Erected in 1814 by Rembrandt Peale, the Peale Center in Baltimore was the first structure in the U.S. specifically built to house a museum. An artist, explorer, inventor and businessman, Peale designed his museum to include a gallery, natural history exhibit and unusual artifacts reflecting his many interests.
Peale shared his family's talent for innovation and demonstrated gas lights in the gallery. A new technology for the time period, people would stand on the street and marvel at the brightness coming from the museum windows.
Throughout the years, the building served the community in different capacities, including a school and city hall. Now, after being vacant for 20 years, the Peale Center has returned to Baltimore's arts scene as a center for Baltimore stories. Working with local storytellers, performers, artists, architects, historians, students, educators and others, the Peale Center produces and shares narratives of the city, its places and people.
In the innovative spirit of founder Peale, the center is being reinvented for the 21st century. In 2017, the city and The Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture, the nonprofit organization that manages the center, secured $2.5 million to renovate the building's exterior, including gable, hip and shed roof systems, and hired Ruff Roofers Inc., Baltimore.