I left the apartment at 12:41pm, and rode the subway all the way to Shot Tower. I was heading to the Baltimore Flag House & Star
Spangled Banner Museum on Pratt St (just beyond the Office Depot).
I arrived at the museum shortly after 1:15pm, and I noticed a group of kids running around the courtyard separating the house from
the visitors center. I walked around the perimeter to the “main entrance” and into the visitor’s center itself. When I asked about tickets, the larger woman behind the counter looked at me as if I was from another planet.
“Can’t you see all these kids here,” she said. “It’s a school group. We cannot allow ‘individuals’ to tour the museum when there’s a school
group here…But, I can allow you to see our orientation film, which I won’t charge you for, but it’s starting now.”
She pointed to a set of double doors behind me, and I found a seat in the back row of the half-filled theater. The film, which was
one of those standard issue museum films with faded colors, grainy picture quality and really bad acting. The narration was top-notch.
The film ended and a pretty young docent probably in her late teens entered and began asking the 6-8yr-olds in the front of the theater
what they thought about the film. I go to exit the theater when the woman from the ticket counter stopped me, and started asking me all sorts of questions.
“Who are you? Where do you come from? What are you doing here?”
Hey, I thought I was the reporter here.
Anyway, I told her I was from The Baltimore Guardian, and I was doing a story about the museum in advance of Monday’s holiday.
“Weekdays are reserved for school groups,” she said in a forced-calm voice (so as to not disturb the kids). “Saturday is for individual and family admissions.”
“I understand that, but Saturday is-“
“I work here, you don’t,” she said grabbing my arm forcefully. “I know what days people can come here, and what days they
can’t – I’m the one that sells the tickets, and I cannot have you wandering around disrupting our tours.”
I thought she was going to drag me out of the building, but instead she let go of my arm and continued her lecture.
“My tour guides are far more important than you are, and they don’t like having unrelated people distracting them from their jobs.”
She goes on to say that as a city resident I am free to explore the museum anytime I want… as long as it’s not a weekday. But since
I was here, I could look around the gallery until the kids came out of the theater.
The entirely self-guided gallery tour started on the lower level of the glass fronted visitors center which has a series of wall
texts describing the destruction of DC and the Battle of Baltimore. They also have a variety of cases featuring your standard assortment of everyday items from sewing kits to soldiers’ weapons. The museum was also populated with a
series of mannequins dressed as American, British and Free Black soldiers of the period. Basically it’s, a miniaturized version of the Fort McHenry museum (without the boat ride).
The upper level was somewhat of a disappointment with only one small hallway with a four panel timeline of the both the flag and
the famous song it inspired. Inside the closed door at the top of the stairs was a long empty room that looked as if it was being prepped for something, but, for the moment, was only used as storage area with a collection of items shoved into the far corner.