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The Maryland State Art Collection

Washington Resigning His Commission
Study of Three Heads after the 'Sabines'
Aubusson "Champetre" Tapestry

The Maryland Commission on Artistic Property is the official custodian of all valuable paintings and other decorative arts owned by or loaned to the state. The Commission provides for the acquisition, location, proper care, custody, restoration, display, interpretation and preservation of these paintings and decorative arts. It is a unit of the Maryland State Archives.

The state of Maryland is fortunate to have one of the most historic collections of state-owned art in the nation. It dates from 1774 when the portrait of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham was presented to the state by Charles Willson Peale. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, decorative arts and works on paper dating from the thirteenth century to the present. The collection is rich in portraiture of Maryland governors, legislators and first ladies. Many of these works of art are displayed in the Maryland State House, Government House, and other legislative buildings throughout the Annapolis complex.

In 1996, the collection grew extensively in size when the state acquired the Peabody Art Collection from the Peabody Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, thus adding an invaluable collection of American and European paintings, sculptures, and works on paper to the state’s ownership. Many of these objects are on loan for display at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland Center for History and Culture, Maryland Institute College of Art, Homewood Museum of the Johns Hopkins University, Walters Art Museum and the Peabody Institute.

New to the Collection

On the evening of Monday, February 10, 2020, at a Joint Session of the Maryland General Assembly, two new statues were dedicated in the Maryland State House. Statues of the most important Marylanders in American history: Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, have been in planning and production for the past three years. The installation of these bronze “forensic” statues will greatly enhance the visitor experience in the Maryland State House (a National Historic Landmark) by representing the lives of these two individuals, born enslaved in Maryland, who liberated themselves and became national leaders in the effort to abolish slavery in America.

Help Conserve Maryland's State-Owned Art Collection

Support the conservation of Maryland's endangered artistic treasures by contributing to the Friends of the Maryland State Archives. Currently, the Commission on Artistic Property receives no state funding for the care and conservation of the state-owned art collection.

The Friends of the Maryland State Archives is a non-profit group founded to support the outreach of the Maryland State Archives. The mission of the Friends is to further the goals of the Archives in acquiring, preserving and making accessible records, artistic property, and other items relating to the history of Maryland.

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© Copyright February 27, 2023 Maryland State Archives