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The Baltimore Museum of Art announced on Tuesday that it has been promised $3 million — the third largest individual gift in its history — from two long-time supporters to pay some costs of its new center for education and creativity.

The Patricia and Mark Joseph Education Center, named after the donors, will open Sunday. The new center will culminate the final phase in the museum's multiyear, $28 million renovation project.

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When Doreen Bolger stood atop a flight of limestone stairs last fall and unbolted the long-closed historic entrance to one of Baltimore's most venerable arts institutions, she threw open the doors to the museum in more ways than one.

It was a gesture that symbolized her dynamic tenure at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where Bolger worked to make the institution she loved more accessible to the public. Bolger, 66, announced Wednesday that she'll retire on June 30 after 17 years as the museum director.

"It's important to know when the time's right to make a change," Bolger said.

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The Baltimore Museum of Art today announced it recently added René Magritte’s 1967 sculpture "Delusions of Grandeur" to its renowned collection of modern art. This monumental bronze was created by the Belgian artist during the last year of his life and there are very few casts. The work came to the BMA as a gift of National Trustee Sylvia de Cuevas and is the first sculpture by Magritte to enter the collection. It will be displayed, beginning this week, in a gallery with works by Magritte’s contemporaries: Max Ernst, Alberto Giacometti, André Masson, and Joan Miró.

“We are thrilled to welcome this remarkable sculpture into the BMA’s celebrated collection of modern art,” said BMA Director Doreen Bolger. “This imaginative artwork so well represents Magritte’s unique vision and is sure to become one of the most memorable artworks on view here.”

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In conjunction with the grand opening of the renovated American Wing, the Baltimore Museum of Art presents "Lessons Learned: American Schoolgirl Embroideries" on view through May 2015. The exhibition features more than 20 samplers and silk embroideries made by American girls who attended schools in Maryland and other states along the East Coast during the 18th and 19th centuries. From opulent to understated, the works provide a fascinating glimpse into early American life.

“The samplers and embroideries on view in 'Lessons Learned' were once displayed by families as showpieces to advertise their daughters’ accomplishments,” said Curator of Textiles Anita Jones. “In working with a needle and thread, these young women learned a skill, diligence, patience, and obedience.”

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From Philadelphia soup tureens made by German immigrants to a sweeping American landscape painted in Italy, there’s a surprising twist to the newly renovated American Wing of the Baltimore Museum of Art: many of the objects have an international accent.

The museum is already well known around the world for its 500-piece Henri Matisse collection and other European masterworks. Now curators in its new American Wing have reframed its pieces to underscore how U.S. artists continually exchanged ideas and styles with their counterparts abroad. The museum spent two years and $7.9 million renovating the 15,000-square-foot wing, which opens Sunday.

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The Baltimore Museum of Art is hitting the road.

Special pieces are barnstorming a few Baltimore neighborhoods, making some works accessible to all and giving people the opportunity to be the patron and the artist.

"You don't usually see a small museum in a neighborhood. You usually have to drive to the museum, so it's like a sneak attack," said Katie Bachler, the BMA's Meadows education fellow.

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The master framers of Eli Wilner & Company recently completed two hand-carved and gilded, openwork Rococo-style frames for a pair of portraits by John Singleton Copley at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

The existing frames on the portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Hooper were in presentable condition, but were not historically appropriate, leading the museum’s curators to seek a solution from Eli Wilner & Company. Copley was known to have selected a specific style of frame for paintings done at the time these portraits were painted.

Though finding antique frames for the paintings would have been the optimal choice, the chances of locating a pair of frames in the appropriate sizes and within budget was a near impossibility.

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Earlier this year, a judge ordered that a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir be returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art. The work, which had been purchased in 2009 at a Virginia flea market, was stolen from the museum in 1951.

Martha Fuqua, the woman who made the seven-dollar flea market purchase, argued that she deserved to hold on to “On the Shore of the Seine,” a small landscape painting, because she was unaware that it had been stolen when she purchased it. Fuqua attempted to sell the work at auction for $100,000, but it was confiscated by the FBI after it was revealed that the painting belonged to the museum.

“On the Shore of the Seine” will be on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art from March 30 through July 20.  

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A judge has ordered that a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir that was allegedly purchased at a flea market for $7 in 2009, be returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art. The museum filed papers in federal court last year arguing that the work legally belonged to the institution and had been stolen while on view there in 1951. 

Martha Fuqua, who had purchased the painting at a Virginia flea market, claimed that she deserved to hold on to ‘On the Shore of the Seine’ (1879), a small landscape painting, because she was unaware that it had been stolen. The FBI seized the work in 2012 from an auction gallery. Fuqua had hoped to sell the unsigned work for as much as $100,000.

The Baltimore Museum of Art released a statement saying, “We look forward to celebrating the painting’s homecoming with a special installation in the galleries in late March.”

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After being closed for over 30 years, the Baltimore Museum of Art will reopen its historic Merrick Entrance beginning on November 23, 2014, in honor of the institution’s 100th anniversary. The event also marks the reopening of the renovated Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing and a new presentation of the Baltimore Museum’s collection of American fine and decorative arts. A redesigned East Wing Lobby and Zamoiski Entrance will reopen in fall 2014.

The upcoming openings are part of the Baltimore Museum’s multi-year, $28 million renovation. The final phase of the project is expected to reach completion with the reinstallation of the African and Asian art collections and the opening of a new center for learning and creativity in 2015.

Doreen Bolger, the museum’s Director, said, “The reopening of the BMA’s historic Merrick Entrance and the Dorothy McIlvain Scott American Wing will be an extraordinary moment in the museum’s distinguished history—bringing together museum-goers of all ages to experience John Russell Pope’s first vision of a great public art museum. We are looking forward to celebrating the BMA’s 100th anniversary with many new and exciting experiences for our visitors.”

The Baltimore Museum’s Merrick Entrance, which was designed by the American architect John Russell Pope, welcomed generations of visitors into the museum from 1929 to 1982. The entrance’s facade is being conserved and will have improved lighting. The existing doors and vestibule will remain unchanged. A $1 million gift from the France-Merrick Foundation is supporting this portion of the renovation.

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