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National Pinball Museum Relocates to Baltimore

The National Pinball Museum is coming to Baltimore. Fans of pinball and classic game machines will soon have the chance to explore the museum's offerings at the Inner Harbor.
First opened in a retail center location in DC's Georgetown, the National Pinball Museum has opted to move into a new, larger space at Power Plant Live. The National Pinball Museum's new location in a sprawling 12,000 square foot space will offer owner David Silverman the opportunity to fully develop his concept for the facility.
The museum will display snippets of Silverman's collection of  more than 900 pinball machines. Displays ranging from historic French bagatelle style games to more modern games based on popular pop culture properties will allow games enthusiasts to explore the history of the classic game. The new National Pinball Museum will feature two floors of action, including playable “pay to play” machines of many varieties, party rooms and educational programs.
Tiffani Huskey, Director of Operations, adds, “The welcome we’ve received from Baltimore has been overwhelming. We are honored to become part of a community that values the art, history, and pastime of pinball. We’re looking forward to building partnerships with local organizations and businesses to launch our Education and Community Outreach Program as soon as possible.”
The original Georgetown location of the National Pinball Museum opened in 2010 and cost approximately $300,000. The new museum location is expected to be significantly more expensive. The National Pinball museum drew more than 6,000 visitors in its 9 months of operation, a number that the museum hopes to exceed in Baltimore.

Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Tiffani Huskey,  National Pinball Museum

Contemporary Museum Designing Move to Charles Street

Baltimore’s Contemporary Museum is moving into a larger space on Charles Street that will give it more room to host exhibits.

The museum will move in January to 505 N. Charles St., the former Craig Flinner Gallery. The spot is one-third larger than its former Centre Street location next to the Walters Art Museum, which is expanding into this space.

The 5,000 square foot space will give it double the exhibit space of its old venue, Contemporary Museum Executive Director Sue Spaid says. It received $10,000 from Downtown Partnership of Baltimore's Operation: Storefront initiative that aims to fill vacant spots in the city.

Spaid says she likes the location because it is close to Mount Vernon attractions the George Peabody Library, the Baltimore Basilica and the park.

The museum has a $350,000 operating budget and eight-person staff, seven of whom work part-time. Its upcoming exhibits include a retrospective of environmental artist Patricia Johanson.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Sue Spaid, Contemporary Museum

Ripley's Museum "On the Right Track" for Summer Opening

City design officials could give the green light for a proposed Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum to open at Harborplace within the next month.

Ripley’s staff put forth a new proposal that reduces the size of their signage and puts the sea creature Chessie on the mall’s second-floor porch. The original plan was to put the 3-D Chessie on the roof, which met with resistance from the city’s Urban Design and Review Panel (UDARP) because it was not in keeping with the look of the downtown shopping center.

“They came in with a scheme that is more doable,” says Robert Quilter of Ripley’s. “It’s definitely on the right track. It’s much more respectful of Harborplace architecture. They’re definitely going to have a presence there," says Quilter, an architect in the city's planning department.

Ripley’s told BmoreMedia that it hopes to open the museum by summer to take advantage of the tourist season.

Known for displaying oddities like the world’s largest sushi roll, the world’s smallest car, and an engraved human skull, Ripley’s operates 31 museums in 18 North American cities. The locations include Atlantic City, San Francisco, San Antonio, and Ocean City, Maryland.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Bob Quilter, Baltimore City

Believe It or Not: Ripley's Design Plans "Too Aggressive" for Harborplace

A Baltimore City design panel has asked the planners of a proposed Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum to scale back their plans for the proposed attraction at Harborplace.

The Urban Design & Architectural Review Panel has deemed the layout for the proposed attraction “too aggressive,” says Robert Quilter, an architect with the city’s planning department.

The controversy stems from Ripley’s plan to affix the sea creature Chessie on the façade of the Light Street pavilion at Harborplace. If it were going in a standalone building, Chessie wouldn’t be a problem, Quilter says. But since it’s part of a larger complex, the design panel doesn’t want Ripley’s to upstage other tenants.

Ripley’s -- a museum known for displaying oddities like the world’s largest sushi roll, the world’s smallest car, and an engraved human skull -- has had its eye on Baltimore for years, spokesman Tim O’Brien says.

“Baltimore is a location we’d love to be in,” O’Brien says. “The attractions and vibrancy are just awesome.”

Ripley’s should know in the next month or so if it will open at Harborplace by summer.

“We’re working our way toward a happy ending,” O’Brien says. “At this point it’s not there yet. It’s not a done deal.”

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Robert Quilter, UDARP; Tim O'Brien, Ripley's

$9M Museum Honoring Black Athletes to Open in Druid Heights

Baltimore will get a new museum devoted to black athletes in the Northwest section of the city that officials hope will jumpstart the area's revitalization.

The Druid Heights Community Development Corp. is building the Negro Baseball Museum and Restaurant at 2101-11 Pennsylvania Ave., the site of the former jazz club that hosted legendary performers Billie Holiday and John Coltrane. The group hopes the museum will bring jobs and visitors to the neglected area.

The CDC will put out a bid in June for a construction firm and expects to begin building the museum later in the summer, says Roscoe Johnson, Druid Heights' director of real estate development. The Black Athletes and Lost Legends Association, a Baltimore nonprofit, will operate the museum and an adjacent caf�.

"Hopefully it will attract other businesses to the area," Johnson says. "It's very important that we do this right and it looks good."

Funding for the $9 million museum comes from the state, State Farm Insurance Cos., federal New Market Tax Credits, and foundations.
Baltimore's urban design panel gave final approval for the museum April 14. Druid Heights won the right to develop the project after the Baltimore Development Corp. sought out proposals to redevelop the former Sphinx Club.

The 14,000-square-foot museum and Negro League Caf� will create as many as 85 jobs, Johnson says.

The museum will focus on black athletes from Baltimore in a variety of sports, including boxing, football, basketball and baseball. It will also highlight black athletes who comprised the Negro League, the black baseball players who had their separate teams before the sport was integrated.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Roscoe Johnson, Druid Heights Community Development Corp.

Baltimore Museum of Art to Issue RFP for $24M Renovation

The Baltimore Museum of Art is now one step closer to beginning its $24 million capital renovation, the largest in its history.

The museum has narrowed its list of potential architectural firms for the project to five, spokesman Anne Mannix says. The museum received 11 requests for qualifications. It will now issue a request for proposal for the five firms, who will submit bids by early March.

After interviewing the firms and getting cost proposals, the BMA will select a firm by early May.

The firms on the shortlist are Ayers Saint Gross, Design Collective, Inc., GWWO, Inc./Architects, RTKL Associates Inc. and Ziger/Snead Architects LLP. All are based in Baltimore. Last month, the BMA appointed an architect selection committee comprised of Trustees and voted unanimously to award the project to an architect headquartered in Maryland.

The three-year capital renovation will enhance the galleries holding contemporary, American, and African art. It will also involve major infrastructure improvements, including two new roofs. Visitors will see the changes with an upgraded entrance, a new BMA shop, welcome desk, and coat check room.

The project will be funded in part by a $10 million multiyear commitment from the state and $2.5 million in bonds from Baltimore City.

Writer:Julekha Dash
Source: Anne Mannix, BMA

Wanted: Architect for Museum's African and American Collections

The Baltimore Museum of Art is looking for an architect to redesign its African and American art galleries as part of a $24 million, three-year renovation.

The museum issued a request for qualifications for architectural firms who want to be considered for the project. The BMA will select the winning proposal in April.

The selected firm will work with two different architectural styles. The work will include renovating the lobby, built in 1982, and the American wing, designed by John Russell Pope in 1929, BMA spokeswoman Anne Mannix says.

"I think I will be an interesting challenge."

 The renovation will also involve:
• Installing better lighting;
• Upgrading the visitor entrance, BMA shop, welcome desk, and coat check room;
• Revamping the work spaces and improving access to storage areas; and,
• Replacing the building automation system and other infrastructure improvements.

The BMA's $24 million capital renovation will be completed in 2014, the museum's 100th anniversary. It is the largest renovation in the museum's history.

Museum leaders will choose between four to six firms by late January for its shortlist. Technical proposals will be due in late February and interviews with finalists will be conducted in March.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Anne Mannix, Baltimore Museum of Art

Baltimore Museum of Art Upgrading Contemporary Wing as Part of $24 Million Renovation

The Baltimore Museum of Art will close its contemporary wing Jan. 16 to prepare for its three-year, $24 million capital renovation.

Fans of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and other modern artists will have to wait until spring 2012 to see the masterpieces again.

When it reopens, the West Wing for Contemporary Art will include a greater variety of media, from prints and photography to video.

The contemporary wing's rotunda will host exhibitions from an artist commissioned by the museum, BMA spokeswoman Anne Mannix says. A black box media gallery will showcase film, video, and digital art. Contemporary prints, drawings, and photos will be displayed in a dedicated gallery.

Baltimore's Marshall Craft Associates will complete the renovations to the contemporary wing. New York's Renfro Design Group, which has worked for the Morgan Library & Museum in New York and Grand Central Station Terminal, is designing the new lighting system.

The BMA's capital renovation will be completed in 2014, the museum's 100th anniversary. The renovation will include upgrades to visitor amenities, infrastructure improvements, and better displays of the museum's 90,000 works of art.

The project will be funded in part by a $10 million multi-year commitment from the state and $2.5 million in bonds from Baltimore City.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Anne Mannix, Baltimore Museum of Art

City Panel Approves $4.2M Design of New USS Constellation Visitor Center

It's been in the planning stages for 10 years. Now, it looks like this ship is almost ready to sail.

Baltimore City's Urban Design and Architecture Review Panel gave its final approval this month for a new Education and Heritage Center at the ship museum USS Constellation.

Now it just needs another $1.6 million in funding to open by spring 2012, Constellation Executive Director Christopher Rowsom says.  It's already gotten $2.6 million from federal, state and city government.

The new building will contain more extensive interpretative exhibits detailing what life was like on board the 19th century ship, Rowsom says.

Crafted by Museum Design Associates of Cambridge, Mass., the expanded exhibits will hopefully boost the city's cultural and heritage tourism promotions.

The exhibits will highlight the ship's role in fighting the African slave trade when it intercepted three slave ships from 1859 to 1861.

"Baltimore is a very historical place," Rowsom says. "We want to have everything interpreted and displayed properly."

Designed by W Architecture & Landscape Architecture of New York, the new wood-and-glass structure will be modern looking, Rowsom says.

At 12-feet high, the new visitors' center will be half the height of the current structure and won't block the view of other ships at the Inner Harbor, Rowsom says.

"It's not a very nice piece of architecture and it blocks the views of the ship," he says of the current education center.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Source: Christopher Rowsom, USS Constellation

Women's Heritage Center seeking $5M in funds for permanent space

Leaders at the Maryland Women's Heritage Center are scouting locations in Baltimore and Annapolis for a permanent home for its exhibits that highlight the Free State's leading ladies. The site pays homage to accomplished Maryland women in a Hall of Fame display. Featured women include biotech pioneer Claire Fraser-Liggett, Harriet Tubman, environmentalist and "Silent Spring" author Rachel Carson and jazz great Billie Holiday.

Center leaders expect to open a 25,000-square-foot center within two years, and need to raise $5 million to open a permanent building, Executive Director Jill Moss Greenberg says.  

The center opens its temporary home June 19 at 39 W. Lexington St. Located in the former Baltimore Gas & Electric Building, the initial space was donated by David Hillman, CEO of Southern Management Corporation. Greenberg says the board is looking at half a dozen sites in downtown Baltimore and is zeroing in on Baltimore and Annapolis with the hope that the locales can attract conference attendees and students on school trips.

The permanent location will host more interactive exhibits, a library, women's history archive, arts and crafts display, meeting space and gift shop with books and gifts made by Maryland women.

Center officials will launch a capital campaign this year."I know it's terrible timing because of the economy but we're at the point where we need to do so," she says.

The center has an operating budget of about $100,000 and gets its funding from the state, corporations, foundations and individuals. Entrance is free.

The Maryland Women's Heritage Center is an offshoot of the Maryland Women's History Project, collaboration between the Maryland Commission for Women and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Source: Jill Moss Greenberg, Maryland Women's Heritage Center
Writer: Julekha Dash

Fells Point frame shop relocates to accommodate a sweet new gig

What do you do when you score the exclusive rights to a major museum's photography collection? You get a bigger store, that's what.

It's the enviable position Kory Mitchell and Jennifer Moore, owners of Fells Point Frame and Design found themselves in this spring when they won the sole commercial right to fulfillment, distribution and publication of the Baltimore Museum of Industry's BG&E photographic collection, which spans the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. The gig requies considerable more room for printing processes, so the duo increased their space by roughly 40% last month by moving from the 1700 block of Thames Street to 1622 Thames, a building previously occupied by the running store 5K.

The BG&E collection is a Baltimorephile's dream. Among the more than 2,500 pictures are electric images of the city on fire in 1904, a 1944 skyline with Goodyear blimp above it, and the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower when it was still crowned by a giant bottle. It also contains charming regional shots of the Chesapeake Bay, crabbers, Pimlico during the running of the Preakness, and old industrial shots. Mitchell and Moore are able to reproduce any photo in the collection in various sizes and on various media, including canvas.

Fells Point Frame and Design continues to carry hundreds of posters (running the gamut of themes, from music to movies to fine art prints to celebrities), as well as an impressive collection of old world maps and vintage photography. It will enlarge customer's personal photographs, and it sells Moore's "Board Baltimore" line of wood-and-glass signs bearing clever sayings. It has also expanded its inventory to include the Space Craft clothing line and is running a diploma-framing special to beat any in town, Mitchell says.

"We pride ourselves on being Baltimore's most affordable custom framer," Mitchell says. "We make it easy to get stuff frame if you can't afford higher end materials. We fill that niche."

Mitchell, who opened his shop nearly ten year's ago in Canton's Broom Factory, is a Delaware native who made Baltimore home after attending Towson University. He says he's excited about the renaissance in the city.

"I'm a big believer," he says. "I'm seeing things get better. And we're excited to do the new things we're doing because we think they're going to be our engines of growth."

Writer: Lucy Ament
Source: Kory Mitchell, Fells Point Frame and Design
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