Some quick snapshots from our “American Girl” Program!

Posted on December 30th, 2010 by

A lot of concentration at the craft tables!

Author Jacqueline Dembar Greene signs books and chats with visitors.

Dads help out with dolls!

Decorating "tea cups."

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Annual Meeting 2010!

Posted on June 24th, 2010 by

On Sunday, June 6th here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, we held our annual meeting.

But this wasn’t just any annual meeting! No, this was the annual meeting of our 50th year! We’ve been trying to celebrate our jubilee year with panache through special programs (like the re-dedication of Lloyd Street Synagogue in March) and putting just a little bit of extra sparkle on all our regular offerings. Our annual meeting was no different!

Bruce Sholk, Larry Caplan, James Rothschild

One of the special features of this year’s meeting was a tribute to past JMM leaders, delivered by Baltimore’s own Gilbert Sandler.

Following Gil’s tribute came our keynote speaker, Marsha Semmel from the IMLS, speaking on the future of museums.

After sharing a number of stories, Gil thanked all past and present JMM trustees for their dedicated service to and support of the JMM. At the end of her talk, Marsha was surprised by the presentation of an Award of Appreciation to the IMLS, on behalf of Baltimore museums.

Roland Woodward, president of the Greater Baltimore History Alliance (and JMM trustee) was on hand to present the award.

But before all of these illustrious speakers, the meeting was opened with a welcome from our own associate director Anita Kassof. Her remarks, which follow below, set the tone of the meeting and truly capture the direction of the museum’s gaze as we celebrate our 50th year.

As we began planning for our anniversary year, we batted around a number of potential taglines. One of my personal favorites, which, unfortunately, didn’t stick, was “Halfway to one hundred.”

What I like about that tagline is that it acknowledges that while anniversaries are an occasion to look backwards, they also offer an opportunity to look ahead. As a history museum, we do a good job of examining the past, interpreting it, and drawing messages and meaning from it. Our exhibitions exemplify our commitment to learning from our collective past: In Her Inward Eye, Nancy Patz’s works asks us to ponder the significance of memory. Voices of Lombard Street is a nostalgic journey that explores how community is shaped. The Synagogue Speaks, our newest exhibition, unearths the mysteries of a building that continues to reveal new secrets every time we dig a little deeper.

Certainly, nostalgia and reflection have their place in our exhibitions and programs, but we would be shortchanging ourselves and our visitors if we only looked in one direction.

Our job is also to meet the future head on by embracing new ways to engage and inspire our visitors. To that end—with the help of the under-30 staff at the Museum—we’re diving into the social networking world by Facebooking, blogging, and developing an interactive microsite for our Chosen Food exhibition. And Tweeting is just down the road.

Developing and using these applications has been quite an education for those of us who grew up with manual typewriters and rotary telephones, but it’s clearly the wave of the future and provides wonderful opportunities to engage visitors, younger ones in particular.

Just as I was pondering the role of social media and other new technologies in engaging visitors of the future, I learned that the theme of next year’s conference of the American Association of Museums is “The Museum of Tomorrow.”

It seems that, of late, numerous symposia, articles, and online discussions have been devoted to exploring what shape museums will take the twenty-first century.

Not a little anxiety accompanies these musings, as museum professionals—and our visiting public—envision how museums will look in the internet age. Wonderful opportunities await us. But as we enter uncharted territory in our march toward the future, I hope that we don’t lose sight of the value of traditional museums as places of discovery that offer authentic experiences. Sometimes, visitors find things in our exhibitions that surprise even us, as they interpret the authentic—a yellowed document, a snippet from an oral history, the brushstroke on a canvas—through the lens of their own experiences.

So as we celebrate the Museum’s fiftieth and look forward to our next half century on Lloyd Street, it’s critical that we keep in mind, first and foremost, what makes us special.

Our two historic synagogues—beautifully restored and interpreted—offer real encounters with material evidence of the past, showing how different people have used and shaped the buildings. Our collections, the largest and most varied of their kind, vividly illustrate our communal past. Our programs and exhibitions invite visitors to engage with real things in authentic settings. The Museum is truly a place of discovery—and of mystery—where visitors can encounter the unexpected. In the process, they may just find out more about themselves.

*All photographs by Will Kirk and Mark Mehlinger.

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Introducing the “Adventurous Eight!”

Posted on June 4th, 2010 by

The Adventurous Eight!

This week we welcomed our new summer interns to the museum. Between Education, Collections and Exhibitions we are hosting 8 interns this summer – they make quite a crowd!

Exhibition interns Rachel Ellis and Julie Bertling will be working on the Chosen Food exhibition. They will be researching potential objects, listening to oral histories, and searching for interesting Jewish food events across the country.

Rachel began her summer internship this week with two days of orientation then an introduction to the Chosen Food exhibition project with Karen Falk. Her first experience in museum work, Rachel found the Collections room most fascinating, while learning how to handle objects was trickier than she anticipated.

Julie was away at a wedding for the second half of the week, so we’ll have to find out what she liked best next week!

Photo Collection intern Rachael Gilman will be working on the photography collection – scanning and cataloging photographs as well as inventorying the negative collection, digitizing oral histories and transcripts, and re-organizing the oversize photographs.

Rachael learned a lot about Baltimore Jewish History. Rachael also learned how to scan photographs; a skill that she will be using almost every day this summer as a photo intern. Her favorite thing was learning how to use Past Perfect software. She also really enjoyed meeting everyone on staff.


Collections intern Sara Patenaude-Schuster will be processing the new collections that come in this summer and photographing the 3D collections. In addition, Sara will be reviewing the AV collection and cataloguing them properly and digitizing the oral history collection.


This week, Sara learned an overwhelming amount of information in 3 days of orientation activities. She is very excited to put her new skills to work as Jobi’s Collections Intern. Her favorite part of orientation was handling objects!


Archival interns Brittney Baltimore and Kristin Davidson will be processing large portions of the Baltimore Hebrew University Archives. They will be responsible for basic preservation (removing staples and paperclips and placing documents in acid free folders and boxes), organizing the papers, and writing finding aids for each portion.

Brittney enjoyed her first week at the JMM. She participated in informative Past Perfect and Handling Training workshops. Her favorite part of orientation week was meeting the helpful staff and fellow friendly interns. She is very excited to travel to the Hava NaGrilla Kosher BBQ festival this weekend on assignment to interview festival goers for the Chosen Food exhibit.

Kristin Davidson participated in three days of orientation with her fellow interns. She also began scanning photographs from the Baltimore Hebrew University Collection. She enjoyed seeing the 1960s style hair and dress in the class photographs. The most useful thing she learned was how to use Past Perfect. Her favorite thing that she got to do this week was during the Object Handling workshop. She got to handle a beautifully painted porcelain Napoleanic tea set.


Education and Program interns Julia Mazur and Lindsay Waskow will be providing much needed assistance on several educational initiatives such as developing programs for our SuperKids campers and helping with arrangements for our upcoming Summer Teachers Institute. In addition, they will help research a documentary project focusing on Baltimore-area synagogues for our fall 50th birthday celebration.


Julia Mazur’s favorite part of her first week was going to Patterson Park High School and listening to ESOL students tell their stories about immigrating the Unites States. She especially enjoyed the pizza lunch.

Lindsay’s favorite part of her first week was going toPattersonHigh Schooland listening to the five ESOL students each tell their own unique stories about their immigration experiences to theUnited States.She very much liked hearing the comments from the audience and how touched everyone seemed to be that these students were able to narrate their stories in English, which is not their native language.

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