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Municipal Art Society records

Identifier: MS 2840


The Municipal Art Society Records spans 1905-1949, and includes the papers, record books, minute books, correspondence,​and scrapbooks of the Municipal Art Society and the Friends of Art, two arts organizations in the city of Baltimore.


  • 1905-1949
  • Majority of material found within 1932-1942


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

This collection contains the papers of both the Municipal Art Society and the Friends of Art, an organization that merged with the Municipal Art Society in 1932. Both organizations were concerned with the encouragement of the arts in the city of Baltimore, whether through city planning or encouraging local artists.

The Friends of Art was founded in 1919, and the group was officially incorporated in 1921. The first president was Dr. Hugh Hampton Young. In 1921 Mrs. John W. Garrett was elected honorary president, and Dr. William Thayer president. In addition, Miss Adaline Piper acted as corresponding secretary, Anne G. Turnbull as treasurer, and Robert E. Lee Taylor as one of the vice-presidents. Their original headquarters were on an upper floor of the Baltimore Museum of Art, then located at Mount Vernon Place. However, by 1926 the Friends of Art had purchased their own house at 8 E. Pleasant Street. This organization was supportive of the Baltimore Museum of Art, donating works of art to the new museum. Besides their cooperation with the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Friends of Art wished to stimulate an interest in art in the city of Baltimore, to encourage an appreciation for modern art, and to arrange for the exhibition, loan, or donation of all kinds of art in the city. They sponsored lectures, hosted touring entertainers, and arranged one-man shows of area artists.

The Municipal Art Society was founded in January 1899 by a number of prominent Baltimore citizens who had an interest in art, park development, and city planning. The first president of the Municipal Art Society was Daniel C. Gilman, and the first board of directors included Josias Pennington and John W. Garrett. The Municipal Art Society had no headquarters. Therefore, lectures were held at Hollins Market Hall, Cross St. Market Hall, Broadway Institute, as well as McCoy Hall of Johns Hopkins University. The board of directors often gathered for meetings at members' homes such as Theodore Marburg's at 14 W. Mount Vernon Place. Interested in the development of a park system for the city, the Municipal Art Society called upon Frederick Law Olmsted as a consultant on certain occasions. This organization also invested its effort and money in the placement of works of art in public places such as schools, government buildings, and parks.

In 1932, the Friends of Art merged with the Municipal Art Society. After much discussion concerning what to name the new organization, “Municipal Art Society” was chosen, with the address of their headquarters being “Friends of Art House.” This new Municipal Art Society worked successfully for a number of years, holding regular exhibits of both local artists' work and traveling exhibitions. Lectures were organized, as well as various special events. With World War II came a drop in members' attention to the Municipal Art Society. After the war, attempts were made to rejuvenate the Municipal Art Society, including the lowering of annual dues, to attract new members. Board members tried to redefine the goals and usefulness of the organization, but did not succeed. By 1947, works of art owned by the Municipal Art Society had been offered to the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Friends of Art House was being sold.


7.3 Linear Feet (18 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Municipal Art Society of Baltimore records is divided into twelve series. Except when noted, Friends of Art papers have been separated from those of the Municipal Art Society, and organized as their own series. Arrangement is generally chronological, with undated items first.

Series I: Friends of Art (F of A), 1919-1942

3 1/2 boxes

Papers cover the various activities of the Friends of Art, from its organization in 1919 up to its merger with the Municipal Art Society. The bulk of this series falls within the years 1919-1931. Documents are arranged in folders by subject. Included are receipts, correspondence, notes, minutes, and legal papers. Papers concerning the purchase and maintenance of the Friends of Art House are found in series III. Items of note are the original certificate of incorporation and the minutes of the founding meetings.

Series II: Municipal Art Society pre-Merger, 1905-1919

1/2 box

This series consists of two volumes compiled by members of the Municipal Art Society in the years before merging with the Friends of Art. A scrapbook contains newspaper clippings which refer to the proposed Howard Street Extension. A letterpress book is a record of correspondence and minutes of meetings of the Municipal Art Society. Major figures include Josias Pennington, Frederick Law Olmsted, Hans Schuler, Theodore Marburg, Robert Garrett, R. Brent Keyser, and S. Davies Warfield. Topics covered in the correspondence and meetings surround civic improvements, public sculpture, and park development.

Series III: Friends of Art House, 1923-1946

3 boxes

Different subjects concerning the headquarters of the Friends of Art, and later the Municipal Art Society, are covered in this series, which is arranged by subject. Details on the purchase of this house at 8 East Pleasant Street and improvements made over the years, as well as a full inventory of the contents of the house are included. This series contains all papers concerning the house, both from the Friends of Art (premerger) and Municipal Art Society (postmerger).

Series IV: Merger, 1931-1932

1/2 box

This series contains notes, minutes, correspondence and legal papers concerning the 1932 merger of the Friends of Art and the Municipal Art Society. Included are papers from Friends of Art meetings discussing the proposed merger, as well as official documents approving the step.

Series V: Governance, 1927-1949

1/2 box

This series contains papers concerning the various aspects of the organization and running of Municipal Art Society. Correspondence of executive officers, publicity information, and details of meetings are included.

Series VI: Treasurer, 1932-1947

1 box

Correspondence, notes, and receipts of the Municipal Art Society treasurer William Casey are filed in this series. The bulk of this series falls within the years 1932-1940. Check stubs of the Maryland Trust Company and deposit receipts of the Colonial Trust Company are included.

Series VII: Membership, 1932-1948

1 box

Membership lists, notes, and correspondence concerning the Municipal Art Society's membership are found in this series. The bulk of the series falls within the years 1932-1940.

Series VIII: Exhibits, 1932-1943

2 1/2 boxes

These papers concern all exhibits organized by the Municipal Art Society, including an annual competitive exhibition held first at the F. of A. House and later at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Informational brochures and programs on other artists and other galleries' exhibits besides those of the Municipal Art Society are included.

Series IX: Lectures, 1930-1948

1 1/2 boxes

Contained in this series are ephemera and correspondence concerning lectures sponsored by the Municipal Art Society, as well as art classes taught by Richard Dicus at the F. of A. House. Papers concerning French lectures and the 1939 lecture by Thomas Mann are filed separately, but all other papers are in chronological order. Various printed folders advertising touring lecturers and their topics, and printed invitations to Municipal Art Society lectures are filed here. Copies of actual lectures are not included.

Series X: Special Events, 1932-1942

1 1/2 boxes

This series contains papers concerning special events and entertainments organized by the Municipal Art Society. Found here are notes, minutes, correspondence, promotional pamphlets of touring entertainers, and printed invitations to events. Grouped according to subject, these events include a lawn fete held at the estate of Robert Garrett, and numerous teas, luncheons, and card parties. Papers concerning lectures and exhibits are filed as separate series.

Series XI: Baltimore Works of Art, 1903-1948

6 folders

Correspondence, printed matter, and notes concerning specific paintings and sculptures around the city of Baltimore comprise this series. Papers of both the Friends of Art and the Municipal Art Society are filed here under the names of works of art that the organizations commissioned or in which they had an interest. Of particular note is an illustrated booklet of speeches given at the 1904 unveiling of Fremiet's “Howard” at Mt. Vernon.

Series XII: Miscellaneous Files, 1928-1949

2 boxes

This series is comprised of papers grouped according to various subjects which were important to the Municipal Art Society. Each subject has only a limited amount of material (three or fewer folders each), and the bulk of the material falls between the years 1932-1942. Subjects of note are lists of Baltimore artists, civic concerns of the Municipal Art Society, and the work of Frederick Law Olmsted.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mr. David Simon.

Scope and Contents

The Municipal Art Society Records are a collection of notes, correspondence, printed ephemera, and record books that fill 18 boxes. This collection contains the records of both the Municipal Art Society and the Friends of Art, which merged with the Municipal Art Society in 1932. MS. 2840 spans the years 1905-1949, although the bulk of the papers falls between the years 1932-1942.

MS. 2840 contains the minute books, correspondence, notes, and legal papers of the Friends of Art, from the founding meeting of 1919 to their merger with the Municipal Art Society. This organization was entirely separate from the Municipal Art Society prior to 1932. Therefore, their papers are filed as their own series, except in a limited number of cases. Series III (Friends of Art House), for example, contains all material concerning this house from its purchase by the Friends of Art, through the merger of the two organizations, to its sale in the late 1940's. Details are provided in Series Description.

The records of the premerger years of the Municipal Art Society (1899-1931) are limited. A record book covers the years 1908-1919 and contains letterpress copies of correspondence, minutes of meetings, project reports, and membership lists. This book provides the most information on the premerger Municipal Art Society.

The arrangement of the material after the 1932 merger focuses on different aspects of the organization's activities. Papers which relate to certain subjects have been put into chronological order and placed in series such as Membership, Exhibits, and Treasurer.

Guide to the Municipal Art Society records
Under Revision
Jessica M. Pigza
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2020-03-23: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States