Now on View

The Great Mystery Show

October 7, 2017 - September 2, 2018

Select images from The Great Mystery Show:


"Do not grow old, no matter how long you live. Never cease to stand like curious children before the Great Mystery into which we were born." - Albert Einstein

Welcome All Ye Passionately Curious!

The Great Mystery Show beckons you—each the star of your own personal mystery show—to our American Visionary Art Museum's newest, wholly original, art exhibition. From psychics to physicists, The Great Mystery Show artfully peels away the veil of the unknown, playfully exploring mystery as that one secret power behind great art, science, and pursuit of the sacred. One part lively fun house, two parts cosmic dream lab, the exhibition weaves the creative investigations of 39 visionary artists, research scientists, astronauts, mystics, and philosophers into one grand-scale exploration of mystery that's 100% devoted to inspiring that ever-questioning "sleuth for the truth" in each of us. No "alternative facts here"—just a wildly visual exaltation of the strangeness and wonder of Life itself.

Our choice of Mystery as a communal focus celebrates the fact that we humans start out life as little question machines, i.e. "Why is the sky blue, Mommy?" Even Einstein declared, "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." As we grow and age, our hardwired need for answers and meaning progresses—"Is there life after death?" or "Why do terrible things happen to good people?" Here, Einstein offers more sage solace, "God does not play dice with the universe" — his assertion that life is not random, nor casually conceived, nor without purpose.

Mystery holds the door open to human imagination, inspiring our fascination with whodunit-style film and books and theological and scientific inquiry. In a time of so much focus on fear and doom, inventor Michael Faraday reminds us, "Nothing is too wonderful to be true."

May your life's mystery unfold in ways of wonder, greater peace and joy!

Heartfelt thanks to all our visionary artists, art lenders, generous sponsors, our friends at the NASA Space Telescope Science Institute, The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, and all of AVAM's amazingly wondrous staff and curatorial assistant, Anna Gulyavskaya. -Rebecca Hoffberger, founder, director and curator

Exhibition Artists:

Anonymous Artist • Kelley Bell • David Bowman • Mary Bowron • Paul Darmafall • Jim Doran • Dr. B • Peter Eglington • George Figgs • Edward Gorey • Paul Graubard • Michael Green • Richard "Duke" Hagerty • Julian Harr • Gerald Hawkes • John Root Hopkins • Jan Huling • Lorann Jacobs • Len Jenkin • Nancy Josephson • Paul Laffoley • James Leonard • Scott Long • Rafael Matias • Antar Mikosz • Greg Mort • Margaret Munz-Losch • Chris Roberts-Antieau • Dr. Ned Rosinsky • Richard Smith • Bernard Stiegler • Ingo Swann • Christian Twamley • Louis Wain • Aric Wanveer • Frank Warren • Edward Woltemate • Betsy Youngquist

Exhibition Sponsors:

  • PLATINUM: The Reva & David Logan Foundation • Whiting-Turner Contracting Company • United Therapeutics, Martine & Bina Rothblatt
  • GOLD: Anonymous • Robert E. Meyerhoff & Rheda Becker • Jane Daniels • Patty & Greg Kuzbida • Lawrence Pakula, M.D. • Rita & Jim Regino • Satchi Royers
  • SILVER: Mary Catherine Bunting • Richard & Rosalee Davison • Mr. & Mrs. Lew Diuguid • Philip & Harriet L Klein Foundation • Karen Whaley & James Magner • Tom & Linda McCabe • Promega • Phil & Brenda Brown Rever • Arnold & Alison Richman
  • BRONZE: Emile Bendit & Diane Abeloff • The Batza Family Foundation • Joan Develin Coley & M Lee Rice • Barbara & Louis Denrich • JoAnn & Jack Fruchtman • John Sondheim & Emily R. Greenberg • The Goldsmith Family Foundation • George & Betsy Hess • Sandra & Tom Hess • Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund • Jim & Patty Rouse Charitable Foundation
  • Supporter: C And M Berns Foundation • John & Berthe Ford • William & Nan Paternotte • Ellen L Patz Philanthropic Fund • Jan Weinberg
  • Public Support: Maryland State Arts Council Maryland State Department of Education • The Citizens of Baltimore County & the Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences • Mayor Catherine E. Pugh and the Baltimore Office of Promotion and The Arts • The Howard County Government & the Howard County Arts Council

To become an exhibition sponsor and receive its benefits, please click here to email Abby Baer, Development Coordinator or you may also reach her at (410) 244–1900 x247.

Exhibition Quotes

Click here to download a list of the quotations and sayings within the exhibition.

Exhibition Artists, Works, and Lenders

For a complete list of artists, works, and lenders in the show, click here to donwload the list