This afternoon’s experience was weird to say the least. It began as I went to visit the American Visionary Art Museum, a museum dedicated solely to the art of undiscovered artists. I heard it was a real treasure of Baltimore and I was stoked to see it. It was way more than I expected it to be. Click on this thumbnail to the left to see the entryway in its full glory. It is made entirely of broken mirrors, and, yes, the bus is too, and also yes, that is a motorcycle statue above the doorway. On top of that, there is a tree made of mirror shards out front . How freakin’ cool is this place?! I walked up to the door filled with anticipation…
And, of course, it was closed on Mondays… Fail on my part.
Here’s where my day took an interesting turn. Baltimore is known as Edgar Allan Poe’s hangout back in the 1800’s. I didn’t think I had time to visit any of the Poe stuff here because it is kind of off the beaten path, but now I had the time. For a literature nerd such as myself, I thought the fates had lined up for me and took the closed museum as a sign that I should take the Poe tour. I called a cab and headed to Poe’s graveyard.
Poe is buried in Westminster Cemetery, which is this tiny place in a pretty populated part of Baltimore. We drove past it twice before the cabbie and I saw it. I hopped out, read some of the signage around Poe’s gravestone and snapped a pic. Fittingly, dead roses lie on his grave. I loved it! The cab driver told me I could walk to the Poe House and Museum and, sure enough, there was a sign across the street pointing to the house saying it was a half mile away. What I learned was never to trust a sign again…
After about 2 blocks, the signs stopped. I crossed Baltimore’s MLK, Jr. Drive into a neighborhood and quickly got lost. There were no more signs showing me the way. It became clear rather quickly that I was not in a good neighborhood. I kept going, though, thinking the best and that maybe I was just being paranoid, and I soon ran into a Baltimore police officer. His first words to me were, “What the hell are you doing here?” So much for being paranoid.
Here’s the thing. If you want to see Poe’s House in Baltimore make sure to:
What no one told me is that Poe’s House is in a very dangerous neighborhood. The officer told me he had pursuits in that block by 1pm. Thank God for that officer, by the way. He was awesomely nice. He even drove me in the squad car to Poe’s House so I could see it.
But I don’t want to sound like it was all bad. The Poe House seems to be really unique and worth checking out, if you plan ahead. The cop also told me about how great the city is. He said it gets a bad rap and could list of a number of places I should visit. Just be careful and if you go off the beaten path, like in every major city you visit, make sure you do your research. Just because it is a museum doesn’t mean that it’s a safe haven.