foodways, and more throughout the summer.”
“Lexington Market is an absolutely magical place, and in a city built on racial and economic fault lines, it has maintained a place in the city where those walls are brought down,” Dave Eassa, the BMA’s manager of community engagement, wrote in an email to The Baltimore Sun. “Public markets are spaces that are so alive, vibrant, and beautiful. We feel the responsibility to not only continue to bring art to people, but to also document stories and lived history that exists there. It is important to note that art is powerful when used to build connections between people, and in a time where the market is changing, we want to leverage art to create a space that is open to all, at all times, and always free.”
BMA Lexington Market’s programming, much of which Eassa oversees with colleague and fellow artist Malaika Clements, also intersects with the museum’s ongoing exhibits.The BMA previously partnered with the Greenmount West Community Center for a youth photography workshop with Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick, the artists behind the ongoing “Slavery, The Prison Industrial Complex: Photographs by Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick” exhibition. BMA Lexington Market will showcase the students’ work during an exhibition from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, the day before the public opening.
BMA Lexington Market is the museum’s sixth branch location in its 105-year existence. The latest of these, the BMA Outpost, is a mobile site that brings art to under-resourced communities.
"Lexington Market was an early host site for the Outpost and our experience there was amazing, because it’s really a crossroads of the city," Eassa wrote. "BMA Lexington Market came about not only through the recent work of the BMA Outpost, but also through our educational programs within the walls of the Baltimore Museum of Art."
Eassa added that BMA Lexington Market aims to reach a variety of Baltimoreans, regardless of interest in traditional art museums or markets.
“BMA Lexington Market is for folks who use Lexington Market and those who don’t, some every day, some every once in a while,” he wrote. “It is for people who identify as artists, for people who do not. It is for families, children, and adults. It’s for people who have never set foot in the BMA and folks who come to the BMA all the time to meet, create, and share.”