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  • National AquariumNational Aquarium Baltimore, Maryland
    The National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland is located in the Inner Harbor area, that opened in 1981, and has a yearly attendance of over 1.6 million visitors to see the 16,500 specimens of 560 various species. Some of the more prominent exhibits include the rooftop rainforest, dolphin display, central ray pool and the multi-story shark tank; and is considered to be one of the finest aquariums in the nation. In 2006, Coastal Living magazine named it the top aquarium in the United States; and this one is not the same as the Washington, D.C. National Aquarium. This aquarium has been the main attraction in the state and city since 2006, and that same year won the award for the "Best Over Priced Destination for Families." The aquarium is made up of two buildings that are connected by a walkway/bridge, with the bigger building housing the main gallery that looks out over a pool full of sharks, with a blind zebra shark named Zoe, tarpon, green sea turtle, rays that include southern, butterfly, pelagic, roughtail, bullnose and cownose stingrays and more. The top of the building houses the rainforest with many animals that live in the Amazon Rainforest, with an elevated platform to showcase the monkey/bird views, a cave that has glass enclosures of amphibians, terrestrial arthopods and reptiles. After viewing that you go down a spiral staircase which leads you to the Atlantic Coral Reef with all the fish that you would find in a reef; and below that exhibit, you will see the shark exhibit with nurse sharks, sawfish, sand tiger sharks and sandbar sharks. In 1990, the smaller building opened with the marine mammal exhibit, and dolphinarium that has wonderful dolphin shows throughout the day.  In 2005, the aquarium finished an extensive restoration and addition that now showcases the Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit that is 64,500 square feet. Just inside this new addition, a 35 foot waterfall is seen which has been copied from a waterfall in one of the state's parks. With these new changes and more exhibits to see, the aquarium expects to have over 2 million visitors each year.

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  • Walters Art MuseumWalters Art Museum Baltimore, Maryland
    The Walters Art Museum is found in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland and was begun in 1934, with the bequesthment of William Thompson Walters and Henry Walters. William started collecting when he moved to Paris when the Civil War started, and then Henry refined the collection and moved it to a palazzo building on Charles Street that opened in 1909. When Henry passed on, he left the building and marvelous collection of over 22,000 artworks to the city to benefit the public. This magnificent collection contains works of ancient Egypt, medieval ivories, illuminated manuscripts, Greek sculpture, Renaissance bronzes, Roman sarcophagi, old master and 19th century paintings, art deco jewelry, Chinese ceramics and bronzes. In 2000 the name was changed from the Walters Art Gallery to the Walters Art Museum to inform the public of its immense collection and prestige. This museum is where the Archimedes Palimpsest resides, on loan from its private owner for the spectral imaging studies and preservation. A palimpsest is a manuscript page that originated from either a book or scroll, that was scraped and then reused; with the Romans using wax coated tablets that could easily be scraped over and used again. The Archimedes palimpsest was a copy of the work of the ancient mathematician, engineer and physicist Archimedes of Syracuse, as well as other authors that was overwritten with religious text. Archimedes lived in the 3rd century B.C., but it wasn't until the 10th century that this work was uncovered and copied. The permanent collection contains ancient artworks from Egypt, Greece, Etruria, Nubia, the near east and Rome. Two spectacular 3000 pound statues of the Egyptian lion-headed goddess Sekhmet are included, the Walters mummy, Greek gold jewelry that has Greek bracelets from Olbia that existed on the shores of the Black Sea, alabaster reliefs from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II, the Praxitelean Satyr, numerous Roman portrait heads, a marble sarcophagi from tombs of important Calpurnian and Licinian families and a Roman bronze banquet couch. Henry Walters bought a 100 gold relics from the Chiriqui area in west Panama, which became the nucleus of a collection of ancient American art, and with numerous gifts and loans, the museum has added more works from South and Central America that include items from the Mesoamerican Aztec, Mayan and Olmec cultures; plus the works of Inca and Moche people that lived in east South America. The Asian collection contains many suits of armor and weapons, metalworks, Chinese and Japanese porcelains and lacquers. Highlights of this collection include 12th or 13th century Cambodian bronze of an 8 armed Avalokiteshvara, an exquisitely painted Ming Dynasty wine jar, and a T'ang Dynasty earthenware camel. It also has the oldest surviving Chinese lacquer and wood image of Buddha, from the late 6th century, and one of the biggest and best collections of Thai scrolls, bronze and banner paintings in the world.

January 11, 2011