BNHA Peale Museum


Baltimore City Landmark

National Historic Landmark

Endangered Maryland

National Register of Historic Places

Interpretive Framework

Shaping a Monumental City: The City’s Growth in the 20th Century

Star Attractions

Heritage Walk

Resource Type

Points of Interest

225 N Holliday St

Baltimore, Maryland 21202

The first building in the Western hemisphere designed specifically to serve as a museum, Peale’s Baltimore Museum opened in 1814. Operated by Rembrandt Peale, sone of the world-famous portrait painter Charles Wilson Peale, the museum’s early exhibits included portraits of famous Americans, many painted by the Peale family. The museum also displayed a prehistoric mastodon skeleton and other scientific oddities to amuse visitors.

In June 1816, Peale amazed the public by lighting the entire building with burning gas. The feat led to the founding of the Gas Light Company of Baltimore, the first commercial gas utility in the nation and forerunner of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company.

In 1830, the museum was remodeled and house the seat of city government from 1830 to 1876. From 1878 to 1889 the building was used as the city’s Colored School No. 1. Municipal offices returned from 1889 to 1930.

The building served as the city’s municipal museum until the late 1990s. Underused for over a decade, the Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture reached an agreement with the city to restore the famous building and use the space for public meetings and programming. The Peale Museum was designated a city landmark in 1971 and also holds the designation of a National Historic Landmark.