Old Makes New, Again & Again


Old Makes New, Again & Again


Summer, 2016
Volume 4, Issue 5
“Colossal Head in the Guise of Hercules,” Venetian, 2nd century, reworked 14th century, The Walters Art Museum, 27.533

Dear Reader,

“Waste Not: The Art of Medieval Recycling,” a remarkable new exhibit at The Walters Art Museum, demonstrates a very ancient practice.

This might sound surprising. After the unprecedented mass consumerism following WWII, the concept of recycling gained steam in America. First, in the 1970s, with the advent of Earth Day, and then in the 80s and 90s as landfills overflowed and the rainforests were razed–recycling wasn’t just popular, it was the right thing to do. But curiously enough, the idea wasn’t new.

“I think everyone can relate to the concepts of reuse and recycling, so key in our modern world,” says Lynley Anne Herbert, the Robert and Nancy Hall assistant curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts. “Through this exhibit, visitors will discover how equally prevalent and important this was in the medieval era.

Located in the Walters’ Manuscript Gallery, the exhibit features 20 treasures that visibly display proof of prior incarnations.

For instance, an enormous head of the Greek god Hercules did ‘double duty’ as a medieval saint outside of a baptistery in Florence, Italy. Originally chiseled during the 2nd century, craftsmen unearthed the 3-foot high marble head in the 1300s. They drilled precise holes in his lustrously curled beard so that medieval pilgrims would better observe the effect from far distances.

This process was known as spolia, says Curator Herbert, which means a reuse of decorative sculpture on new monuments, and it was quite common throughout the medieval era. These artisans did not have the complex trading routes the ancient Romans used to secure new building materials of the same caliber, so they simply reused what they found.

I’m not sure how Hercules himself felt about the costume change–his head had been repurposed so many times, curators at the Walters actually weren’t sure what era to categorize him in–but he seems quite happy greeting visitors into this exhibit. Plus, he makes a fine subject for a selfie or two.

Ghostly Writing

Beneventan Sacramentary-Missal, Venetian, 2nd half 11th century, Manuscripts & Rare Book, R358434

Curator Herbert also detailed how parchment, which is made by soaking, drying and stretching animal skin, would be reused in medieval times. As new psalms were created, monks couldn’t just buy another ream of paper at Staples. Thus they undertook an arduous process of literally washing the old ink from the parchment, drying it, and then applying new verses with tattoo-like precision.

On the manuscript (at right), conservators had discovered the text of an older psalm using a special light. (In fact, the Walters is renowned for advancements made in the realm of manuscript conservation.) An x-ray image of the ghostly text accompanies the page on display.

The Walters always does a fantastic job in not only telling stories, but also illuminating the process behind their discoveries, which makes the visitor feel like they’re along for the ride. You can also see examples of other fascinating conservation projects here. Or, you can visit The Walters’ conservation lab and watch their process first-hand every Friday-Sunday between 12:30 and 4pm.

“Two Leaves from the Mirror of Human Salvation,” German, late 14 century, The Walters Art Museum, W.149

A Textbook Cover of Epic Proportions

An even more apparent example of recycling parchment is another manuscript fragment (at right) made in Germany in the 14th century. Can you see the outline of the book the outer page covered? Who doesn’t remember using a brown paper bag to wrap their elementary school text books! The idea behind this practice is the same, as both are done to protect a valuable book from wear and tear. “Someone would have carried this book around in a knapsack,” Curator Herbert explains. “It would have gotten dirty, it would have had grunge.” She also adds that many of The Walters’ astounding collection of 4,500 manuscripts have unique covers because Henry Walters had a keen eye for these pieces.

In addition to sculpture and manuscripts, “Waste Not: The Art of Medieval Recycling” features exquisite jewelry, carved ivory, spiritual vessels and more. The exhibit runs now through Sunday, September 18 and is completely free–making it a great place to escape the humid summer heat.

More Fun at The Walters

Waste Land (2010), a film by Vik Muniz and presented in partnership with the Maryland Film Festival

Accompanying the exhibit, The Walters is hosting a special discussion about modern ‘remixes’ of art and music on Thursday, July 7 from 6:30-7:15 pm: Curator Herbert will examine the medieval art exhibition Making Odd Ends Meet, artist Loring Cornish will discuss his mosaic works, and DJ James Nasty will demonstrate how music is sampled and remixed. Register for this event here.

A screening of the film Waste Land takes place on July 14 at 6:30pm. Waste Land follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”-self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. His artistic collaboration with these inspiring characters reveals both their dignity and despair as they begin to re-imagine their lives outside the dump. A moderated Q&A session will follow the screening. This event is presented in partnership with the Maryland Film Festival. Register for the film event here.

And on Thursday, August 18 at 6pm, Guest artist Thea Canlas will show you some easy techniques to turn those plastic bags you have overflowing in your kitchen into a useful DIY object! Participants will learn how to make “plarn,” or plastic yarn, which can be used for knitting, crocheting, and sewing. Register here.

The Walters Art Museum is located at 600 N. Charles Street in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon Cultural District. It’s open daily from 10 am-5pm and is completely free of charge. Call 410-547-9000 for more information or visit www.thewalters.org.


Upcoming Events In Mount Vernon
Presented in Alphabetical Order


Baltimore School For the Arts
712 Cathedral Street | 443-642-5167 | Website


Music Motivating Minds

Time For Summer Camp!

Current BSA students and BSA alumni are either partaking –or organizing–innovative camps this summer for students of all ages! Music Motivating Minds, run by two BSA alumni, Dontae and Mashica Winslow – is a two-week summer camp that is free of charge for 35 children who participate in music, dance, academics and other activities throughout the day. Dontae recently worked with Beyonce and Dr. Dre and played at the BET awards. He’s also a grad of Peabody and won their Young Maestro Award. 

In addition, current BSA students are participating in a six week video camp sponsored by the Saul Zaentz Foundation. BSA high school students across all disciplines are learning to film, write scripts, act, and will produce short pieces at the end of six weeks. Check out this piece by Ron Matz from WJZ on that program by clicking here.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
1212 Cathedral Street | 410-783-8000 | Website


Star-Spangled Spectacular

Star-Spangled Spectacular
Sun, July 3, 2016 | 8:00 PM
(Oregon Ridge Park)
Mon, July 4, 2016 | 8:00 PM
(Oregon Ridge Park)

Nicholas Hersh, conductor
Larry D. Hylton, tenor
Audrey Weise, “O, Say Can You Sing?”
contest winner performing July 3
Michael Miller, “O, Say Can You Sing?”
contest winner performing July 4

The BSO’s essential red, white and blue bash! This outdoor celebration features patriotic favorites such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, topped off with dazzling fireworks. Plus, hear the winner of the BSO’s famed “O, Say Can You Sing?” contest perform The Star-Spangled Banner.

Come out early for food trucks and fun! Gates open at 5 pm.

There are two options for parking at Star-Spangled Spectacular:

Free parking in a remote lot with shuttle is available in a new location this year: Shawan Downs, located across from The Oregon Grill at 1401 Shawan Rd., Cockeysville.

A limited quantity of on-site parking is available for $12 in advance, $15 on site. Advance purchase is recommended.

Event tickets available online at $18 for adults and $9 for children. Tickets will also be available at the gate at $20 for adults and $10 for children. Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert
Thursday, August 4 | 7:30 PM
The Meyerhoff
Saturday, August 6 | 3:00 PM
The Meyerhoff

Justin Freer, conductor

The Harry Potter™ film series is one of those once-in-a-lifetime cultural phenomena that continues to delight millions of fans around the world. This concert will feature the Baltimore Symphony performing every note from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™. Audiences will be able to relive the magic of the film in high-definition on a giant screen while hearing the orchestra perform John Williams’ unforgettable score.

HARRY POTTER characters, names and related indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR. (s16) Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.

Maryland Historical Society
201 W. Monument Street | Phone 410-685-3750 | Website


What & Why:
Collecting At the Maryland Historical Society
A New Exhibit 
Sign from the Hippo, club formerly on Charles and Eager Streets, Baltimore, 1980s, MdHS, Gift of Mr. Charles Bower, 2015.19

The Maryland Historical Society proudly launches its newest exhibit, Why & Why: Collecting at the Maryland Historical Society, which contains more than 50 items spanning four centuries of donations to the Maryland Historical Society, including the sign from Club Hippo, two of Eubie Blake’s practice pianos, period clothing, portraits, silver, a wool tapestry of George Washington, and a video installation of images from the Preserve the Baltimore Uprising project. The exhibit will run through June 30, 2017.

About the Sign from the Hippo, club formerly on Charles and Eager Streets, Baltimore 

Charles L. “Chuck” Bower, the donor, was the second owner of the Hippo after purchasing the establishment in 1978. When he recently needed to vacate the building, he offered this sign to the Maryland Historical Society.

From 1972 until its closing in the fall of 2015, the Hippo, formerly the Chanticleer Club, was the linchpin of Baltimore’s gay community. Chuck Bower, owner of the club since 1978, wanted it to be a place where everyone was accepted and, in the late 1980s, stepped up to help Baltimore deal with the HIV/AIDS crisis. The role of the Hippo became more than just a meeting place, but grew to be one of the main symbols of the city’s gay community.

When asked to why he gave this sign to the MdHS, Bower wrote, “I know the Maryland Historical Society will take great care of [it.]” He went on to give a history of the club, explaining, “In 1972, Club Hippo opened to serve Baltimore’s gay population. For many years the ‘Club’ was a safe place where the gay community could gather, dance and enjoy themselves. As the years passed and society became more accepting of the lifestyle, one could find people from all walks of life enjoying the energy, atmosphere, state of the art lights and the high energy dance music. The Hippo is one of a few clubs that can boast of its longevity, open for 44 years under the same name. The club hosted many events to support community needs to would benefit citizens of Baltimore. It is my pleasure to donate the sign that welcome people for 44 years. The sign hung over one of the many entrances of the club.”

“We are very excited about the acquisition of the Club Hippo sign,” says Maryland Historical Society President and CEO Mark B. Letzer. “We are committed to telling the stories of the LGBT community as well as of all Marylanders.”

The Maryland Humanities Council
108 West Centre Street | 410-685-0095 | Website


July 5-14: Chautauqua History comes alive with Maryland Humanities’ FREE Chautauqua living history performance series each July. Audience members meet historical figures then participate in a thoughtful dialogue with each character. Chautauqua 2016 celebrates the Pulitzer Prize centennial with three characters: Duke Ellington, the incomparable showman; Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize; and Ernest Hemingway, one of the greatest American literary figures of the twentieth century. Find a location near you at mdhumanities.org/events.

July 16: Literary Mount Vernon Walking Tour 11 a.m.

Meet outside the Enoch Pratt Free Library Central Branch
400 Cathedral St, Baltimore, MD, 20201, Baltimore Metro

On the Maryland Humanities literary walking tour of Historic Mount Vernon, you can dive into the world of rare books at the Peabody Library, see where the lives of Emily Post and Gertrude Stein intersected, and more. Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at https://2016mtvernonlitwalk.eventbrite.com

Spotlighters Theatre
817 Saint Paul Street | Phone: 410-752-1225 | Website



July 8-July 31, 2016

Book, Music & Lyrics: Jonathan Larson
Direction: Jillian Bauersfeld
Musical Direction: Michael W. Tan

Synopsis: An aspiring composer questions his life choices on the eve of his thirtieth birthday in Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical. Before Rent, there was Tick, Tick…Boom!. This autobiographical musical by Jonathan Larson, the Pulitzer Prize- and TONY Award-winning composer of Rent, is the story of a composer and the sacrifices he made to achieve his big break in theatre. Containing fourteen songs, ten characters, three actors, and a band, Tick, Tick…Boom! takes you on the playwright/composer’s journey that led to a Broadway blockbuster!

Garrick Zink as Jon; Clare Kneebone as Susan; and Rob Wall as Michael

Fri & Sat – 8pm; Sun – 2pm

Tickets: Adults $20; Seniors (60+) $18; Students & Military $16.
 Ten Spot Thursday – ALL TICKETS JUST $10: July 14, 2016 – 8:00pm at 8 PM (no other discounts apply). Purchase tickets by clicking here.

The Walters Art Museum
600 N. Charles Street | Phone: 410-547-9000 | Website


The Walters Appoints Kate Burgin Deputy Director for Museum Advancement
Kate Burgin

Kate Burgin has been named the institution’s new Deputy Director for Museum Advancement after a national search. Burgin will lead the museum’s Advancement Division of development, marketing and communications, and visitor services staff dedicated to engaging audiences, building support and increasing awareness of the Walters. In this role, she joins the Walters’ senior leadership team, which comprises Eleanor Hughes as Deputy Director for Art & Program; Kathleen Basham as Chief Operating Officer; and Executive Director Marciari-Alexander.

“Kate brings a depth of experience in organizational strategy, audience development and revenue enhancement with a focus on cultural nonprofits,” said Marciari-Alexander. “Her data-driven approach and expertise in building engagement will lead to an expanded base of support for the Walters, and her wonderful presence will be an incredible asset to Baltimore’s arts community.”

“The naming of Kate Burgin to this role completes Julia’s new senior leadership team,” said Ellen N. Bernard, president of the Board of Trustees of the Walters Art Museum. “As the Walters continues its commitment to free admission for everyone, this leadership team will ensure that we engage audiences and increase our generous public and private support to sustain this great museum for generations to come.”

Burgin comes to the Walters with extensive experience in organizational strategy, audience development and revenue enhancement for arts and cultural nonprofits and foundations. Previously she was Senior Vice President and Director of Research and Special Initiatives at TDC, one of the nation’s top management consulting firms for the nonprofit sector. Burgin’s prior experience includes six years at the Boston Consulting Group, where her work focused on strategy, consumer audience research, and organizational development. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in history and literature, from Harvard College.

“Julia’s arrival as Executive Director has marked the beginning of a new era for the Walters, characterized by a rethinking of how to leverage its renowned collections and programs to achieve even greater impact,” said Burgin. “I look forward to working with the museum’s exceptional leadership team, talented staff and committed Board of Trustees and volunteers.”

A native of Sacramento, California, Burgin lives in Baltimore with her husband and three children. She began her new position on May 9.

Until next month,


 Laura Rodini
 Executive Director, The Mount Vernon Cultural District

The Mount Vernon Cultural District Is
A Proud Partner of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and Visit Baltimore


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