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The Baltimore Museum of Art Library and Archives

About this collection

The Renaissance Room at the Baltimore Museum of Art was donated by Saidie A. May. The panelling and fireplace of the room were taken from a seventeenth century house in Shrewsbury, England. Mrs. May purchased it from the collection of William Randolph Hearst. The installation of the room into the museum was supervised by architect John Scarff and was designed according to Mrs. May's wish that it looked like a room designed and decorated by a man of the Jacobean age. It opened to the public on October 18th, 1940. The room was originally installed on the main floor of the museum with high, vaulted ceilings and exposed wooden beams. In 1963, it was moved to the third floor where it still remains today, and the design changed to include stained glass windows and a much lower ceiling.

The Renaissance Room Exhibition collection contains photographs, correspondence, and press. It includes, for example, a letter from Mrs. May to Gertrude Rosenthal in 1938 questioning the price she is being charged for installing the room in the museum. After much wrangling over the cost of installing the room, Mrs. May settled for the estimated $8,604.13 by John H. Scarff. The photographs include views of the room in the New York warehouse for the William Randolph Hearst sale as well as the first installation of the room in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

 
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