MICA History

Rising to Meet the 20th Century

Historical Milestones (1879-1904)


Maryland Institute transforms the Great Hall into classrooms for the renamed Schools of Art and Design and adopts a new mission: “diffusing a knowledge of art … fostering original talent…and laying a permanent foundation for a genuine school of high art in Baltimore.” New facilities are modeled on those in the most advanced art and design schools of the time (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Museum & School of Industrial Arts, Franklin Institute, Philadelphia School of Design for Females, National Academy of Design, New York Art League, Cooper Union, Boston Museum of Fine Arts). All non-art offerings (chemistry, music) phased out.


Maryland Institute becomes leading advocate of art education, urges the Maryland State Legislature to mandate the teaching of drawing in public schools. Teacher training expanded and the first continuing education classes (Saturday School) for children and adults offered.


Otto Fuchs becomes Principal of the Schools of Art and Design. Under Fuchs and board president Joseph M. Cushing, who serve concurrently for nearly 20 years, the Maryland Institute grows into a first-rate art school, offering instruction in all branches of drawing, painting, designing and sculpture. Time-sketching and courses in life-drawing are introduced. Fourth year of study added along with the first post-graduate classes.


A set of 100 plates of Eadweard Muybridge’s “Animal Locomotion” is donated to the Institute’s library and exhibited there in 1888.


Maryland Institute becomes a collecting institution, with the goal of adding an art museum. More than 700 objects are collected including antique casts donated by the Peabody Institute; designs in stained glass, ceramics, and textiles; models of machinery and architecture; plus, an exceptional collection of Japanese, Chinese, and Zuni pottery.


Board members visit sister institutions in the Northeast and newly established art schools in the Midwest (Cincinnati, Chicago, Columbus, St. Louis) to research the latest methods of study and promote “the interchange of views and experiences in Art Education.” Otto Fuchs travels to Berlin, Paris, and London to visit schools and to gather artwork for the museum. William T. Walters opens his famous private art collection to Maryland Institute students, an annual tradition carried on by his son and former Institute board member, Henry Walters until The Walters Art Gallery opens to the public in 1909.


Alumni Association established; the first reunion is held January 1896, followed by life drawing classes which inaugurated the Alumni Studio Night tradition that continues to this day.

Learn more about MICA's Alumni Association


Rinehart School of Sculpture established—the first graduate-level art program of its kind in America—through a bequest from sculptor and former student William Henry Rinehart, administered by trustees of the Peabody Institute. First class included Edward Berge, J. Maxwell Miller, Hans Schuler, Grace Rinehart (niece of the founder), Mabel Carpenter, Helen Warner and Rachel Marshall (Hawks). Mount Royal Station opens as the flagship station for B&O’s Royal Blue Line and will later become part of MICA's campus.

Learn more about MICA's Rinehart School of Sculpture


Municipal Art Society of Baltimore established to beautify the City’s public buildings, streets, and open spaces.


Enrollment passes 1000 students.


The Great Baltimore Fire destroys the Center Market building on February 7, along with 1,500 other structures. Classes resume in temporary quarters above two other city markets (Richmond and Hollins). Local businesses, the Alumni Association, and faculty offer aid and supplies. Preparation begins to rebuild a campus on two sites: land donated by Michael Jenkins for the School of Art and Design next to Bolton Hill's Corpus Christi Church, and a new market building funded by the city on the old site, offering the upper stories for the use of the Maryland Institute's drafting programs.