The Baltimore Museum of Industry sits on a 5-acre campus along the Maryland waterfront and is a celebration of all things related to the past, present, and future of Maryland’s industrial legacy. The museum’s location adjacent to a thriving port highlights its celebration of the common American worker, their entrepreneurial spirit, grit, and legacy of innovation. The permanent collection includes the main building itself, a fruit, vegetable, and oyster cannery built in 1865.
Visitors can walk through a replica 1920s-era garment loft, an ode to one of Baltimore’s oldest industries. A machine shop shows visitors where work was once done to conduct on-site repairs of machinery. A replica 1910 pharmacy re-creates a soda fountain and teaches visitors about the development of many of the pharmaceuticals we use today. A print shop showcases a working vintage printing press and a linotype machine. The Decker Gallery includes several artifacts related to the history of innovation and industry in Maryland, including the world’s first cordless electric drill. Among the more popular artifacts are the 1937 Mini Mariner, a flying prototype of a WWII boat bomber, built and restored in Baltimore. The Baltimore is a 1906 steam tug docked on the museum grounds. The Baltimore is a refurbished original and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1993. She is still operational and is kept in shape by a group of volunteers, who meet once monthly to do small repairs and upkeep. The museum is home to a large archive and library that maintains records and documents related to the history of industry in Baltimore. The research library hosts the historical collections of many local corporations, such as the Rustless Iron and Steel Corporation and the American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO). About 10,000 images from the Baltimore Gas and Electric archives are searchable online. The museum is also the official repository for archives and artifacts from the Bendix Radio Foundation, a nonprofit organization made up of past employees and friends of Bendix Radio, a Baltimore original now absorbed into the Raytheon Company.
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History: The Museum of Industry was founded in 1977 as a project of the mayor’s office to preserve the industrial history of downtown Baltimore. Then mayor William Donald Schaefer was instrumental in the founding of the museum as well as of the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the new Baltimore Convention Center. Much of the history is in the buildings themselves. The main building of the museum is the 1865 Platt and Company cannery, the only surviving cannery in Baltimore.
Ongoing Programs and Education: The museum offers a variety of educational programs and events all year round. The BMI Farmer’s Market happens each Saturday though the spring and fall and is in its ninth year. In addition to purchasing fruits and vegetables from local farmers, visitors can enjoy ready-to-eat baked goods and treats as well as artisan-crafted items and listen to live music. Independence Day celebrations include a fireworks show. The Distillery Showcase features tastings from 10 members of the Maryland Distiller’s Guild along with music and appetizers. The Working Animals event introduces visitors to working service animals and their handlers. Printmaking workshops with local artists make use of the museum’s vintage printing press and linotype. Talks with guest speakers include subjects such as history, architecture, and sociology and are frequently related to either the museum’s permanent collections or the temporary exhibits.
Daily and weekly programming includes tours of the museum, a Wee Workers program geared towards preschoolers, and a Weekend Workers program that offers children of all ages hands-on weekend activities.
The BMI has been host to the annual Industrialist of the Year award since 2004. The award is named for the late mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland William Donald Schaefer and is given each year to a visionary Baltimore area business leader who is distinguished by their innovation and dedication to the well-being of their community. The award presentation luncheon is one of the museum’s largest annual fundraisers. Monies raised go towards educational programming at the museum, which serves upwards of 80,000 children annually.
Past and Future Exhibits: In addition to the permanent collection, the museum hosts several rotating exhibits each year. Past exhibits have included Video Game Wizards, an immersive interactive exhibit in which visitors can create their own video games. A tribute to Helen Delich Bentley displayed select dresses from the permanent collection worn by the groundbreaking maritime reporter and congresswoman in the 1960s. REINVENTION: The Work of Chris Bathgate showcases the artist’s machined metal sculptures made from salvaged parts.
1415 Key Highway East, Baltimore, MD 21230, website, Phone: 410-727-4808
Back to: Baltimore, MD