What you're missing if you've never been to Evergreen

Image caption: The John Work Garrett Library at Evergreen Museum & Library

Credit: James T. VanRensselaer and Norman J. Barker

At one hillside estate in Baltimore, you'll find an original Picasso, the first Bible printed in North America, a bathroom plated in gold, and a painting by Zelda Fitzgerald.

You'll also find one of the largest private collections of Tiffany glass in the world, impressive holdings of Asian netsuke and porcelains, more than 30,000 rare books and manuscripts, and an elaborately stenciled indoor theater designed by Russian artist Léon Bakst.

All are housed in Johns Hopkins' historic Evergreen Museum & Library, an opulent 48-room mansion set on 28 lush acres on North Charles Street.

It's a must-see for any art or museum lover—but for Johns Hopkins faculty and staff, there are extra incentives to visit. Throughout the year, Evergreen—one of the university's two historic house museums (along with Homewood)—offers employee discounts along with a variety of events and programs of interest. Here's a rundown of what you should know.

Mark your calendar

  • July 14: The free Summer Evening at Evergreen event showcases three ongoing art exhibitions (including a solo infrared photography exhibit by Phyllis Arbesman Berger, an instructor in the university's Center for Visual Arts), a gallery talk, and a display of rare Shakespeare editions. Following that will be an under-the-stars dress rehearsal for the first of the summer's Shakespeare in the Meadow performances (see below). Bring a picnic—and your friends and family—to really enjoy the estate's grounds. The performance begins at 8 p.m. with a 7:30 preshow featuring contemporary music and other entertainment.

  • The popular Shakespeare in the Meadow series, presented by the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, takes place outdoors at Evergreen on July and August weekends. This season's plays are Twelfth Night and Julius Caesar. Tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets.

  • Oct. 4: Talk and reception with celebrated printmaker and etcher Peter Milton, whose Etching Enigmas exhibition is on display until then.

  • Oct. 29: The Paris-based Hermès Quartet performs in the Music at Evergreen series.

  • Other upcoming events will be posted on the JHU Museums' calendar.

Special discounts for Hopkins employees

  • Free admission for the 90-minute, docent-guided tours of Evergreen that take place on the hour Tuesday to Sunday. Just present your Hopkins ID.

  • Fifty percent discounts on full JHU Museums memberships, cutting costs to $35 for individuals and $62.50 for households. Membership secures discounted admission to events and programs, gift shop savings, and invitations to exclusive events and travel opportunities. It covers not only Evergreen but also Homewood Museum, the 1801 historic house for which the main campus was named.

  • Discounts on private-event rentals of Evergreen's Carriage House and other indoor and outdoor spaces. Full-time Hopkins faculty, staff, and students are eligible, along with alumni. For more information, visit Evergreen Events, email privateeventsoffice@jhu.edu, or call 443-840-9585.

Other opportunities of interest

A quick look at Evergreen's history

Back in its heyday in the late 1800s to mid-1900s, Evergreen was home to the Garretts, a prominent Maryland family that built its fortune on shipping, banking, and the B&O Railroad.

The 48-room mansion is particularly defined by the tenure of John Work Garrett, a career diplomat and ambassador to Italy who inherited Evergreen in the 1920s, along with his wife, Alice Warder Garrett. The home today appears much as it did when the couple lived and entertained there, with most of its original furnishings and personal touches intact.

Alice was a colorful personality with ambitious tastes who cultivated a diverse modern art collection (which includes a Degas, a Modigliani, and murals by Miguel Covarrubias) and steered creation of some of the home's most distinctive features, including the elaborate private theater designed by Russian artist Léon Bakst. Today it's the only surviving theater by Bakst, who was known for designing costumes and sets for the Ballets Russes in the early 1900s.

In 1942, John Work Garrett bequeathed Evergreen and its extensive library and Asian art collections to Johns Hopkins University, to which his family held strong ties, allowing that Alice could live there until her death. His will stipulated that the house "always be hospitably open to lovers of music, art, and beautiful things, and to qualified and competent students and investigators who could make use of its collections." When Alice died 10 years later, she left her fine arts collection to the Evergreen House Foundation that she had created.

Following an extensive renovation, the university formally opened the mansion to the public as a museum in 1990. Its indoor theater regularly hosts lectures and concerts, while the surrounding landscaped gardens and lawns make the estate a favorite outdoor wedding and event venue.

Find out more about Evergreen and its collections on its website.

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