Travel Tuesday: Local Edition

A blog post by Director of Collections and Exhibits Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Last week, I took advantage of the unseasonably warm October weather to do a little local tourism. I’ve worked in Baltimore for six years now, and there are still plenty of places I’ve not yet visited! So I decided to leave the museum early for the afternoon, and went to the Cylburn Arboretum.

The Cylburn Mansion, October 21, 2020. Photo by the author.

I brought a sketchbook and a snack, and basically just wandered around admiring flowers and foliage, trying out various benches and views. But, in the hopes of adding a thin veneer of work-related justification to my outing, I did have a secondary goal: to find the small memorial to Malcolm W. Lowenstein (1899-1973), installed at the Cylburn Mansion in the 1970s.

A photograph of the original sundial designed by Malcolm Lowenstein in 1944. Gift of Rita Jordy Lowenstein. JMM 1993.73.5

Using one of Mr. Lowenstein’s designs, his friends Perna Krick and Reuben Kramer sculpted a sundial in his honor featuring a happy Early Bird catching an unlucky Worm. An avid gardener, Lowenstein owned Malcolm’s House and Garden Store in Baltimore, and was a member of the Cylburn Wildflower Preserve and Garden Center, Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, the Horticultural Society of Maryland, the Maryland Daffodil Society, the Country Garden Club of Baltimore, Baltimore Chapter No. 118 of Ikebana International, and Beautiful Baltimore, Inc. A memorial at what was probably one of his favorite places in the city seems entirely appropriate.

A sundial in memory of Malcolm W. Lowenstein has been installed in the formal garden of Cylburn Mansion [now Arboretum]…. It was executed by Perna Krick and Reuben Kramer after the original design drawn by Mr. Lowenstein in 1944.  It was made possible through the generosity of his friends.

-From “Memorial Sundial in Cylburn Garden,” Baltimore Sun, Nov. 4, 1974

Color postcard of the sundial in the formal garden behind the Cylburn Mansion, circa 1980. Gift of Rita Jordy Lowenstein. JMM 1993.73.8

Alas, though I found the garden where it was once installed, the sundial is either gone, moved, or hidden within the towering flowering vine, whatever it may be, in the center of the formal garden. (Yes, I enjoyed the gardens very much… but I paid zero attention to the names of any flowers or trees – the fault is mine, not that of the arboretum’s educational staff!) I did not do enough research before setting off on my quest, so I was kind of hunting at random, but I did accidentally photograph a reverse view of the 1980 postcard from our collections. The lions and pine tree, still in place, show that the formal garden is still there, but the sundial is not to be seen, at least not by me.

Granted, 1974 was a long time ago, so I wasn’t entirely surprised not to find the sundial easily. Now that I’m doing some belated homework, it looks like it was there as recently as 2008, but perhaps in another part of the grounds? So I’ll put the question to our readers who are frequent visitors of the Arboretum: is the sundial still there? Do I need to make a return visit? I will be happy to have the excuse!

Malcolm W. Lowenstein and his tame mockingbird, circa 1960. Gift of Rita Jordy Lowenstein. 1992.185.3

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