School 33 Art Center was established in 1979 as a center for contemporary art in South Baltimore. Formerly known as Public School 33, Baltimore City erected the brick and brownstone building in 1890. It operated as an elementary school up until 1975 when a new school opened just a few blocks away. The South Baltimore Community Committee sought help from then Mayor William Donald Schaefer in revitalizing the vacant and vandalized building. Based on the success of Long Island City's P.S. 1 in New York and the strong national presence of alternative space programs in the late 1970s, Mayor Schaefer proposed a similar program for Baltimore, thus creating School 33 Art Center.
As this building represented a significant component of Baltimore's architectural heritage, the renovation exemplified the City's belief in the revitalization of unused urban resources. The renovations were made possible with federal funds from the United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration and through the City's Public Works Improvement Program.
After an extensive two-year restoration to allow for the creation of adequate gallery, studio and classroom spaces, School 33 opened its doors in July 1979, becoming Baltimore's original alternative space for contemporary art. The program offerings included one gallery exhibition space (today expanded to three), studio facilities for professional artists, and classrooms for ceramics and printmaking workshops.
For thirty-eight years, School 33 Art Center has been a bridge between contemporary artists and the public. Through exhibitions, studios for artists, classes for adults and children, as well as special events and workshops, the center works to insure a vibrant future for contemporary art and artists in Baltimore. The three gallery spaces, multi-use classrooms, permanent, on-site collaborative installations, and an environmentally-friendly outdoor garden fed by a rainwater collection system are examples of School 33's commitment to maintaining and expanding the potential of our historic building.
Today, as a program of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, the center's goal is to remain an engaging and relevant center for the arts, by showcasing and sustaining emerging and established contemporary artists, and training budding artists from Baltimore and beyond, well into the future.