Peale Museum

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Peale's Baltimore Museum
Rembrandt Peale Museum, 225 North Holliday Street (Baltimore, Independent City, Maryland).jpg
Peale Museum
Peale Museum is located in Baltimore
Peale Museum
Location 225 North Holliday Street, Baltimore, Maryland
Coordinates 39°17′30.89″N 76°36′38.28″W / 39.2919139°N 76.6106333°W / 39.2919139; -76.6106333Coordinates: 39°17′30.89″N 76°36′38.28″W / 39.2919139°N 76.6106333°W / 39.2919139; -76.6106333
Built 1814
Architect Rembrandt Peale
Architectural style Georgian
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 66000915
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL December 21, 1965[2]

The Peale Museum, also known as the Municipal Museum of Baltimore, was a museum of paintings and natural history, located in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. It occupied the first building in the Western Hemisphere to be designed and built as a museum.[3] The Peale Museum was created by Charles Willson Peale. The museum closed in 1997 and its collections were handed over to the Maryland Historical Society.[4] The building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.[2]


Charles Willson Peale received his inspiration for a public museum in 1783 while illustrating mastodon fossils belonging to Dr. John Morgan. Once he had conceived the idea for an American museum of natural history, Charles Peale opened a museum to the public in Philadelphia on July 18, 1786. In 1810, Peale retired from his work with the museum, leaving its management and responsibility to his sons. Later in 1814, a museum was established at 225 North Holliday Street between East Saratoga and Lexington Streets in Baltimore by Rembrandt Peale - the second son of Charles Willson Peale. It was then dubbed as "Peale's Baltimore Museum and Gallery of Fine Arts" and had the early exhibits including portraits of famous Americans (many by the founder) and the complete skeleton of a prehistoric mastodon exhumed by C.W. Peale in 1801.

In 1830, the museum was sold and the exhibits were moved to a space on Calvert Street. By 1830, the building became home to the Baltimore's first City Hall to 1875 when replaced by the current Baltimore City Hall one block south on Holliday between East Lexington and Fayette Streets. Later, Number 1 Colored Primary School and was rented out to a series of private businesses. By 1928, it had been repeatedly condemned and was in danger of demolition. With the inspiration of historians and journalists, the restoration of the old museum took place with an expense of $90,000. The building was renovated and rededicated in 1931 as the Municipal Museum of Baltimore. The Museum underwent a major two year renovation starting in 1978 and was reopened in 1981 as Peale Museum. In 1985, the Peale became part of the Baltimore City Life Museums system until its closure in 1997.

The entire Peale collection has been moved to the Maryland Historical Society, leaving the original building on North Holliday vacant.

As of April 2014, a campaign was being waged by a Maryland group to raise $4 million for restoration of the museum, according to The Baltimore Sun. The building is located between Zion Lutheran Church and offices for The Real News.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ a b "Peale's Baltimore Museum". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  3. ^ Mendinghall, Joseph S. (February 28, 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination: Peale's Baltimore Museum". National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  4. ^ "Baltimore City Life Museum Photo Collection". Maryland Historical Society. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 

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