Movie theaters are where our cultures dreams and desires have been projected since the arrival of nickelodeons, providing an enchanting portal into a world where moviegoers could escape their everyday lives. Yet many historic theaters have not escaped the impact of social and technological change, nor the abandonment that has diminished our aging cities. Baltimore, thriving at the dawn of the cinema age, has been home to more than 240 theaters since its first Nickelodeon opened in 1905. Only a handful still function as theaters, but many survive in some formghosts on the gritty main streets of Charm City.
Flickering Treasures invites visitors to travel in time through a survey of Baltimores movie-going past from 1896 to the present, using photography, oral histories, architectural fragments, and theater ephemera to illuminate themes of memory, loss, and preservation. Throughout, photojournalist Amy Davis color photographs reflect a nuanced and humanistic approach. The combination of Davis contemporary views alongside archival images depict the rise and fall of an industrial metropolis, exposing the impact of social and economic upheaval on American cities, specifically Baltimore. Through the lens of theater design, construction, and use, the exhibition engages with a familiar architectural form that few may have considered in relation to urban history.