Artistic Property and Public Outreach manages the State-owned art collections, traveling exhibits, and exhibits in the Annapolis government complex. It also supports the work of the Government House Trust, and the State House Trust. This includes management of all requests for use of the State House, and serving as liaison with the Department of General Services and the Maryland Historical Trust for maintenance and preservation of the State House, the most historically important building in Maryland.

[color image, Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of England, Studio of Anthony Van Dyck, 1632]


The Commission on Artistic Property is responsible for the care and management of all State-owned fine and decorative art objects that comprise the Annapolis and Peabody Art Collections. As the official custodian of the State’s art collections, the Commission manages and interprets State-owned fine and decorative art through its proper appraisal, conservation, research, and exhibition. This program creates exhibitions of the State-owned art collections and other archival materials.

Henrietta Maria, Queen Consort of England, Studio of Anthony Van Dyck, 1632 (MSA SC 1545-1100). Commission on Artistic Property, Maryland State Archives.

Art Collections Condition Survey. In 2001, the Commission also oversaw completion of comprehensive condition assessments of both the Annapolis and Peabody Art Collections. Conservators with expertise in furniture, painting, frame and decorative arts surveyed nearly all objects in the State's collections and completed reports on each object's condition and conservation needs. The conservators made recommendations regarding future care and storage needs. Their assessments will enable the Commission to prioritize conservation treatment for objects in each collection, and report to the General Assembly on future needs for their long-term care and conservation.

Annapolis Art Collection Condition Survey:

Peabody Art Collection Condition Survey:

The Commission on Artistic Property faces several major challenges in its mission to manage and exhibit the State-owned art collections:

Funding. The first is lack of funding for conservation and exhibition projects. Completed in fall 2001, the Art Collections Condition Survey has revealed that approximately 20% of the objects in the collection are in poor or critical condition and require immediate treatment. Many of these objects are on display and/or in use in Annapolis buildings. The annual budget for conservation is very small, and permits only treatment of objects that literally are falling apart. Historically significant objects are in danger of deterioriation without treatment. Although the Commission's mandate is to preserve these objects, this cannot be accomplished without additional support.

The Commission also lacks adequate funds to properly exhibit its collections of objects, even on a modest scale. There is very little money for preparing works for display, or designing and installing exhibitions, let alone producing documentation and brochures.

Storage Space. Proper storage space for the art collections has, in the last year and a half, become a major issue for the Commission. Until 2000, artwork that was not on display was either stored at the Archives (Room B4) or in one of the major institutions in Baltimore. In May 2000, Room B4 was determined to be too damp to continue to safely house the artwork, and the entire Annapolis collection that was not on display was moved to CDS Fine Art Services in Baltimore. At the same time, more and more of the Peabody Collection has been moved from Baltimore institutions to the care of the Archives, and these objects, too, now are housed at CDS. Although the storage is temperature and humidity controlled, the paintings should be hung on screens to ensure their long-term safety. Not only are the storage conditions a matter of concern, the cost of off-site storage is more than the Commission's entire annual budget for contractual services.


Public Outreach oversees exhibits in the Annapolis government complex, and traveling exhibits that tour Maryland. It also provides support for certain activities of the General Assembly.

Miller Senate Building Exhibits & Support for General Assembly. During 2001, the Commission on Artistic Property mounted a new exhibition featuring works from the State-owned Peabody Art Collection for the new Miller Senate Building in Annapolis. Entitled From Private Fortunes to Public Gifts: Treasures of the Peabody Art Collection of the Maryland State Archives, this exhibit helped open the Miller Senate Building in January 2001. It highlighted such significant Peabody Collection objects as Frances Blackwell Mayer's Annapolis in 1750, the first painting commissioned by the Peabody Institute; Charles Willson Peale's portrait of George Washington; and American Impressionist Childe Hassam's Snowstorm in Madison Square.

For the opening of the Miller Senate Building in Annapolis, January 9, 2001, the following work was completed:

Support for activities of the General Assembly in 2001 included:

[color photograph, Government House< Annapolis< Maryland]


In November 2001, an exhibition of works from the two State-owned art collections was installed in three public rooms of Government House. For the exhibit, a full-color brochure was written, designed, and produced.

Government House, Annapolis, Maryland, 1998. Photo by James Hefelfinger (Hefelfinger Collection, MSA SC 1885-761-8, Maryland State Archives).



State House Website. Another important project in 2001 was creation of a website for historical documentation about the State House. On this site - - all documentation and images relating to the State House from 1769 to the present have been assembled. The project is Phase I of an Historic Structure Report for the State House and is being conducted under a grant from the Maryland Historical Trust. Thousands of documents and images have been posted to the site by a project team of interns and archivists. In future phases of the Report, the website will become interactive, enabling all project participants to post their documents and findings.

State House, Annapolis, Maryland. Photo by James Hefelfinger
(Hefelfinger Collection, MSA SC 1885-763-1, Maryland State Archives)


© Maryland State Archives