BNHA About Us

OUR MISSION: Promoting, preserving, and enhancing Baltimore's historic and cultural legacy and natural resources for current and future generations

Content about About Us

Baltimore’s concentration of historic, cultural, and natural resources makes the city a truly unique place. The city has been witness to events that have dramatically altered the course of the nation’s history. Over the centuries it has also been witness to more subtle changes in the way Americans work, play, and live. With heritage area designation, both the state of Maryland and the U.S. Congress have acknowledged Baltimore for its capacity to tell these important stories.

What is a heritage area?

Heritage areas are regions where historic structures, landscapes, cultural traditions, and other resources (such as parks and museums) work together to tell patterns of history unique to the location.

The Baltimore National Heritage Area (BNHA) is one of 13 certified heritage areas in Maryland and one of 49 Congressionally designated national heritage areas across the country.

BNHA works to accomplish its mission through a variety of products and programs, including hosting guided walking tours, developing new heritage tourism products, and providing grants that encourage tourism and historic preservation.

Where do we invest?

Heritage areas do not own the cultural heritage stories and assets that belong to the diverse communities within their boundaries. Rather, we engage these communities in finding, saving, telling, experiencing, and sharing their own cultural heritage stories and assets. Creating opportunities for residents to share their authentic cultural heritage stories is a critical aspect of the work that we do on behalf of our communities. Working with diverse local and national partners, we have been at the forefront of empowering and engaging authentic community voices towards promoting greater understanding of ongoing DEI issues locally.  Our approach involves building trust with residents who often feel that their communities have been unheard and overlooked historically. While DEI cultural heritage development is complex and challenging work, it is necessary work.

All BNHA grants from the last five years are now mapped digitally on our website with interactive map features for the public. This tool will help BNHA to assess geographic equity of past grant investments throughout the Heritage Area and help focus our future outreach on new areas previously not funded. Applicants and external partners can now see what organizations are funded by BNHA and the diverse breadth of projects that advance heritage tourism for our City. Click the map graphic below.

Originally a department under the Office of the Mayor, the Baltimore National Heritage Area (BNHA) is now managed through the non-profit Baltimore Heritage Area Association, Inc. The association maintains strong partnerships with the city of Baltimore and Visit Baltimore (the city's convention and visitors bureau). The association's board of directors supervises the management of the heritage area. An advisory committee, comprised of civic and community leaders, provides guidance and support.

With state heritage area designation, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority provides technical, planning and limited financial assistance in promoting tourism development, economic growth, preservation, and conservation. With federal designation, the Baltimore National Heritage Area also receives technical, planning, and limited financial assistance from the National Park Service.

For an in-depth look at the heritage area's programs and activities, check out our Year In Review publications.