By Kelly Medinger
The Star Spangled Banner Flag House uses arts and humanities grant to showcase Baltimore’s role in our nation’s history
Sometimes we forget the importance that Baltimore plays in this nation’s history… and sometimes we can forget the role that museums, like the Star Spangled Banner Flag House, play in reminding us of this history.
A Journey Back in Time
Touring the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House is like taking a 200-year journey through time and back again. On the Flag House’s campus in downtown Baltimore sits both a home built in 1793 and a modern museum that opened in 2004. Together, these buildings tell the story of the American flag that Mary Pickersgill sewed, which inspired the poem that became our National Anthem.
“Flags were a very important means of communication,” explains the museum’s docent. “They would signal everything from a company name, to a ship’s cargo, to a country’s land.” The American flag that Mary Pickersgill sewed came with special instructions: make a flag so large that the British could not miss it.
When it was finished, the flag measured 40 feet by 32 feet. Today, the Flag House’s campus contains a two-story Great Flag Window, which is the same size and design as the original.
Visiting the Flag House
Each year 12,000 visitors come to the Flag House to learn about domestic life in early America, the making of the Star-Spangled Banner, the War of 1812, and the writing of the National Anthem. More than half of these visitors are students from Baltimore City and Baltimore County. “In 2012, we saw a large uptick in the number of classes coming to the Flag House due to the bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812. Since then, our numbers have remained high,” shares Annelise Montone, Executive Director.
Over the past several years, the Knott Foundation has awarded the Flag House multiple discretionary grants to support the organization’s general operations and exhibits. The Foundation’s discretionary grant program provides awards between $500 and $2,500 and serves as a way for trustees to support organizations that most interest them – such as telling the story of Baltimore’s role in our nation’s great history to students and families who live here.
A New Exhibit
While telling a story that is 200 years old, the Flag House also has its eyes set on the future. On February 12, 2014, the birthday of Mary Pickersgill, a new permanent exhibit detailing Mary’s creation of the most famous flag in American history will open on campus. “It will be the first of its kind,” relays Montone. “There has never been a museum exhibit exclusively focused on this extremely important moment in history. We think it is high time there was.”