“Where I have been. Where I am going.”

Posted on February 18, 2011 by

My past several blog posts have been lighthearted and full of pictures and funny comments, which I love. I’m a strong believer that blog posts should be informative, but also engaging and enjoyable to read for anyone who is interested. However, for this post I’m going to go against my own personal rules and withhold some of the pictures and fun.

“Where We’ve Been…Where We’re Going.” Photo by Will Kirk

The title of this post is inspired by a beautiful piece of work by Loring Cornish that is currently in the JMM exhibition, Loring Cornish: In Each Other’s Shoes. I’ve been working at the JMM for about 5 months now. Although I feel confident in saying that I jumped into the position of Community Outreach Coordinator pretty quickly, I feel like things are now really starting to take off. My job is not only new to me, it is also a new position at the JMM. Therefore it is really important that I always continue to think about the projects I am working on and if they are in fact staying true to the mission of my goal as Community Outreach Coordinator. I would like to publicly reflect a bit on some of the work that I have been doing at the JMM since starting this past October. I would also like to think about what my job will (and should) entail in the coming months. Ideally I would also like to hear from you (the public, the community) about what you think I should be doing.

One of the first projects I really jumped into was targeting the young adult population in Baltimore. As someone who is in my mid-twenties and new to the area it was easy for me to see that the JMM could do a lot more to be a cultural resource for this population. I’ve addressed this by working with Elena Rosemond-Hoerr on creating a set of programs dedicated to young adults and by finding community partners to help us launch a young adult initiative in the summer. So far, our most successful young adult partnership has been with the Baltimore Moishe House, a chapter of an organization dedicated to creating fun communal spaces for young Jews and “Jew lovers.” I’m also enjoying being a part of the planning process for Purim Pandemonium, a fantastic party for young adults that will be held at the JMM on March 19.

This is all great news, but my work is far from over. Yesterday I attended a meeting at THE ASSOCIATED with many other Young Adult Engagement Professionals in Baltimore. This meeting reminded me how much interest there is in this target young adult age group and hence, how much possibility there is for partnership and community engagement. However, the museum and I need to really think strategically about our goals for this group and how to make them happen. Do you have any suggestions? Are there specific organizations that we should be partnering with? Is there another age group or audience that we should be focusing on as well?

Photo by Mark Mehlinger

One of the other major projects that I hope to really start focusing on is the JMM’s Speakers Bureau. Currently we have a diverse group of speakers and lectures available, but can be dramatically expanded. The JMM has so many resources, including staff members and collections, that we should be able to offer great programming on a plethora of topics. My plan is to give this great program a bit of energy by recruiting new talent to speak (that could be you!), researching what topics people are interested in hearing about, and then getting the Speakers Bureau out to the public! This is a project that could really use the public’s help. What types of topics are you interested in learning about? What types of venues are good places for the Speakers Bureau?

Two 6th grade docents from Vartan Gregorian Elementary school at the "Faces of Fox Point" exhibit opening. Photo courtesy of Nara Hernandez

One of my favorite projects that I hope to work on this spring is partnering with local public schools to work with students on long-term projects. In graduate school I worked on a similar project where the principal of the local elementary school wanted to turn the school into a living museum. I love this sentiment. I think it is important that the JMM serve it’s neighbors and what better place to do so then in some of Baltimore’s struggling schools. The Education staff and I already have some great ideas about how to make this project happen and I will make sure to keep you updated on any progress.

Setting up traveling exhibits takes a lot of team work!

Finally, I can’t leave this post without talking about traveling exhibits! This is definitely my most time consuming project these days. It is also the area that I have the biggest learning curve to overcome. What I like about my job as coordinator for the JMM’s traveling exhibits is that it allows me to interact with all of the other staff members outside of the education team. I love my education team dearly, but it’s nice for me to go out of my comfort zone and learn from the curatorial team about the intricacies of handling objects, coordinating travel schedules, and even learning about the mundane (sorry, but it is!) details such as condition reports and insurance.

VOTE! Photo by Will Kirk

There are two traveling exhibitions that I am currently working on. The first is Vote! The Life and Work of Sadie Jacobs Crockin, which is currently traveling all over Maryland. Contact me (rbinning@jewishmuseummd.org) or visit the JMM site to learn more. If you have any ideas about where this exhibit should travel in the Summer and next Fall, please let me know!

Drawing on Tradition. Photo by Will Kirk

The second exhibit that I am in the midst of coordinating is Drawing on Tradition: The Book of Esther, an exhibit composed of original drawings for the Megillat Esther by JT Waldman. This exhibit is fantastical and fun and really timely since Purim is around the corner. Next week the exhibit will be traveling to 6th & I Historic Synagogue in Washington DC. JT Waldman will be speaking about his work there after a Shabbat service and dinner on Friday, March 11. I am especially excited that this exhibit is traveling to 6th & I because I live in DC and I’ve been to 6th & I on multiple occasions. It really is a great place for JT’s work to travel to.

There are many more projects that I’m involved in, but these are the ones most strongly on my mind. How do you think I’m doing? As Community Outreach Coordinator what do you think I should be working on? It is easy to get lost in work when so many great things are taking place, so please help me stay on track with your ideas and suggestions. Thanks in advance for your ideas. I’m looking forward to see what opportunities are waiting for me as I move forward.

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