BALTIMORE, Md. (March 10, 2021) – This month the Maryland Center for History and Culture is launching a project to conserve 100 rare and fragile flags in its collection, with a goal to raise $30,000 toward the effort. Over the next year, the flags—dating from the early 19th century to the early 20th century—will be cleaned, stabilized, digitized, and rehoused for future generations to enjoy.
On March 25—in celebration of Maryland Day, the state’s history holiday—MCHC will focus on raising $30,000 to support the flag conservation project during its third annual Maryland Day of Giving, but donations can be made anytime.
“We are very excited to celebrate Maryland Day by announcing this initiative to conserve our extraordinary flag collection—one of the gems of the museum’s holdings,” said Mark Letzer, President & CEO of the Maryland Center for History and Culture. “Every dollar raised will ensure the collection lives on to be studied and appreciated, long into the future.”
The flags in MCHC’s collection include American flags with varying numbers of stars; flags carried in battle, including the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and both World Wars; commemorative flags; and flags representing local militias from towns across Maryland.
“They are one-of-a-kind objects that possess a lot of stories,” said Harrison Van Waes, MCHC Associate Registrar. “Some of these flags were handmade by the women of the soldiers who went off to fight and were hand-painted in some cases. They survived battle and weather of all kinds. Some men lost their lives carrying these flags.”
MCHC received most of its donated flags over a period of about 100 years—from the time MCHC was founded in 1844, through WWII. The flags have been stored in the historic Enoch Pratt House on MCHC’s campus in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood. The flag conservation project will ensure they are properly rehoused in MCHC’s temperature-controlled textile storage. But first, the flags will travel to the Fashion Archives and Museum of Shippensburg University, where textile conservation experts will carefully clean, stabilize, and create archival housing for the flags before they are safely returned to Baltimore.
Highlights of some of the flags slated for conservation—pictured here—include: