Intern Weekly Response: Internship Reflections

Posted on August 9th, 2017 by

Every week we’re asking our summer interns to share some thoughts and responses to various experiences and readings. This week we asked them to look back over the summer and to reflect on what they’ve learned, share some favorite memories, and give us some updates on their projects. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


 

A Summer of Stories

by oral history intern Tirza Ochrach-Konradi

The Beth Am project is going swimmingly! So far there are ten interviews, six of which I conducted, with full transcriptions. This adds up to over eight hours of oral history content, and I will be fitting in one more this week! In addition I’ve made contact with five individuals who weren’t available over the summer, but are happy to be interviewed this fall so the project is going to be running full force forward. Beth Am is well on its way to an amazing video commemorating the 100th anniversary of the temple building! I’ve had a great time becoming immersed in the history of Beth Am and have had a wonderful time working with people’s stories.

The 100th Anniversary of the temple will be in 2022. Original architectural drawing of the temple’s front façade by Joseph Evans Sperry.  (JMM 1997.063.018)

The 100th Anniversary of the temple will be in 2022. Original architectural drawing of the temple’s front façade by Joseph Evans Sperry.  (JMM 1997.063.018)

My favorite memories from this summer are definitely every interview. Being allowed to enter someone’s home and ask them to share their memories is an incredible experience. The majority of the folks I interviewed were retired, which I imagine meant they had time to perfect their decorative skill, because every room I interviewed in was gorgeous. I got to collect all kinds of stories. Some highlights include elephants at Druid Hill Park, Jewish exclusion from Roland Park, details of the Harbor Place renovations, stories of meeting and falling in love, moving to and living in Baltimore City, making Bat Mitzvah corsages out of war stamps, innumerable stories about Dr. Louis L. Kaplan, working in and for Baltimore City, and all of the work that went into getting Beth Am, the self-described do-it-yourself synagogue, up and running.

 

Photograph of the Beth Am main entrance which fronts onto Eutaw Place. (JMM 1996.010.073)

Photograph of the Beth Am main entrance which fronts onto Eutaw Place. (JMM 1996.010.073)

In my sociology course work I’ve read countless ethnographic pieces that depend on interview material, but I hadn’t done any hands on work to discover whether this kind of research is something I would enjoy. After this internship I can say for certain that interview work is a definite positive! I’m only entering my junior year of undergrad so I have some time to figure out where I’d like to end up. This internship has helped me find the connections between what I’m studying and museum work and has really introduced the field as a possibility.


 

 

The Wrap-Up

By education intern Sara Philippe

This internship has taught me a lot about the importance of the programs and education departments of museums, two areas that did not immediately come to mind when thinking about museums prior to this summer. I learned a lot about determining what factors to take into consideration when planning a program as I searched for potential speakers, performers, and films to host at the museum. I also thought a lot about how to create educational materials and experiences that would be appropriate and compelling for a wide range of students. When doing educational work, we always had to consider how it would illuminate the exhibit in question and make it more accessible to the students hoping to learn from it. We also had to tailor activities keeping in mind students’ level of familiarity with Judaism, sometimes putting together activities that could work for both non-Jewish and Jewish students, as well as separate activities to ensure a more meaningful experience for both types of students. I loved all of this work and can definitely see myself continuing to do it in my future. I love that it requires you to stay on your feet, think creatively, and interact with a wide variety of people.

Our workspace as we get ready for the Summer Teachers Institute

Our workspace as we get ready for the Summer Teachers Institute

As I look back on this summer, a few memories stand out. Erin and I were tasked with documenting the cracks on the very old walls of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Although sometimes the going got tough, I had a great time posing with our makeshift whiteboard and a yardstick next to a crack on the wall in the heat of the balcony as Erin took photos. I even managed to stave off the temptation to be in every photo. Interacting with student tour groups was one of my favorite aspects of the internship. We recently hosted the junior ambassadors from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and I really enjoyed watching them do the same workshop about Jewish refugees to Baltimore that the interns had done earlier in the summer with Ilene. They had so much important knowledge from their work as Holocaust educators that they were able to bring to the activity. I also loved when the Bell Camp for blind children visited. I painstakingly put together a craft for the kids that would enable them to make stars of David out of popsicle sticks and Velcro. It ended up being more difficult than I thought it would be and not everything went as planned, but it was definitely a valuable learning experience for which I am grateful.

Our display now up in Lloyd Street next to the matzah oven

Our display now up in Lloyd Street next to the matzah oven

One of my proudest accomplishments this summer has been the mini-exhibit that Erin and I designed for the case in the basement of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Baltimore’s Talmudical Academy, Erin and I carefully crafted a display using artifacts from the JMM’s archives. We feature photographs old and new and real artifacts from TA’s earlier years like a fundraising brochure for a new building in the 1930s and a beautiful, miniscule prayer book. As of yesterday, the display is up and ready to be viewed. I hope people enjoy it and appreciate the connection between TA and the Lloyd Street Synagogue, both homes to Rabbi Schwartz. As our last week comes to an end, we are continuing to work on preparing for the Summer Teachers Institute on Holocaust education taking place next week. Erin and I have been working hard coordinating the three-day event’s logistics and it is shaping up to be a great experience with many learning opportunities and compelling speakers. Also looking ahead to the future, Erin and I finished putting together an educational resource to accompany the JMM’s upcoming exhibit Discovery and Recovery: Preserving the Iraqi Jewish Archive. We did our best to come up with ways to teach the complicated history of Iraqi Jews to students of all grade levels in a meaningful and engaging way, and I’m looking forward to this resource being put to good use.

To find out more about my experience at the JMM this summer, check out Erin and I’s podcast We Know What We Did This Summer! (coming soon)


 

Au Revoir, et Merci

by exhibitions intern Ryan Mercado

Well, here I am 10 week later from my first day back in June. These last 2 months have been full of many long work days and experiences, and I’m happy I got to have this opportunity. I started out this internship as a recent college graduate, I had no prior experience in museums nor did I even have an internship before. Then I found myself working for the Jewish Museum and I could not have been more excited.

All the interns as we walk back from getting delicious desserts from Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop. I will miss all of them and the fun times at lunch we had together!

All the interns as we walk back from getting delicious desserts from Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop. I will miss all of them and the fun times at lunch we had together!

I learned a lot about Museums that I honestly did not know before. One thing that continuously sticks with me is the idea of the Museum being like a business. This came from Marvin’s workshop a few weeks back. I see a business in this museum and in others, from Tracie working the phones to Sue planning the Volunteer Appreciation dinner, there are literally so many aspects to a museum! I also learned that as each department works separately from one another, all of them need to be in balance as they work with one another. The Collections Manager needs to work with the Curator, the Curator with Marketing, etc! The Staff depends on one another and when they all work hard they get wonderful results, such as the Just Married exhibition.

“PastPerfect Cubicle A” aka my work station and my home away from how for the past 10 weeks.

“PastPerfect Cubicle A” aka my work station and my home away from how for the past 10 weeks.

I’m leaving this internship having put a small mark on the upcoming exhibit: Belonging(s): What Connects Us, which will open hopefully in 2019. I did three projects this summer: A character profile on a Jewish Socialist, research on the Maryland Jew Bill, and I started what is perhaps the Museum’s first real in-depth research on converts to Judaism. I hope that what research I did, what quotes I catalogued in excel, and even the siddur I donated to the Museum will help the upcoming exhibition in some way. For myself, as a convert to Judaism, to work in a Jewish Museum being surrounded by Jewish History and helping preserve it and even contribute to it has made me immensely proud and affirms my new Jewish identity. I will miss all the interns as we go our separate ways, and I will miss the JMM staff as well. This museum and this internship defined my summer 2017. It’s tough to say goodbye, but I’m ready to move on to grad school and what awaits me in Montreal.


 

Looking Back at the Summer

By collections intern Amy Swartz

It seems strange to me that my time interning at the JMM is almost over. During my ten weeks here I have learned more about museum functions and have been able to narrow down future career paths. I learned about handling textiles and putting together a traveling exhibit. Prior to this experience I had always envisioned a future career as a curator. This internship has expanded my interest to collections, especially since curators for exhibits can switch in and out and be outsourced. I find that I enjoy working with physical objects more than research sometimes.

The interns at the Just Married opening.

The interns at the Just Married opening.

Some of my favorite memories from this summer include forming friendships with the other interns, planning intern night, and helping put together the wedding exhibit. Joelle and I had fun working together in the basement and I will never forget the daily intern lunch talks and our trip to Vaccaro’s. I also really enjoyed going on a mini field trip to look at a possible accession: two large gilded lions.

The interns after getting cannoli and gelato at Vaccaro’s

The interns after getting cannoli and gelato at Vaccaro’s

Most of the collections projects have been wrapped up – quite literally in some cases. The traveling exhibit is mostly condition reported and packed besides larger items that need specialized crates. Our files have been organized and new accessions have been put into PastPerfect. Our podcast is finished and edited and will be up shortly too. Ultimately, as the summer has been coming to an end so too have been our projects. There is one last remaining thing to look forward to however: The Summer’s Teachers Institute next week; I am excited to learn about teaching the Holocaust and visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C.


 

My Museum Story

by education intern Erin Penn

In one of the first workshops for the interns, Marvin asked us about our museum story. I have always loved museums whether it was a day trip with my family or a school fieldtrip. They were always a place that made me feel comfortable and excited to learn. Ten weeks later, I have an even richer and more personal museum story. I have been able to help every department in both big and small ways. With Just Married!, I was able to help steam the dresses to ensure they were picture perfect for the exhibit. I was lucky to help create posts for all of the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s social media platforms. My specific work with education and programs has provided me with great lessons about the inner workings of both museum education departments and programs. There, I’ve had projects that ranged from creating curriculum for students to organizing the crafts for family day programs. This internship has added a huge chapter to my museum story.

Here I am with the other Summer interns. Now when I think of museums, each one of them will be included into my Museum story.

Here I am with the other Summer interns. Now when I think of museums, each one of them will be included into my Museum story.

This internship has been full of great and educational memories. I loved helping with intern night gathering the prizes and calling companies. It felt like I was in a race across town to get every last gift card and certificate in a ten mile radius. I also loved being able to sit in on the staff meetings. It was so fascinating to watch the JMM’s staff tackle the upcoming weeks in a fast-paced and exciting environment. I challenged myself to transcribe what each staff member shared. I am excited to look back on the minutes and reflect fondly on the experience of seeing everyone at work.

Harris Teeter was one stop on the hunt for great intern night prizes.

Harris Teeter was one stop on the hunt for great intern night prizes.

With the internship wrapping up, the education interns’ projects are in great shape. Our research for the Iraqi Jewish Archives lent itself over for education tools and activities for future school visits to the museum. Our experimental crafting and googling will be used to ensure Iraqi Family Day and other programs are a total blast! The search for Jewish entertainers and performers will help create an exciting line up for JMM Live in March and April. The Lloyd Street display case is now exhibiting our designed and curated look into Talmudical Academy’s 100th year. Summer Teachers Institute opening day quickly approaches and the education interns are making sure the event runs smoothly creating folders and organizing the resources. While most of the projects from the summer will not go into effect until after the internship is over, they allowed me to dive into museum operations and really give back to the JMM.


A Sizeable Dent

By collections intern Joelle Paull

As the internship draws to a close, it is nice to reflect back on the past 10 weeks. As a recent graduate, I went into this summer hoping to explore different interests and gain new experience. Ultimately this summer re-enforced many of future goals and raised new questions for me.

In the basement, but not forgotten. Our fellow interns made us these name signs!

In the basement, but not forgotten. Our fellow interns made us these name signs!

We have wrapped most of our projects up. Over the past couple months we have inventoried a portion of the collection, packed boxes to send a JMM exhibit on the road, and processed new donations. Inventory is ongoing, but we definitely made some a sizeable dent in the list. It was a fun project to begin the summer with, as it gave us the chance to explore the collection.

Intern Lunch Break!

Intern Lunch Break!

I really enjoyed spending time with the other interns and our daily lunch conversations. Highlights from the summer include taking a small trip to look at a recent accession and planning intern night. I loved having the opportunity to live in and explore Baltimore including visiting other museums and going out to dinner with fellow interns. I am looking forward to the Summer Teachers Institute next week and excited for new adventures!

 

 

 

 

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Intern Weekly Response: Podcast Previews

Posted on August 3rd, 2017 by

Every week we’re asking our summer interns to share some thoughts and responses to various experiences and readings. This week we asked them to give us a sneak peek of the upcoming podcasts they are creating! To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


 

We’ve Got Belongings on Our Mind!

By exhibitions intern Tirza Ochrach-Konradi

The exhibitions intern team is making out podcast together! We’ve all been doing work that is directly related or tangential to the Belonging(s) exhibit that is in the works right now. The exhibit won’t open to the public until 2019, but all of the preparation research is in full force. We have been thinking about belonging all summer, so the concept has had a lot of time to marinate in our heads. We hope you will look forward to hearing our podcast conversation where we discuss our personal feelings about Jewish belonging!

There are all kinds of artifacts that are belongings related in the JMM archives. Here are two pieces from the collection that fit right in with the theme:

Rumanian refugees loading a truck with their belongings, leaving Budapest, Hungary. January 28, 1948 (JMM 1971.020.170)         

Rumanian refugees loading a truck with their belongings, leaving Budapest, Hungary. January 28, 1948 (JMM 1971.020.170)

This suitcase is the one which was permitted by the Nazis to be taken along by Theo Weil and his wife, Hilde Weil (nee Wachenheimer), from their home in Freiburg in Brisgau, Baden, Germany, in October 1939 when the entire Jewish population of that sector were given one hour to pack their belongings before they were herded and loaded into freight trains. (JMM 1990.119.001)

This suitcase is the one which was permitted by the Nazis to be taken along by Theo Weil and his wife, Hilde Weil (nee Wachenheimer), from their home in Freiburg in Brisgau, Baden, Germany, in October 1939 when the entire Jewish population of that sector were given one hour to pack their belongings before they were herded and loaded into freight trains. (JMM 1990.119.001)


 

Reflecting on My and Other’s Judaism in the 21st Century

By exhibitions intern Ryan Mercado

We Jews have to find a nice Jewish boy a make a good family right? Well not quite. I discuss how more and more Jewish millennials are marrying outside the religion!

We Jews have to find a nice Jewish boy a make a good family right? Well not quite. I discuss how more and more Jewish millennials are marrying outside the religion!

We all come from different origins and we all have different lives. Yet three of us interns have one thing in common: We are all Jewish. Jillie and Tirza are both Jewish by birth, with Jillie being Israeli and Tirza having a Jewish father, and I am a Jew through conversion. However, each of our perceptions about Judaism are different from the others. Put the fact that we are also millennials and you get a really interesting look at how us three Jews view ourselves. We took this information and decided to make a podcast out of it in which Jillie, Tirza, and I will discuss what being Jewish means to us and how our millennial upbringing and culture has affected it.

The final script took days of writing and editing but it all came together nicely into seven pages which should give us about 10-15 minutes of good conversation.

The final script took days of writing and editing but it all came together nicely into seven pages which should give us about 10-15 minutes of good conversation.

You can probably imagine that the three of us have quite the stories to tell. Coming into this project, I thought that we would all come to at least some similar conclusions in terms of what Judaism means to us. We can all agree that the holidays are fun and tat being Jewish means being part of a much larger community. However, being Jewish means different things for different people. Jillie grew up in an Israeli household so she’s been surrounded by Jewish undertones her whole life. Tirza is from a much more secular household but still celebrates the High Holidays. And then there is me, the convert. For me, my Judaism involves around activities I do by myself and friends. I’m the only Jew in my family so I mainly count on non-family members to help me express my Judaism. That’s basically the gist. We discuss topics ranging from how we feel Jewish to how Judaism may impact our dating lives! Tune in to hear more about how three Jewish millennials see Judaism differently!


 

Coming soon to a podcast near you…Erin and Sara tell all!

By education interns Sara Philippe and Erin Penn

The education interns are at it again, ready to hit the recording studio for the second time. Is the world ready?

The education interns are at it again, ready to hit the recording studio for the second time. Is the world ready?

As Ira Glass begins each episode of his spectacular podcast This American Life…so, what happened? Like Ira Glass, in week nine of our internship, we are now asking ourselves the same question, looking back on this summer with an eye for discovery and recovery. Much like the JMM’s next exhibit of the Iraqi Jewish Archives, we have stories to tell and memories to hold on to as tightly as we can. Our podcast or ‘cast, as the kids these days call them, dives into our lives as interns at the JMM. As education and programs interns, we’ve seen it all. From school groups to flyer design, we have had fun carrying out our tasks and growing a true passion for our department and positions.

After much deliberation, our podcast now has a clear direction and tone. We, creative and energetic folks, struggled picking one idea and bidding adieu to some of the most compelling of them. We sometimes got caught up in our hope to be the next viral hit. But with time no longer on our side, we have put on working gloves and rolled up our sleeves.

All we have left to do is press record. We can’t wait to share the fruits of our labor.

All we have left to do is press record. We can’t wait to share the fruits of our labor.

When considering podcast options, we decided it would be insightful and rewarding for our many listeners to get the inside scoop into what it really means to work in our department with its many varied responsibilities. By giving an overview of our work and experiences, we would be able to share a diverse breadth of information, speaking about some of the most interesting discoveries and highlighting the most compelling aspects of our internship. We are excited to share with our fans (our moms) what really happens. Maybe Ira will listen too!


 

Can’t Touch This: The JMM Collections Intern’s Guide to Navigating the Basement

By collections intern Joelle Paull

In episode 2 we talk about this 1930s art deco Hutzler’s ad.

In episode 2 we talk about this 1930s art deco Hutzler’s ad.

Tasked with creating a podcast, we (the Collections interns) wanted to share what we have been doing this summer. The three short episodes focus on three different aspects of our job and are centered on three different objects in the JMM collection. The most difficult part of the process was figuring out how to form a narrative around objects with listeners not being able to see everything we are talking about. We will of course be posting images of everything we talk about, but we tried to be descriptive and find other ways of engaging listeners.

We are now editing the three episodes and can’t wait to share them. We finished recording this week in our makeshift recording studio, a cart in one of the storage rooms with mics and our office chairs. We had a blast and might have to include a blooper reel. Be sure to check it out next week!


 

Collections Podcast: A Musical Challenge

By collections intern Amy Swartz

The wedding dress we will discuss and describe in our first episode.

The wedding dress we will discuss and describe in our first episode.

Joelle and I are working on creating a podcast about our experience working in Collections, We started out with an idea: focus on three objects and craft a story regarding our experiences around it. We ended up finding it easier to focus on experiences and then pick the objects. We chose to discuss our experience setting up the Just Married: Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland, our time inventorying pictures, and our current job consisting of preparing the Beyond Chicken Soup traveling exhibit for its departure. We then picked relevant objects: a wedding dress, a framed poster, and medicine bottles.

Serial, the podcast I often listen to while doing work in the basement. As Serial is professionally recorded listening to it helped us with our voice inflection and editing.

Serial, the podcast I often listen to while doing work in the basement. As Serial is professionally recorded listening to it helped us with our voice inflection and editing.

We wanted to make sure that our podcast is entertaining and informative so we shared some inside jokes regarding our experiences. For example, sometimes we listen to podcasts while doing work on our computers. I just started listening to Serial so a joke is made how it is a tad creepy to listen to Serial – a story about a murder in Baltimore in the 90s, when alone in the basement. Joelle and I wrote a script and recorded our podcast this week. Now we are on the editing phase. One of the more fun parts about this stage is that we have to pick an intro and outro song that is public domain. We found some cool options so I am excited to pick that out.

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Studying Abroad: Where Museum Personalities Clash

Posted on August 2nd, 2017 by

By collections intern Amy Swartz. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

A few weeks ago we were tasked with reading pieces of John H Falk’s Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience. For our weekly blog post that week, I wrote a bit about my initial reactions to the piece. However, while reading parts of the book I was really struck by his museum visitor’s model as I myself have inhabited those many models at different points in my life. This past spring I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark and had the amazing opportunity to visit many European countries. As someone who loves museums so much that I want to work in one for the rest of my life, all of my trips included some type of museum visit. During these museum visits, depending on which museum I visited and who I was with, my identity flipped and flopped.

Falk’s five identities are explorer, facilitator, experience seeker, professional/hobbyist, and recharger. I am most often an explorer. I go into museums seeking to discover, I pick and chose what I spend my time on, and I often have some background knowledge. When I am with my friends, who are often experience seekers but sometimes explorers, I often am in a semi-facilitator role. I want them to learn and enjoy their visit so that we can actively discuss it. However, while in Europe my identity was in flux. I found that in my experience there are two types of museum experience for those who are studying abroad and traveling: the explorer and the experience seeker.

A ship in the Viking Museum, Oslo, Norway

A ship in the Viking Museum, Oslo, Norway

The explorer traveler finds museums in new cities and decides that a museum visit would be a good way to learn about the city or country’s culture. They go simply because they think it would be a cool experience and are more likely to go to a museum that is either free or has a museum discount rather than an expensive museum. My time in Oslo fits this description. My sister and I did not know what to do in the city, especially since it was rather rainy our whole trip and the city is quite expensive. We bought a museum pass, which was a great purchase and visited the Fram Museum and the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, among others. I approached each visit solely as an explorer. I came in without any expectations or assumptions and simply enjoyed myself and learned a lot.

One of Monet’s Water Lilies Paintings in the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris

One of Monet’s Water Lilies Paintings in the Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris

The experience seeker finds themselves at museums while abroad for the great or well-known works housed inside. They often operate on a limited schedule and work to check certain things off their bucket list The best example of this was my time in Paris. While at the Louvre, my best friend and I saw a lot but we narrowed down our visit to the greats: the Mona Lisa (an obvious choice), the Nike of Samothrace, and the Venus de Milo. We quickly went to the Le Musée de l’Orangerie next, only glancing in some galleries in order to get to Monet’s Water Lilies.

Me and my host sisters in the Kusama exhibit at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

Me and my host sisters in the Kusama exhibit at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

Other museums I visited brought out both personalities. While in Denmark I visited the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art with my visiting host family. Majority of my time there I was an explorer, hungrily consuming information. The Louisiana has an amazing collection and while there I actually saw a lot of works I later learned about in my Women, Art, and Identity course. However, I was also an experience-seeker as there was a well-known exhibit by Yayoi Kusama called Gleaming Lights of the Souls. In that moment I had to see it just to see it and have that experience – it was worth a bit of a wait, which turned out to be nothing based on the wait at the Hirshhorn Museum which had hours long wait lines.

I’ve found that one’s identity at a museum is very dependent on the circumstances of the visit. That’s why it is always beneficial for a museum to cater to multiple identities – which JMM does very well through its various educational programs, exhibits, and lectures.

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