MICA History

A Fresh Start

Historical Milestones (1905-1960)


State of Maryland and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie provide funds for the construction of the Main Building atop Mount Royal Avenue. Daniel Coit Gilman, first president of The Johns Hopkins University, speaks at the laying of the cornerstone, November 22, 1905. Architects, chosen by national competition, were Pell & Corbett of New York; design receives New York American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal. Renaissance-inspired exterior is carved from Beaver Dam marble from nearby Cockeysville, Maryland (also used for the Washington Monuments in Baltimore and D.C.).


Main Building opens; interior houses the Day School, Free-hand Division of the Night School, Rinehart School of Sculpture, the library, gallery and exhibition rooms. Curriculum is expanded to include illustration and the first classes in anatomy and art history. Official dedication on November 23, 1908, attended by more than 1,500 people. The 2nd floor gallery is a first-class exhibition space for local and national artists in Baltimore, which still lacked a museum.


Decorative and applied arts experience a resurgence at the Institute with the entire ground floor of the Main Building dedicated to the study of pottery, metal working, wood carving, and textile design. Jewelry program begins.


Maryland Institute receives the world-class collection of 19th century French art acquired by the art dealer George A. Lucas (his father, Fielding Lucas, was a founder of MICA) and bequeathed to Henry Walters, who gives it to the Institute. Collection includes more than 100 Barye bronzes, 295 paintings, and 16,000 prints and etchings by such masters as Manet, Whistler, Corot, Daumier, Cassatt, and Pissarro. First exhibited to the public in 1911, items from the Lucas Collection were frequently lent to other institutions; in 1933 it was decided to transfer most of the collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art on indefinite loan, and the works are now part of the permanent collections of the BMA and Walters Art Museum.


Abstract paintings of alumnus, faculty member, and “pioneer modernist” Charles H. Walther, cause a stir when exhibited at the Peabody Institute in 1912 and 1914. His work also attracts the attention of Alfred J. Barr, director of the Museum of Modern Art, and art collector Duncan Phillips who purchases several paintings in 1923.


New York Armory Show marks the emergence of modern art movement in America.


New courses in advertising design, costume design, and interior decoration open the way for employment in the growing fields of commercial art and design. Summer School begun.


U.S. enters World War I, and more than 100 students and alumni enlist. Maryland Institute contributes to wartime relief efforts and holds poster exhibition to benefit the Red Cross under the direction of railroad heiress and arts patron Alice Garrett. Classes study methods of camouflage and design posters for Liberty Bonds. First courses in occupational therapy for disabled soldiers begin.


Roaring Twenties give rise to a more vibrant campus life. Student groups created in this decade include the Student Council, Out-of-Town Club, Institute Players, Omega Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Rho Tau (“A.R.T.”) Sorority, even an Athletic Club, which played basketball in the Main Building lecture hall!


Maryland Institute hosts an exhibition of work by Leon Baskt, noted Russian colorist and textile designer; Bakst is on campus the next year as a visiting lecturer. Other visiting artists of note from the decade include Leon Kroll and John Sloan, two of the leading realist painters in America at the time.


Paintings, lithographs, and bronzes by Henri Matisse, owned by sisters Claribel and Etta Cone (now part of the Cone Collection at the BMA), are exhibited at the Maryland Institute—the earliest known show of Matisse’s work in a public institution in the US.


100th anniversary: “Maryland” mural by A. Lee Woodward Zeigler (class of 1885) installed in the court of the Main Building to mark the Institute’s centennial with funds provided by the Municipal Art Society. University of Baltimore founded.


Hans Schuler, alumnus of the Night School (1891) and Rinehart (1899), heads the Maryland Institute School of Fine and Practical Arts (Mount Royal Avenue campus), from 1926 until his death in 1951. The first American sculptor to win a gold medal at the Paris Salon in 1901, Schuler was one of the most successful monument makers of his day.


First annual Fete of Lights costume ball held in the Main Building for the benefit of European traveling scholarships. A lavish affair, with themed decorations designed by students, the Fete was an integral part of the Institute’s and Baltimore’s social and creative life for thirty years. Alumni Association holds first annual exhibition.


Market Place school offers course in aeronautics with instruction in theory of flight, airplane operation, and design soon after Lindbergh’s solo flight across the Atlantic.


Municipal Art Society establishes Henry Walters European Traveling Scholarship at the Maryland Institute, the largest fund of its kind to provide students an opportunity to study abroad. The Society of Baltimore Independent Artists (SBIA) established, led by Maryland Institute instructor Charles Walther. The group’s modernist styles clashed with the classical realist tradition of the fine arts program under Schuler. (In contrast, the products of the design departments—at the cutting edge of contemporary tastes—were embraced by the Institute’s leadership.) Property on Lanvale Street behind the Main Building acquired and converted into MICA’s first independent painting and sculpture studios. Now housing administrative offices, the “Annex” has previously been home to Rinehart School of Sculpture, Maroger School of Painting, Hoffberger School of Painting, and the Department of Ceramics.


Three Rinehart School of Sculpture Graduates take nation’s top prizes in sculpture: William Marks Simpson ’28 (Prix De Rome, 1930); Henri Brenner ’32 (Chaloner Paris Prize, 1932); Reuben Kramer ‘34 (Prix de Rome, 1934).


Art Education department accredited by State of Maryland; first to offer BFA program. Teacher training continues to be a top priority.


Public Works of Art Program created by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Alumni who participated include Herman Maril ’28, whose work was selected for the White House by Mrs. Roosevelt, and Morris Louis ’32, who worked on a mural for the library of a local school. Walters Art Gallery (now Walters Art Museum) given to city.

Learn more about the Walters Art Museum


“An Art Commentary on Lynching,” a traveling exhibit arranged by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is brought to Baltimore by the Maryland Institute after a controversial debut in New York. Participating artists included Thomas Hart Benton, Reginald Marsh, and Isamu Noguchi. Costume department sponsors first annual Spring Fashion Show. In what quickly became one of the most highly anticipated events of the year, models paraded original student designs down the marble staircase in the Main Building.

Learn more about An Art Commentary on Lynching


Betty Fulton ’38, is featured on the cover of Life magazine in an issue about lifestyles of college students at the end of the Depression era.


“Maroger School” of painting established at Maryland Institute by French artist Jacques Maroger, former director of the Laboratory of the Louvre in Paris. The School becomes an important center for realism in painting during Maroger’s 19 years on the faculty. Students who adopt his methods, including Ann Didusch Schuler ’40 and Joe Sheppard ’53, breathe new life into the realist movement. Maroger’s legacy is carried on today by the Schuler School of Fine Art, established in 1959, by Ann Schuler and her husband, Hans Schuler, Jr. ’42.


Artists enlist to help on the home-front during World War II: 1.5 million copies of an alumni-designed poster printed to assist in the sale of Defense Bonds; other alumni initiate and produce posters for the Artists Civil Defense Project in Maryland. Drafting class, Market Place Building Drafting courses accelerated at Market Place school, with graduates in high demand due to wartime industrial expansion. Enrollment peaks at more than 1,800 students during WWII, but later drops off as the manufacturing sector declines.


Male enrollment at the Maryland Institute expands thanks to the G.I. Bill.


Maryland Institute becomes a charter member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), today the accrediting agency for college-level programs in art and design. Also receives full State accreditation: authority to award BFA degrees extended to include fine arts, general design, costume design and interior design. The degree program included general education courses provided through The Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College.


Margaret F. S. Glace, director of art education since 1937, becomes the first woman to hold the post of dean at an art school, when she is promoted to that position at the Maryland Institute; she oversees plans to implement degree courses for all programs of study, and initiates a graduate-level program, before becoming acting director in the late 1950s.


The first exhibitions featuring Abstract Expressionists at the Maryland Institute signal a broadening acceptance of new ideas and experimentation in the fine arts. However, many resisted this trend here and elsewhere.


Brown vs. Board of Education ruling leads to desegregation in Baltimore schools; Maryland Institute Board unanimously agrees to conform to Supreme Court decision. (Although Maryland Institute did accept black male students in the early 1890s, that practice came to an end as a result of public pressure further fueled by the 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson that upheld "separate but equal" facilities.)


First MFA degrees awarded.


First liberal arts courses offered in history and English. Foundation program established to provide uniform course of art and academic courses to all students. BFA course in Photography offered the next year (after having been revived in 1938 as part of the course in Design).


New name adopted: Maryland Institute, College of Art.


The Maryland Institute’s downtown branch closes in the early 1960s, and the Market Place building is razed in 1968 to make room for the Jones Falls Expressway. Campus is consolidated on Mount Royal Avenue.