Nestled at the base of historic Federal Hill in the southside of Baltimore's beautiful Inner Harbor, the American Visionary Art Museum is a unique and exciting venue for receptions, meetings, and special events. Not only is the museum the national repository for the artworks created by self-taught artists, the building's architecture is an artistic creation unto itself -winning many international and national awards for its design and beauty. Our venue is easily accessible by foot (a 15 minute walk from the Convention Center) or by water transport (Water Taxi or Harbor Shuttle) and convenient to all of Baltimore's downtown attractions.
The German origin of the word "folk," or volk, suggests "of the people." The term "folk art" can be applied in the broadest sense: it's art of or by the people. At AVAM, we don't define visionary art as "folk art," or even "contemporary folk art," principally because organizations like the National Endowment for the Arts rightfully define folk art as art coming out of a specifically identifiable tradition. Folk art is "learned at the knee" and passed from generation to generation, or through established cultural community traditions, like Hopi Native Americans making Kachina dolls, sailors making macramé, and the Amish making hex signs. The "contemporary folk art" label isn't appropriate for AVAM either, since we like to show works created by self-taught artists who may have lived hundreds of years ago, alongside work that may have been created last year. The exhibition themes we choose to explore are, thus, innately timeless -with the power to inspire human beings in highly personal acts of creation. Unlike folk art, visionary art is entirely spontaneous and individualized.
We now have over 4,000 pieces in our collection! We intend to rotate exhibition of the best works in our Permanent Collection Gallery, located on Level 1 of our Main Building, opposite AVAM's Museum Shop, as well as throughout our other two buildings and garden space. Approximately 50 works will be on view at any one time in the Permanent Collection Gallery. This space also permits us to showcase some amazing works made available to AVAM on long-term loan. With the Permanent Collection Gallery, the Third Floor Gallery, Tall Sculpture Barn, and the 45,000 sq. foot Jim Rouse Visionary Center, AVAM can stay open during the five-week change periods between each of our annual thematic exhibitions (with a reduced admission fee of $8). Our Museum Shop, Sideshow, stays open to serve you, too. AVAM is dedicated to continuing production of all new mega-exhibitions. They provide an ideal forum for public exploration of all the grand themes that have always inspired human beings into acts of fresh, new creation. This system also lets us borrow the best art works to share with the public, and return them safely to be appreciated elsewhere. In this way, we can exhibit fabulous art, without the great expense of AVAM purchasing works that would only have to be eventually confined to dark, climatized storage while we mount new shows.