The Great Mystery Show

October 7, 2017 – September 2, 2018
2nd floor gallery, Zanvyl A. Krieger Main Building

Admission grants entry to the museum and all exhibitions except "A Visionary Spirit for Invention," which is not open to the public.

Image Gallery


About the Exhibition

"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

Currently on view

The Secret Life of Earth
OCT. 5, 2019 – SEP. 5, 2021

The Secret Life of Earth

The Science and Mystery of Sleep
OCT. 10, 2020 - FALL 2022

The Science and Mystery of Sleep

Esther and the Dream of One Loving Human Family
FEB. 23, 2019 - MAR. 3, 2024

Esther and the Dream of One Loving Human Family

A Visionary Spirit for Invention
Nov. 23, 2020 - May 23, 2022

A Visionary Spirit for Invention

American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM)

800 Key Highway

Baltimore, MD 21230


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