While my husband was on a week-long detachment to Baltimore, the kids and I drove up to be with him -- we visited some family and long-time friends, stopped by IKEA, and managed to squeeze in a visit to the fabulous (and free!) Walters Art Museum. Well, almost free. Parking was a nightmare, and I ended up paying $12 at a nearby lot just so we could stop circling the confusing one-way streets and actually get inside.
But it was well worth it! Don't be fooled by the "Art" part of the museum -- the Walters is a mix of historical artifacts, natural history, and (of course) art. We didn't see many paintings, focusing instead on a few exhibits (which is the only way to do it when you're wrangling three kids at a museum on your own). Our first stop brought us to medieval European pieces, including a 13th century stained glass window from a Parisian cathedral.
The building itself is lovely -- including this magnificent sculpture court:
But we didn't linger here, because we were on our way to the real destination -- the arms and armor exhibit!
I was quite astounded by the beauty of the objects on display -- there weren't many, but they were exceptionally beautiful. Like the inlay on this 15th century German piece (above), or the open work in the center of this sword (below):
Some of it was also just plain amusing -- Perhaps this helmet would look a little more intimidating on an actual person, complete with armor and weapons? No chance of a snack while wearing this. Though I can imagine the shape would be very helpful in deflecting sun, rain, and anything else that might try to get in your eyes...
Another shot of the sculpture court...
Adjacent to the armor was a room full of "wonders," in the form of interesting objects and various animals. On the other side I was pleased to find this little piece -- the littles and I have read the story of "St. George and the Dragon" a few times in The Children's Book of Virtues, and they were so excited to find a statue of the most dramatic scene:
I loved seeing what my children were drawn to (not surprisingly, it was not always what interested me!). For instance, Rosa was captivated by a 15th century German altar piece (The first 8 paintings on this page -- but they were on 2 panels, 4 paintings per panel). We talked about what we saw in the pictures -- Little man and Rosa noticed the blood, I noticed that all the people had very European features and 15th century clothing. And Laddie didn't seem to notice much of anything...*wink*
We moved on to ancient Egypt (they're obsessed with the stone sarcophagus at a museum a little closer to home, and the Walters had a real mummy!). We saw canoptic jars, numbers of statues, and this funeral mask, which Rosa commented "looks like Daddy." I don't know if he should be flattered or insulted...
Many of the Egyptian artifacts were 3,000 to 4,000 years old -- I've never really been that fascinated with ancient Egypt (I'm more of a medieval to mid-20th-century Europe kind of girl *wink*), but this exhibit was marvelous. We didn't have time for Ancient Rome and Greece, and I didn't even get a glimpse of the impressionist art. But when your one year old is getting vocal, the three year old has asked a dozen times if you're done yet, and even the five year old is showing signs of impatience, it's just time to go.
I'd love to make it back to the Walters (and stay a bit longer!), and we didn't have a chance to visit the National Aquarium. So maybe we'll make the trek back to Baltimore one of these days!