Performance Counts May 2014: Planning Ahead
In the past few months you have read quite a bit about our current and upcoming exhibits: Project Mah Jongg, the Electrified Pickle, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen and Jews, Health and Healing. We also are preparing for some wonderful events including the 8th Annual Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch program this Sunday, featuring Rabbi Marvin Tokayer and our June 1 Annual Meeting with Dr. Len Saxe.
Yet even as we busily engage in the business of creating, funding and presenting these exciting current projects, we still keep one eye focused on the road ahead. You will recall that in the fall of 2012 the Board’s ad hoc “Futures Committee” produced a new vision document for the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The vision reinforced our focus on some of the attributes that make a museum successful, the so-called “four Ds”: destination, documentation, discourse and discovery. This vision has guided us in much of what’s been accomplished in the last eighteen months – the doubling of our public hours, the dramatic growth in our attendance, the strengthened relationship with The Associated, our reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums and even the painful decisions that have led us to a balanced budget in FY ’14.
This summer we will enter into a second phase of institutional planning. A new ad hoc “Planning Committee” will be formed with the goal of diving into the next level of the question “What is the Jewish Museum of Maryland?”. The concept is to build on the work from 2012. For example, we have made the commitment to focus on becoming a destination – now we’ll ask the question, “what are the distinguishing features of that destination?”. How are we similar or different from other Jewish museums? from other Baltimore museums? How do we make the most of our unique assets? This stage of planning will be critical as we look ahead to the way we develop our core environment, the historic synagogues and our permanent or signature exhibit.
Simultaneously with this search for “who we are?”, we are launching a second planning process this summer that seeks to answer the question “how do we fit in?”. This neighborhood vision/plan is being conducted in partnership with The Associated and in conjunction with the Jonestown Planning Council. As an anchor institution of historic Jonestown, JMM is a key stakeholder in the future development of our community. The success of the museum is ultimately dependent on what is built around us, not just on what we build. JMM has contracted with the firm of Mahan Rykiel to serve as our consultant for a planning process that will attempt to understand the needs and interests of current residents and businesses, the downtown Jewish community, and the potential museum audience to craft a compelling vision of what this area might become. Mahan Rykiel will also work with JMM, The Associated and the community to give some thought to the “branding” of Jonestown and its identity as a great place to live, work, play and visit.
Both planning processes are open to your thoughts. We will speak to many people over the next few months, but you don’t have to wait for us to call, you can hit the “reply” button to share your ideas.