Annual Meeting and Reception


Baltimore Museum of Art

August 10, 2008|By SLOANE BROWN

If you think a museum is always a place of quiet contemplation, you weren't at the Baltimore Museum of Art's Annual Meeting and Reception. The decibel level (and the excitement level) in the BMA's Atrium Court resembled something more along the lines of a high-school pep rally. The reason wasn't just the official kickoff of the museum's $65 million philanthropic campaign, but the announcement that $40 million has already been raised.

BMA board chair Stiles T. Colwill was walking on air.

"This is a huge bonus, not just for the museum, but for Baltimore and the whole region," he said.

The money "is going to fill these wonderful halls with new art ... and also, hopefully, get a lot of planned gifts in the process," said BMA capital campaign co-chair Sandra Levi Gerstung, who had a huge smile on her face.

As folks sipped cocktails, nibbled on hors d'oeuvres and enthusiastically discussed the BMA's future, capital campaign chair and former board chair Charles Newhall provided some history.

"Baltimore in 1850 was the second-largest city [population-wise in the U.S.]. When I moved here in 1957, it was the seventh-largest city. Today, we're like the 300th-largest city. We have cultural institutions in place for a very large city that we no longer are. ... If we want to keep our cultural institutions healthy, we have to have endowment."

The evening was indeed one to celebrate for BMA director Doreen Bolger.

"We have so much to be grateful for," she said.

"We celebrate the year that's been passed and to look forward to the year that's ahead."


Sloane Browne takes you to the party with a calendar of coming events and video reports at







LaRian Finney, 42, is founder, CEO and president of Visionary Marketing Group, a marketing and event planning firm in Baltimore. He lives in Reservoir Hill with wife Kia Finney, a federal attorney, and their daughter, Rachael, 14, and son Rian, 5.

Is your job fun?

Oh, I love my job. We have clients who call from all over the country who say, "We have a vision, we have a budget but we don't know how to make it relevant and hot." Like Dan Meachum, an attorney based in Atlanta. He's the attorney who represented Wesley Snipes in his recent tax case. He called and said, "I want to do my 50th birthday party. Here's my budget, and make it hot." So, we selected Miami. We selected the Versace mansion. We invited his A-list of clients, which included Denzel Washington.

What do you do in your down time?

I'm at Tim Dean's. I like to hang out with my friends with a cocktail and a cigar. I love the movies. ... My son and I, Thursday is our movie day. I pick him up from school, and we go and see a movie.

What would surprise people to know about you?

That I have a degree in chemistry. That I come from Cherry Hill, and I'm very proud of that. I think some people run away from their upbringing, which I think is being a coward.


Read more conversation with LaRian Finney at

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