I have been interning at the museum for about six weeks now and have done jobs ranging from creating lesson plans to hanging signs on fences to going through files of a closing Jewish day school. I did not imagine doing most things outside of the Education and Programming department but all have been worthwhile. The most interesting and exciting job I got to take part of was the Sunday floor manger at the museum on July 17th. Deborah Cardin, the Education director, emailed the West Wing staff asking if anyone was available to fill in on the 17th. I jumped at the opportunity to experience another side of the museum (and a change to meet Congressman Elijah Cummings who was scheduled to appear at a private event at the museum that night).
I met Deborah at the museum at 11 am. She opened up the museum and waited for James, the head security guard, to arrive. With James there, we both knew that I had nothing to worry about as James had all the answers. After Deborah left Ernie, the volunteer docent, arrived and we were soon in business. At exactly 12 noon, a couple entered the museum excited to see the synagogues and the museum. With our volunteer for the front desk running late I had to step in. I made the admission transaction and our first two patrons (of nineteen for the day) entered the museum. Soon Rachel, the front desk volunteer arrived. Now we were fully staffed. Maurice was securing the Lloyd Street Synagogue, James was in the museum, Rachel was at the front desk, Ernie was waiting to give his tours, and I was in the gift shop (filling in for a volunteer vacancy).
Around 1 pm we got a rush of people, all anxious to go on the tour. When the group went on the tour, the museum became very quiet. It was quite nice. Ernie had some articles about the museum and synagogues to highlight the significance of both. Ernie led the group out into the Baltimore heat excited to talk about the historical synagogues.
As the museum got closer and closer to closing, the team of volunteers and guards were getting ready to go. Ernie left after his 2:30 pm tour was over. By 4 pm, Rachel and Maurice left as well leaving me and James to man the museum until Ilene Dackman-Alon arrived for our evening program. Not long after Ilene arrived, members of the Elijah Cummings Youth Project (ECYP) arrived. Members of their board, their students preparing for their trip to Israel, staff members and Congressman Elijah Cummings came to the museum. The event involved a tour of Loring Cornish’s In Each Others Shoes exhibit with the artist himself. Also, Congressman Cummings spoke. He tasked the students going on the trip to Israel to take advantage of this opportunity. Listening to the Congressman in such an intimate setting was a privilege I would never had received had I not worked at the museum.
Though hearing Congressman Cummings speak and seeing a different side of the museum was very exciting, the best part of my Sunday was selling all of the museums car mezuzahs. A board member of ECYP wanted to give each student a traveler’s prayer to take with them on their trip. The museum does not sell just the prayer, but inside the car mezuzahs are the traveler’s prayer along with an English translation. It was the best option Ilene and I could find. And with the 40% of sale the JMM store is having for the month of July it was a great deal. The only problem we could foresee was that the museum only had eleven car mezuzahs, and there are thirteen students. The board member took the risk and bought the eleven we had. It felt good being able to help a patron of the museum by also selling a lot of merchandise for the museum. I hope Esther comes back from Israel happily surprised.
My day as the Sunday Floor Manager was exciting. I got to see a whole new side to the museum. I got to experience the museum for myself on a day where I was more involved with the public than I am during the week. I was happily surprised that about twenty people came to the museum on a day the museum had to compete against Artscape. All in all it was a great day and no problems developed. A day well spent at the JMM.