The Peale Wins 2024 Buildy Award

March 8, 2024
Historic Rehabilitation

The Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture (The Peale) brings new life to the first purpose-built museum in the Americas, both architecturally and organizationally. The Peale’s National Historic Landmark building was designed by architect Robert Carey Long, Sr. for artist Rembrandt Peale who operated the museum from 1814-1829. It then became Baltimore’s City Hall (1830-1875), one of its first public schools for African Americans (1878-1887), a mix of commercial and industrial uses (1888-1929) and more recently, Baltimore’s first municipal museum (1930-1997). When the city museum closed, its collection was transferred to the Maryland Historical Society and the building was abandoned for twenty years prior to the 2017 initiation of renovations for its current reincarnation. As Baltimore’s community museum, The Peale’s purpose is to record and present Baltimore stories through exhibitions, performances and events created by local artists and storytellers from Baltimore’s diverse communities. Additionally, it conducts a training and apprentice program for exhibition preparation and the historic preservation trades. It is managed by a shared leadership team and its programming is driven by Baltimore’s creative communities.

The Buildy Award Committee noted several factors that contributed to The Peale’s success:

  1. The involvement of the community in the development of the design and its programming and the impact The Peale is making with the community through programs, including the apprenticeship program for exhibition preparation and historic preservation trades that is unique for a museum.
  2. The remarkable and sustainable revitalization of a significant historic landmark.  The Committee noted the installation of an all-electric HVAC system and the gentle refurbishment of existing building fabric and finishes that is inherently sustainable and provides for a healthy interior environment.
  3. The beautiful rejuvenation of The Peale’s garden space and its extension into the adjacent alley. A new elevator fronting the alley provides accessibility to the building.

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