A Brief History of the Hackerman House

Built for Dr. John Hanson Thomas, the great-grandson of John Hanson, President of the Continental Congress, The Hackerman House represented the height of elegance and convenience in the mid-nineteenth century.

Built for Dr. John Hanson Thomas, the great-grandson of John Hanson, President of the Continental Congress, The Hackerman House represented the height of elegance and convenience in the mid-nineteenth century. Renowned guests include the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and General Kossuth. In 1892, Mr. and Mrs. Francis M. Jencks purchased the home and remodeled it extensively under the direction of Charles A. Platt. The graceful circular staircase was widened and the oval Tiffany skylight installed in the coffered dome. The bow window in the dining room was added and the entire house was decorated in the Italian Renaissance style.

Following the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Jencks, the house was used as headquarters for various civic organizations and fell into a state of neglect and disrepair. Mr. Harry Leo Gladding purchased the building in 1963 and painstakingly restored it to its former elegance. Willard Hackerman purchased the building at 1 West Mount Vernon Place in the late 1980’s from the estate of its last owner, Harry Gladding. Mr. Hackerman was concerned with the possibility that the architectural anchor of Mount Vernon Place might be converted to commercial use. Story has it that he took the keys and placed them on the desk of then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer. In true Schaefer fashion, the Mayor held a contest to determine the best use of the historic structure. The Walters won the competition with a proposal to convert the house into galleries for its growing and important collection of Asian Art. Hackerman House opened in the spring of 1991. Mr. and Mrs. Hackerman have generously supported the Walters for many years and his firm, Whiting-Turner, has been the contractor for many of our additions and renovations. Over the years, he was a friend and mentor to our directors and Board members.

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Just for Easter

Photo: GV
Photo: GV

Most of the great art of the European Middle Ages was devoted to religion. As was much of Europe’s finest art for centuries thereafter.

Toward the middle of the 15th century the great Sienese painter Giovanni di Paolo captured Christ in the Decent from the Cross with a spiritual intensity matched only by Christ’s Resurrection, as captured in a bronze three centuries later by the famous Roman artist of the Baroque period, Gian  Lorenzo Bernini.

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There Must be a Better Way!

The Baltimore Museum of Art - photo: GV
The Baltimore Museum of Art - photo: GV

To support the arts in Baltimore City. High unemployment coupled with a dead real estate market and pension obligations skyrocketing out of control have left our new mayor with unprecedented financial challenges.

The BSO’s musicians have just agreed to a painful reduction in pay, and all cultural institutions in the City are facing cuts in public funding that will be very, very hard to absorb.

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Win a Prize? Guess how much…

These are 3000-lb, lion-headed godesses, 14th century BC,  from Thebes

WALTERS ANCIENT EGYPT GALLERY

The prize is a one-year membership in THE WALTERS ART MUSEUM, with all the substantial rights and benefits that accrue thereto.  Like free entry to museums all over the country, and discounts at local restaurants.  Plus, best of all, free admission to ticketed shows at the WAM, and to all its great programs. And, of course, our members help keep the Walters’ permanent collections free for the public!

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Object of the Week: A BIG Painting Re-Discovered

Installing a huge altarpiece by the Italian Renaissance artist Michele Coltellini

In 1912 Henry Walters bought a huge altarpiece by the Italian Renaissance artist Michele Coltellini signed and dated 1506 (http://art.thewalters.org/viewwoa.aspx?id=1627).  But because it was so grimy, so difficult to see and admire, it remained on a rack in deep storage for decades. 

For two full years, between 2003 and 2005, Coltellini’s dirty altarpiece was the sole project of a single Walters conservator named Gillian Cook.

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Friday from the Vault: The Nuremberg Torture Instruments

Henry Walters occasionally bought some very odd things. Probably the strangest of all was the collection of  “Nuremberg Castle Torture Instruments” – 625 items in all, including gallows hooks, iron masks, executioners’ swords, manacles, thumb-holders, whips, and pillories. The Nuremberg Torture Instruments

The most spectacular object in the collection was the “Celebrated Original Iron Maiden,” a (quote) “terror-inspiring” two-part wooden contraption fitted with iron spikes, which, when closed, would impale the occupant.

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