What Makes You Smile?

Posted on June 15, 2011 by

On Friday June 10th, the Jewish Museum of Maryland went across town to visit another Baltimore attraction: the American Visionary Art Museum. The occasion was the JMM’s annual volunteer appreciation event, bringing together a motley crew of staff, volunteers and interns to celebrate all that the volunteers do, and to enjoy a tour around this iconic Baltimore institution. Our guide was the museum’s founder, Rebecca Hoffberger, and her detailed and informative tour was clear evidence of her enthusiasm for the museum, its art, and its engagement with the Baltimore community. Did you know, for example, that the shining mosaics that coat the museum’s exterior are the largest example of mosaic art produced by incarcerated youth? Or that all of the art displayed in the museum was produced by self-taught artists? Or that the museum’s current exhibition was co-curated by Matt Groenig, creator of The Simpsons? These are just some of the things that we learned last week.


Rebecca Hoffberger explains the creation of the mosaic façade of the museum.



Elsa Lanchester watches over a captive audience


We concluded our tour with a lunch to celebrate the contributions that all of the volunteers make to the efficient running of the museum, from the docents conducting tours around B’nai Israel and the Lloyd Street Synagogue, to those who help in the gift shop and at the front desk, to the behind-the-scenes administrative assistants. Every year, the American Visionary Art Museum chooses a different theme for the main exhibition galleries. This year’s theme is “What Makes Us Smile?” and explores the science, the history, and the beauty behind human joy. The exhibition runs until Labor Day, so do go and visit if you can. As for the JMM, the consensus on Friday was that the volunteers certainly give all who work at the museum something to smile about.


Speeches at the Volunteer Appreciation lunch.


A blog post by intern Laura Tomes.


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