November 30, 2009

Celebrating the season with JHU Museums

Monthlong series of spirited holiday activities includes historic decoration, seasonal music, reading of Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol'

Catherine Rogers Arthur decorates a table in Homewood Museum’s drawing room, one of the Carroll family’s principal entertaining spaces. A hand-painted French porcelain coffee and chocolate service would likely have been used for holiday festivities. Photo: Will Kirk/

Catherine Rogers Arthur decorates a table in Homewood Museum’s drawing room, one of the Carroll family’s principal entertaining spaces. A hand-painted French porcelain coffee and chocolate service would likely have been used for holiday festivities. Photo: Will Kirk/

The winter holidays and the 19th century are inexorably entwined. To see the proof in the plum pudding, look no further than the animated retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday fable, A Christmas Carol, that swoops into theaters this month.

The holidays, in fact, often evoke antiquity: think candle-carrying chorales, nutcrackers, hand bells and trees decorated with homemade ornaments.

In celebration of holidays past, the Johns Hopkins University Museums will showcase the sights and sounds of the season with lavishly decorated period rooms, artfully trimmed trees, seasonal music by candlelight and other holiday activities, including a reading of the famous Dickens tale.

Catherine Rogers Arthur, director and curator of Homewood Museum, said that the landmark inspiration for the Homewood campus will once again feature decorations by the Homeland Garden Club throughout the museum’s 11 period rooms. The decorations will be in keeping with the early-19th-century time period, when the Carroll family lived there.

“Unfortunately, when we have kept the decorations period appropriate, visitors have been disappointed with how few there would have been in the Carrolls’ era. Instead, in honor of Charles Carroll’s penchant for excess, the garden club goes all out, although they do limit themselves to plant materials known and available in the period,” she said.

Arthur said that the holidays provide an opportunity to see Homewood in a new and different way. “The house and the 19th century come alive with the magical effect of music and decorations—the most beautiful time of year for a most beautiful house.”

Evergreen Museum & Library, the Gilded Age mansion and former home of the Garrett family at 4545 N. Charles St., will offer a broader depiction of the holidays, incorporating late-19th-century and contemporary design. The decorations include a giant tree handmade of paper and a festooned period sleigh.

As teaching museums of a world-renowned university, Homewood and Evergreen welcome members of the public year-round to experience their collections and special exhibitions, as well as to enjoy their tours, lectures and other programs.

Here is a full list of holiday events at Homewood and Evergreen. For museum hours, see

‘Season of Celebration’ Museum Tours

Saturday, Dec. 5, through Wednesday, Dec. 30, museum hours. Homewood Museum and Evergreen Museum & Library. $6; $5 seniors (65+) and AAA members; $3 students (13+ with ID), youth (6–12) and Johns Hopkins alumni and retirees; free for members, JHU faculty, staff and students (with valid ID) and children 5 and under. See two of Baltimore’s most beautiful historic houses decked out in their annual holiday best. Groups of 15 or more are invited to schedule museum tours with options for tea, box lunches and add-on tours at Mount Clare and/or Hampton National Historic Site. For information, contact Nancy Powers, 410-516-0341 or

Dollar Days Weekend

Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5 and 6, noon to 4 p.m. Homewood Museum and Evergreen Museum & Library. $1; free for members. Visitors to the JHU Museums are invited to enjoy holiday music and decorations, light refreshments, the museum shops and special $1 admission as part of Baltimore’s Downtown Dollar Days. Peabody Conservatory’s Brass Roots Quintet will perform at Homewood Museum from 1 to 2 p.m. on both days.

Double Discount Days

Saturday, Dec. 5, through Sunday, Dec. 13, museum hours. Evergreen and Homewood museum shops. Start your gift shopping right in the neighborhood. Holiday items are in stock, along with jewelry, decorative arts, textiles, educational items, paper goods and publications. JHU faculty, staff and students will receive 10 percent off with university ID. Members of JHU Museums receive 20 percent off, double their normal discount.

Homewood by Candlelight

Monday, Dec. 7, 5 to 7 p.m. Homewood Museum. $6; free for members. Decorated by the Homeland Garden Club with garlands and boxwoods for the holidays, Homewood exudes a festive spirit that is best witnessed at the museum’s annual Homewood by Candlelight open house. Glittering candlelight throughout makes the historic house appear as it might have in the early 19th century. Rooms will be set for entertaining, the reception hall will be filled with the sounds of early American music performed by renowned artist David Hildebrand, and the museum shop will offer a wide variety of holiday gifts for people of all ages. Eggnog and cookies will be served in the wine cellar.

JHU Press Holiday Book Signing and Madeira Tasting

Wednesday, Dec. 9, 5 to 7 p.m. Homewood Museum. Free. Celebrate the season, meet JHU Press authors and get a jump on holiday shopping at this annual Holiday Book Signing. Authors of the Press’ popular regional titles will be available to inscribe a selection of wonderful gift books, and the museum shop will be fully stocked with holiday selections. The event also features recent Press books written or edited by Johns Hopkins faculty members.

An Ever Green Evening

Thursday, Dec. 10, 6 to 8:30 p.m. Evergreen Museum & Library. $6; free for members and JHU students. Welcome the holiday season at Evergreen Museum & Library, bedecked with festive splendor and  trees artfully trimmed by some of Baltimore’s leading artisans, designers and architects, including an Aesthetic Movement dazzler by decorative arts authority Andrew Van Styn, a minimalist origami “nontree” by architect Jonathan McIntyre and a giant tree entirely handmade of paper created by George Rickles, owner of Swoon Creative Group. Participate in a silent auction of one-of-a-kind, professionally decorated children’s playhouses, and celebrate the opening of the second annual Johns Hopkins student photography show, Evergreen as Muse. Mulled cider and seasonal refreshments will warm all, a festooned period sleigh will serve as the perfect backdrop for your own photographic memories, and the museum shop will be filled with unique gifts.

Silhouettes for the Holidays

Saturday, Dec. 12, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Homewood Museum. $40 for two copies of each silhouette portrait; pre-paid reservations required (call 410-516-5589). Watch the magic scissors of Anne Leslie—a master portraitist in the tradition of the silhouette artists of the 18th and 19th centuries—as she creates a perfect gift for the holidays. Leslie, one of the few cut-paper artists still practicing in the mid-Atlantic, will create an image of your little ones to treasure forever. Sittings take approximately 15 minutes. Framing available at additional cost.

Make-and-Take Holiday

Card Workshop

Saturday, Dec. 12, 1 to 3 p.m. Evergreen Museum & Library. Free with museum admission by advance registration (call 410-516-0341). Open to all ages. Evergreen director-curator James Abbott will lead a workshop on the art and craft of card making in the Victorian era. In the spirit of the 19th-century fascination for souvenir albums and collage, participants will use an array of colorful papers, ribbons, fabrics and printed illustrations to create holiday and gift cards.

‘A Christmas Carol’ Reading

Saturday, Dec. 12, 3 to 4 p.m. Evergreen Museum & Library. Free with museum admission by advance registration (call 410-516-0341). Join Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the three Christmas ghosts in Evergreen’s atmospheric Bakst Theatre for a dramatic reading of Charles Dickens’ festive holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, by actors of the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, using a special performing edition prepared by Dickens for his own presentations. Open to all ages.

Come Home for the

Holidays Bus Tour

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 9:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tour begins and ends at Hampton National Historic Site, 535 Hampton Lane, Towson, Md. $55; $50 members of Homewood Museum, Evergreen Museum & Library, Mount Clare Museum House, Hampton Mansion and the Greater Baltimore History Alliance. Price includes roundtrip bus transportation and lunch. Advance, pre-paid reservations only (contact Abby Burch at 410-516-5589 or On this historic-house holiday tour, get a glimpse of how four of early Maryland’s most prominent families celebrated this special time of year. The day includes visits to Hampton Mansion (1790), Mount Clare Museum House (1760), Homewood Museum (1801) and Evergreen Museum & Library (1858), with lunch at the Mount Clare Stable and time for shopping in the museum shops.

Snowflake Tour of

Charles Village Homes

Sunday, Dec. 20, noon to 4 p.m., presented by the Charles Village Civic Association and the Village Learning Place. $15; $12 students. JHU’s Homewood Museum is proud to be one of the stops on the 2009 Snowflake Tour of Charles Village Homes, which will feature a wide array of vintage Charles Village houses, from small to large, all of them decorated for the holidays. A bonus is the inclusion of historic Seton High School, Saints Philips and James Church, Homewood Friends Meeting House, University Baptist Church and Homewood Museum, which will be decorated for the holidays circa 1800. Highlights of the residences include a Pastel Row “honeymoon house,” a luxury flat conversion, a banker’s mansion, park-front Edwardian grand dames and a one-time fraternity brought back from the brink of ruin and made into a This Old House feature. Refreshments will be served. Tour headquarters is the Village Learning Place, 2521 St. Paul St., which will hold its open house at the same time. Proceeds go to the VLP and neighborhood beautification. For more information, go to or e-mail