John Waters Donates His Entire Personal Collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art

Tending towards the naughty, the perverse, and the ironic, the filmmaker's collection of 372 works is still hanging on the walls of his local home.

The filmmaker John Waters will donate 372 works by 125 artists from his personal collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art—his hometown institution—after his death. The elegant lineup is pleasantly unexpected from a collector known as the Pope of Trash, a nickname he earned after filming a scene in the 1972 cult classic Pink Flamingos, in which a performer called Devine feasts on dog droppings. The assembly of works is nuanced, with pieces by the likes of Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Christian Marclay, Catherine Opie, Gary Simmons, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Christopher Wool, among others. “I’ve always said you have to know good taste to have good bad taste,” Waters tells the New York Times.

After the institution’s recent attempts to deaccession works by Warhol, Brice Marden, and Clyfford Still to create funding for the acquisition of works by Black artists, Waters’ gift stipulates that the museum cannot part with his collection. Not completely unexpected of the patron was his tongue-in-cheek request that the rotunda named after him, must also include two bathrooms. “That was my first demand,” says Waters. “They thought I was kidding.”

All Stories