Larger museums like The Walters and the Baltimore Museum of Art get a lot of attention, but there’s an impressive roster of unique museums in Baltimore covering a range of fascinating subjects. Learn more about immigration, transportation, industry, famous people, or teeth–yes, teeth!–at one of these niche museums.
Baltimore Immigration Museum
Located in the Immigration House built in 1904 for newly-arriving European immigrants, the Baltimore Immigration Museum documents the immigrant experience during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
During that time, over 1.5 million immigrants arrived at Baltimore’s port to begin their lives in America. Hear stories of Germans, Jews, Poles, Lithuanians, Asians, Latinos, African Americans, and more.
Baltimore Museum of Industry
Baltimore got its start as a blue-collar town and the Baltimore Museum of Industry documents that history in its waterfront building off Key Parkway.
Exhibits include a print shop, a 1910 pharmacy, a machine shop and forge, and a cannery, among others. Outside you’ll find the iconic Bethlehem Steel crane and the 1906 steam tug boat Baltimore.
Baltimore Streetcar Museum
Before cars and buses ruled the roads, Batimoreans traveled around town on a streetcar network. Learn more about these railway vehicles through exhibits, photographs, videos, and a collection of antique streetcars at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum.
Want to ride on a streetcar? Your admission ticket covers unlimited trips!
Irish Railroad Workers Museum
The 1840s Potato Famine brought thousands of Irish immigrants to Baltimore, including James and Sarah Feeney. At the Irish Railroad Workers Museum on Lemmon Street, explore the Feeney’s home, located in one of the rowhouses that housed poor Irish immigrants.
Many found work at the B&O Railroad across the street from their new homes and built prosperous new lives in America.
Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum
George Herman “Babe” Ruth took his first breath at 216 Emory Street in Baltimore, just two blocks from where the Orioles now play ball.
The following are included in the self-guided tour of the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum: the bedroom where Babe Ruth was born, an exhibit celebrating the Bambino’s accomplishments, a look at the slugger’s personal life, and memorabilia from his legendary career.
Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum
See the home where Poe wrote several of his legendary works at the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum. The circa 1835 home contains several Poe artifacts, including his writing desk and chair. You can also walk the same streets Poe once walked and visit his grave on this Poe Places tour.
National Museum of Dentistry
Proving that there is indeed a museum for everything, the Dr. Samuel D. Harris National Museum of Dentistry documents the history of the dental profession. Learn the origins of teeth, the importance of preventing tooth decay, and how dental treatment has changed from the Enlightenment to today.
Get a glimpse at how teeth have been represented in popular culture and discover how saliva, forensics, and bioengineering will affect dentistry in the future with the interactive “Your Spitting Image” exhibit.
American Visionary Arts Museum
When the building itself is covered with a mosaic of mirrors, you know you are going to see something special.
The American Visionary Arts Museum’s permanent collection includes Fifi the 15-foot Pink Poodle, a larger-than-life statue of Divine from Hairspray, and the Lusitania constructed from 193,000 toothpicks, and its temporary exhibitions feature compelling mixed media installations from a variety of innovative artists.
On view until September, Mega-Exhibition “If You Build It, They Will Come” allows you to explore handcrafted environments across the country using interactive touch-screen maps.
Star-Spangled Banner Flag House
All history-loving Baltimoreans know that Philadelphia and Betsy Ross can’t claim the Star-Spangled Banner – that honor belongs to Baltimore native Mary Pickersgill. Visit Mary’s circa 1793 home, now the Star Spangled Banner Flag House, and learn the full story of this unsung Baltimore heroine.
Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum
The Glenn L. Martin Company “built Baltimore bombers,” including B-26 Marauders and B-29 Superfortresses that helped fly the allies to World War II victory.
Today, visitors to the Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum in Middle River can see a variety of antique planes on the tarmac, learn more about African American aviators, marvel at rockets and the age of space exploration, and celebrate women’s war contributions with the Rosie the Riveter exhibit.
Fire Museum of Maryland
Over 40 pieces of fire apparatus are on display in Lutherville’s Fire Museum of Maryland, leading you through the history of urban fire fighting. A Fire Alarm Office joins displays of gear, memorabilia, and scale models of apparatus throughout history.
One of the museum’s most popular programs explores the Great Fire of Baltimore that destroyed more than 1,500 buildings in 1904; this year’s lecture is scheduled for February 4.
About the Author
Heidi Glatfelter Schlag is a marketer, history lover, and traveler who can often be found exploring museums, parks, small towns, and farms. She founded Culture-Link Communications, where she helps local nonprofits and small businesses build their brands. Heidi lives in Frederick, MD, with her husband and two dogs.