Craters, mountains, rivers and footprints are all natural
phenomena which tell the story of a moment in time where a landscape has been permanently altered. The journey of life leaves a mark, and with these marks an identity is formed. This applies to both nature and people where a natural event changes an environment and an event changes a person. These events do not always leave a physical mark, but some feel a need to identify this event by permanently altering one’s body via tattoos.
Whether it is the identification of the coming of age of a tribal warrior or the commemoration of a sailor’s voyage across the sea, tattoos have been embedded in the fabric of human history as early as 10,000 B.C.
Since 1999 the Baltimore Tattoo Museum of Fells Point, a
historical ship building area, has investigated life’s journeys through the art of tattoo. The existing program, constrained by its small space, displays only part of the intricate history of tattoo: American electric tattoo. This proposed thesis transports the existing museum to Recreation Pier, a nearby waterfront venue large enough for portraying a complete history of tattooing with shopping and restaurants close by to enhance the Fells Point visit. At this museum one is granted a rare opportunity to learn about the geographical tattoo history of the Americas, Asia, Polynesia, Africa, and Europe. Visitors get a rare look into the importance of tattoo in prisons and crime as well as a look at the science behind inscribing the body. An on-site working studio offers a first-hand look at the process as well as a living art gallery.
The museum collection comes from in-depth historical
research, tattoo studio site visits, artist interviews, tattoo
surveys, and past exhibition reviews. After investigation into methods of exhibition design in a natural history museum-like setting, the exhibit is organized both chronologically and by region with living art tattoo booths interspersed throughout. Text panels, photos and artifact cases containing tattoo equipment inform the visitor about this ancient history.
With only eight established tattoo museums around the world, five of which have a full multicultural history, the people and visitors of Baltimore will be exposed to the historical progression, culture, and techniques of marking the body. This proposed museum is unique in that each area immerses the visitor in the essence of its geographical region while educating and broadening the mind about the art of tattoo and its place in human history.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Masters of Arts
Corcoran College of Art + Design (Washington, D.C.)
Masters Theses from the Corcoran College of Art + Design
The Corcoran College of Art + Design has non-exclusive publication rights. Permission is granted to quote from the thesis with the customary acknowledgement of the source. Copyright for each article is retained by the author. Republication in any form requires permission from the author of the thesis.