It’s “Johns”, Not “John” and It’s in Bawlmer, Hon!

My husband and I visited our old stomping grounds yesterday.  We went back to our original meeting place, where our almost forty-year-old dance began, the college founded by Johnny Hopkins, in the wonderful city of Baltimore.

The University indeed has an edifice complex like so many other institutions.  In the almost 40 years since we were there, it has grown by leaps and bounds.  Now they have a gorgeous entranceway to the campus, an eye-catching, Georgian-style Welcome Center, as if to announce “look at us now.”   I guess when one is in the business of recruiting and enrolling students who will pay $50,000 or $60,000 a year for the privilege to learn at Hopkins, one should damn well have as an inviting and showy gateway as possible.  At any rate, the school’s many other building projects over the last 40 years have all likewise been true to the founder’s vision of Georgian architecture.  I hope this loyalty to its original visual statement also holds true within their classrooms and laboratories to deliver a classic education.

On the grounds of Hopkins sits the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA).  I love this museum: its manageable size, its quiet yet magnificently wood-crafted galleries and its wonderful collections make the visitor’s experience very calming and conducive to art appreciation.  My favorite piece in the BMA is Vincent Van Gogh’s “Shoes.” Beside the fact that I have always been a shoe whore, there is something very down-to-earth and universal about this image.  During times of stress as a student at Hopkins, often I would walk over to the museum and just stare at this picture until I had things in perspective again.  It always worked.

A major collection in the BMA is the Cone Collection, represented by literally rooms full of gorgeous painting amassed and eventually donated by the sisters Claribel and Etta Cone.  Yes, they had the luxury of financial independence, but they also had great eyes for great art coupled with a deep civic and cultural purpose.  Good on ya’, girls!

Time marches forward and progress has its pros and cons.  I was a bit saddened to see that the BMA no longer uses its gorgeous, staired entrance any longer.  It is sort of like a mini Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY) template.  Instead, they now have a quieter Visitor’s Entrance to the side of the old one.  Of course, upon entering the museum, you are directly funnelled into the gift shop.  However, on the pro side of progress, the BMA now has a fantastic eatery called “Gertrude’s” and the food is to die for.

Here are some photos of my beautiful day in Bawlmer, Hon, with a nod to the past, an appreciation of the present and an anticipation of the future.

Gilman Hall, old but freshly renovated.

True to original plan.

Great place at which to learn and still good eye candy.

Aah ... were it only so that the tenets of academia also apply to our real lives!

Bettering the Da Vinci robot.

Ancient materials, modern design.

Progress: the Hop's welcoming fountain with the BMA newer wing in the background.

All in all, it was a good day to reminisce about what came before, but an even better chance to be thankful for the educational, cultural and romantic opportunities offered to me by my Bawlmer, Hon.

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