Intern Weekly Response: Reflections

Posted on August 9th, 2018 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 reflect on their internships as a whole. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


Reflections 
From intern Marisa

By the time this reflection is completed and published, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, in conjunction with the Baltimore Jewish Council and the Maryland State Department of Education, will have concluded its 13th annual Summer Teachers Institute. The Summer Teachers Institute strives to provide teachers with the best practices in Holocaust education; it has been an extremely powerful, timely, and poignant workshop so far, with profound discussion and thoughtful questions.

My favorite artifacts in the entire museum are the three Torah scrolls in the ark of the Lloyd Street Synagogue; all three are survivors of the Holocaust.

The conclusion of the Summer Teachers Institute also, however, signals that my internship at the Jewish Museum of Maryland is rapidly, and unfortunately, coming to a close. I’d like to take a few moments to just look back on some of the things that have made this internship so special and unforgettable:

The Sneak Peek
As you might remember, I actually did not earn a degree in museum studies, or exhibit design, or museum management; I studied English, the American Civil War, and Education. This internship has peeled back the curtain on museums and really showed me and allowed me to experience first-hand the inner workings of what it takes to run one of my favorite kinds of cultural institutions.

The Balance
The balance I am referring to is between individual and collaborative work. It is important that employees have the opportunity to produce and shape their own ideas because their creativity could be lost in the fold otherwise. Yet, it is also important to work collaboratively, in which feedback and constructive criticism helps enrich and perfect the product. We strike this balance often in the Education and Programs departments. For instance, I have been working on a self-guided activity book for families to do while exploring the Lloyd Street Synagogue; I created the original activities, but then I received essential feedback from those both inside and outside of the department, that helped identify necessary improvements. This balance helps both produce and polish the programs and experiences we provide our visitors.

The Community
Last, but most importantly is the community. I have had the distinct pleasure and honor to work with incredibly dedicated, passionate, and supportive staff members and volunteers that provided both a space for me to contribute but also a space for me to learn and grow. Working directly with our diverse visitor base illustrated the direct impact of our shared work and vision.

Here I am outside of the National Museum of Natural History with my “flat pal.” Each intern had a flat pal to take pictures with while on our trip to D.C. a few weeks ago; I named mine Harvey.

I am so thankful to have worked on a variety of projects including the Vanishing Elephant, the Summer Teachers Institute, and programming for the Jewish Refugees and Shanghai exhibit; I am so proud to have worked with the Jewish Museum of Maryland this summer!


An Intern’s Reflection
from intern Ash

Our internship is coming to an end. Ten weeks sounded like a lot of time when we first started, but the last month really flew by quickly. As the days go by, I keep thinking about how much left I want to do, but there just isn’t enough time.

As I’ve said in previous blog posts, the project that I have been working on is doing research for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and their upcoming centennial. The project is large, and I’ve been working on small pieces, bit by bit, throughout my internship.  I’ve looked through scrapbooks and newspaper clippings, searching for information about the women of The Associated as well as what campaigns The Associated held to help immigrants during the Holocaust. I’ve edited photos and designed layouts for some of the research topics. I’ve read books and processed scrapbooks. Overall, I’ve explored an array of different ways of researching and documenting information. And throughout all of this, I’ve learned a lot about the Jewish history of Baltimore. There is still a lot of research to be done for this project, but I feel like I’ve gotten to learn a lot about Baltimore history, so I’m proud of what I was able to find.

What my workspace looked like when I was organizing articles about The Associated.

It’s hard to choose a favorite part of the internship, because I had a lot of favorite individual moments and experiences. One of my favorite parts of my research was finding old advertisements or illustrations (and if you want to know more about the illustrations I’ve found, you can find my blog post about them here). I was inspired by a lot of the stories I read and art I saw throughout my research. I also loved processing different scrapbooks and learning about history through a single person’s story, which I also wrote a blog post about, found here. However, my favorite experiences by far were all the field trips we took to museums in the Maryland area. I saw so many ways of conveying history and culture, and experimental approaches that museums were taking when creating their “exhibits.” The Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture showed us what it was like to reimagine a historical museum, and what place a museum can have within a community. They told us about the interactive ways that Baltimoreans told their stories at The Peale, through immersive plays and props, art exhibits, and more. The National Aquarium Animal Care and Rescue Center showed us what it was like to redesign a traditionally private facility into a public museum. There were at least five other museums we visited, but there isn’t enough room to talk about them all.

Illustrations on promotional cards I found through my research on the 1949 Women’s Division of The Associated.

Overall, in this internship I was able to get a taste of what it was like to work in a museum. I got to see the wide range of approaches one can take to museum work, and the different aspects to consider when working at a museum: ethics, accessibility, project management, program planning, and more. Because I was able to work on so many different projects, I also got a feel for what type of work I felt most excited doing. I reaffirmed that I really enjoy the impact of education and storytelling, and how art and interactivity can engage and teach. I’m hoping that I can continue to combine these things in my future jobs and use some of the inspiration I gained in my future artwork as well.

Me at my last week of the internship, helping Alexia with some conservational glueing of ceramic pot shards!

I’m glad that I was able to experience all that the JMM had to offer this summer, and now I’m excited to bring what I learned into the work I do going forward!


My Internship Experience
from intern Alexia

Wao! I can’t believe that it was ten weeks ago when I began my internship at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Time has flown by quick! My experience at the JMM has been incredible. The different experiences that I had before coming to the JMM allowed me to participate in numerous projects in which I was able to improve and learn even more. While at my internship I was able to learn first hand from professionals on the field and see the different facets museums have. I was able to discover the magic that small museums have, which is that when you work in one you can participate in many projects and everyone works as part of the team. This magic is what makes the JMM great. The incredible staff works together with a high-level of professionalism and the goal to bring new exhibits and make the experience of its visitors the best that it can be.

Intern group picture at the Inescapable: The Life & Legacy of Harry Houdini opening.

As the Historical Preservation and Research Intern, throughout the past ten weeks I have been able to work closely with the Director of Collections and Exhibits, Joanna Church, and the Archivist, Lorie Rombo. Under their supervision I was able to work in many projects that include working with translations, archaeological artifacts, developing a catalog for documents for the Lloyd Street Synagogue, and update and reorganized a catalog of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. During my last week at week at the Museum, I’ve begun new projects too! I’m currently researching information for an upcoming small archaeology exhibit and photographing the artifacts that may be exhibited. This week I’ve also been working on reconstructing a pot from the Lloyd Street Synagogue. From all the projects that I’ve work on during the internship, this is one of top favorite ones.  Each project that I worked with Joanna and Lorie was fun, engaging, and interesting. I was able to apply my knowledge while learning new things about a field that I hope to formally join one day.

Reconstructing a pot from the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

From my time in the JMM two of my favorite moments were creating the podcast Untangling and Tangling Feminism & Judaism and the instructional video of how to use the Vanishing Elephant trick of Inescapable: The Life & Legacy of Harry Houdini. Creating the podcast with Ash and Cara was a fun process. From brainstorming ideas, to writing it, and finally recording it, the process was amusing. It was nice to see how all our ideas came together to create a project the three of us are extremely proud of. My favorite part of the process was recording the podcast. While recoding we laughed and made sure to be ourselves.

Editing video of Jennie the Elephant.

At the same time, creating the video for Inescapable was an incredible experience. We filmed the video at the exhibit and demonstrated how to disappear Jennie the Elephant. For the demonstration Ellie was the magician, Marisa oversaw audio, Ash filmed, Cara and I held the script, and at the end of the video I was the magician’s assistant. While filming we had a really good time, and we finished filming quick, which came as a surprise for everyone. After filming the video, I edited it. To edit the video, I used iMovie and was able to put the video together and add fun transitions to the different parts. Because we wanted to be inclusive to our audience, we included on the video captions that I was able to add thanks to Ellie and Marisa’s transcription. The entire experience from start to finish was enjoyable and when we finished the video we were all proud that all our hard work came through.

Intern group picture in Washington DC.

Before I began my internship at the JMM I didn’t know that I was going to participate in as many projects as I did. Having done as many projects as I did during the summer, showed me that I was good at what I like and that there is always new things to learn. During my time in the JMM I felt that my voice and input was important and encouraged. I was also able to meet a remarkable group of professionals who shared their expertise constantly. My experience at the JMM has been undoubtedly incredible and it has been an honor being an intern this summer.


“It’s not goodbye, but see you later”
From intern Cara

Hanging out with these awesome ladies and this cool mastodon puppet at the Peale Center.

Reading my fellow interns’ reflections on their experiences this summer has made me feel prematurely nostalgic about my own internship experience. While the other interns will be leaving me at the end of the week, I’ll be extending my internship through the end of the month to finish up some of the projects I’ve been working on.

I’m so excited to be continuing my internship but I’m really going to miss spending time with and learning from these smart, funny, awesome ladies! We’ve made so many great memories together this summer from field trips to workshops to podcast recordings to parking adventures in downtown Baltimore. They even made the less glamorous side of museum work like cleaning vitrines and moving boxes (and that dang pew) fun.

Artsy flat pal photo shoot during our field trip to the National Gallery.

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Journey to the National Aquarium Animal Care and Research Center

Posted on August 8th, 2018 by

Blog post by JMM intern Alexia M. Orengo Green. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

As an intern in the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I have been to various field trips to several museums in the Baltimore and Washington DC area. On these field trips I have been able to learn various aspects about the museum filed and everything that entitles working in them. From all the field trips that we went to this summer, my favorite one has been the visit to the National Aquarium Animal Care and Research Center. I know, you must be wondering, what does a Care and Research Center have to do with museums? In reality it has to do a LOT.

Pig turtle.

The National Aquarium Animal Care and Research Center officially opened its doors on May 2018. The building contains the National Aquarium’s exhibit fabrication space, water production equipment, and doubles the capacity to care for rescued animal. From the moment we arrived at the Center we were told that this Rehabilitation Center was different from the rest. In contrast with other Centers, which the public has either limited or no access to it, the building was design to have visitors. The National Aquarium wanted people to feel welcomed to a space where they can learn about a lot of aspects from the Aquarium that often go behind the scenes.

The sense of welcomeness to the public can be felt from the moment one steps through the front door. The space has an open feel and invites the curiosity of the visitor. In the lobby of the Center one of the first things one notices is the large vitrine that allows visitors to see into the production area. The production area has various functions, which include creating and fixing exhibits, producing new features for the exhibits, and creating toys for the different animals they have in the Aquarium and the Center. To be able to make the exhibits for the animals the manufacturers must do intensive research to recreate the environments of the ocean with materials that are durable. The toys the manufacturers create also require research and are made to challenge the animal. An example we were giving during our visit was a crab that was being created for an octopus. The octopus was going to have to open the crab to “hunt” for his food. Once the octopus has master how to open the crab, the mechanics would be changed to continue challenging him.

Long neck turtle.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the lobby its the classroom where visiting groups receive information about the work that is happening in the Center. There they are given an introduction and talked about the different journeys of the animal that they have in the Center. To do this, the care takers recreate the process in which the animals arrive to the center and what happens to them once they are there. Each person is given a card with the information and name of one of the animals on the Center, and they are responsible for the care of that animal. While the groups are being toured around the building, they learn about the proper care of the animals they were assigned require. They are also given the opportunity to “recreate” one of the procedures that vets do to make sure the animals that just arrived are healthy. Through “recreating” the procedure the visitors can see that no animal is small enough for veterinarian attention.

Caiman.

One of the main parts of the tour of the Center are the exhibits. Each panel was thoughtfully created to explain the different types of works that are done in the center. All the panels were made in the production side of the Center and can be easily adapted depending on the information that is displaced. An example of one of the ways in which they were able to make the panels adaptable is the one regarding the care of the seals. The panel has pictures of the seals that have been on the Center that can be easily changed if a new seal arrives. They also have clipboards containing the information of each seal. The panels also have a bag that contains interactive objects to facilitate the learning experience for visitors. The bag of the seals’ panel has an example of what they would use to rehydrate seals when they arrive to the center.

For our tour we were able to see the lab and kitchen where the care takers make the food for each animal in the center. But for me, the must exciting part of the tour was seeing the animals that were on rehabilitation.  The center has two caimans, fishes, and turtles! As a big turtle fan, you can say I was extremely happy when I saw them. The care takers talked about their diet and care while they are in the center. They also talked about how each animal has its own personality and their individual journey. It was incredible to see these animals receiving the care they need and establishing a connection with them when visiting the center.

Long neck turtle and pig turtle.

The connection that one stablishes with the animals that are on the Center makes the visitor more compelled to learn about the different ecosystems and animals. But the Center is not the only place that has been able to create that experience for their visitors. The Cincinnati Zoo has been able to establish a strong connection between its visitors and their baby hippo Fiona. Through social media the zoo has been able to share moments from Fiona’s life that otherwise would not be available for the public. I, for example, have never been to Cincinnati but I would love to go just to see Fiona. Ever since I first heard about Fiona, I have learned several hippo facts that I didn’t know before. The effect that the Cincinnati Zoo has achieved with their hippo Fiona is one that the National Aquarium Care and Research Center can achieve through its tours.

Even though the Care and Research center is not a typical museum in contains many aspects that normal museums have. The architecture and design of the building was created for receiving visitors, which is one of the reasons why the building feels inviting. The production area gives the visitors the chance to see a behind the scenes look into how the exhibits of the aquarium are created and how thorough the process is. The building is created to teach its visitors about the ocean wild life, how is being affected today, and what they can do to help it.

Many thanks to Adam Nelson, Jessica Young, and Candice Canady for facilitating our special tour of the center!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Intern Weekly Response: Exhibit Reviews

Posted on July 12th, 2018 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 visit a different museum on their own and review an exhibit. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


The Chesapeake Heritage Center

~Intern Marisa Shultz

If you’ve ever driven on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and finally (after the toll plaza and traffic) landed on the other side, you’ve been on Kent Island, Maryland’s first English settlement and a seafood lover’s paradise. I’ve lived on Kent Island just about three years now and have always been a great deal curious as to it’s colonial, antebellum, and modern history, so I took a trip over to the Chesapeake Heritage Center to check out its fantastic view and learn a little more about the place I’ve been calling home.

What a gorgeous view!

The historical exhibition itself, while logically grouped into general categories, is a bit of a cabinet of curiosities. Rather than have one central theme or a rotating exhibit, the Heritage Center, likely due to its limited room, tries to tackle multiple topics in one general space; the topics range from the ecology of the bay, the pivotal role of the bay in the War of 1812, local microhistories, and the everchanging modes of transportation.

It was the section on transportation that drew me in the most. Split into three sections (trains, ferries, and cars), this part of the exhibit was filled with a variety of historical photos; they depicted maps, construction, mortgage bonds, and people.

This picture illustrates Ruth Weston, a Chesapeake Bay Bridge Toll Sargent, and the various items people use to pay for the bridge toll, including a fire hydrant, a wedding band, and radios.

In the photo above, the Heritage Center gives a glimpse of Ruth Weston’s career as a Toll Sargent and raises a great deal of questions: What was it like being a woman working the toll booth in the early days of the bay bridge? Was it legal for her to accept objects as a form of payment for the toll? Who wanted to cross the bridge so badly that they left their wedding band? While the exhibit does not attempt to try and answer these questions, it does certainly spark interest.

The transportation section also had artifacts that gave an additional layer. Of personal interest was a program from the dedication of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (if you’re interested in celebrating with a trip to the Eastern shore, the anniversary is on June 30th). Symbolically placed, the program was put overtop of a photo of a family in a car on the bridge waving at people on the local ferry, representing the passing of the torch from ferries to cars.

This is one of the original programs from the Dedication Ceremony of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

While certainly not explicitly stated, if I had to draw a narrative connecting the variety of topics in the exhibit, I would say that the theme is the change, whether it be natural or forced modernization, that has come to the Chesapeake Bay and its communities in the past 100 years. I learned about how our shorelines have shifted from prehistory to today, how the ferries have died out, and how the chemical makeup of the Chesapeake Bay has changed. However, I am a lover of details, dates, and names, and I found myself yearning for greater informational depth in an exhibit that is certainly covered in terms of informational breadth. Overall, I would say the exhibit is a good primer for those with a budding interest in our history, or those just passing through on a sunny Friday while on the way to the beach.


Carroll County Farm Museum

~Intern Justine “Ellie” Smith

I went to visit the Carroll County Farm Museum for this week’s blog post. The Farm Museum actually began as the almshouse for Carroll County. Tenants at the almshouse would work on the farm and in other trades. The farm house is set up with period items from the late 1700s to the 1900s. Visitors can see a variety of objects while visiting to the farm house.

The bedrooms have trundle beds and traditional mattress ticking. There are handmade quilts and canopies over the beds, and in the children’s room there are handmade toys. One thing that I have never seen or noticed in historic home were small vents with pull chains. These were like old fashioned air conditioning. A docent explained that the vents were used to cool the room in the summer. When it was too hot the occupants simply pulled the chain and let air into the room which would create an air current throughout the house. The day I visited there were not any guided tours but docents were around the entire house in period dress to answer any questions.

After making your way through the farm house you cross a small covered bridge which leads to the tenant apartments from the almshouse. Each of the rooms is set up to reflect a different craft or aspect of life in the 1800s-1900s. There was a quilt making room and a sewing room. A kitchen and a tin shop. My two favorite rooms were the veterinarian’s office and the children’s room.

I never had thought about vets existing during the 1800 and 1900s. The vets during this period would have been concerned with working with larger animals like horses and cattle but when formal education for vets became common practice smaller domesticated animals like dogs and cats found their way into the vet’s office. This room had a variety of instruments like glass bottles that once held ingredients for medicines, a scale, and syringes in various sizes. One cabinet had tools of the trade as well as skulls of horses, a fetal calf in a jar, and a heart of a dog that had worms. There was also a taxidermy two headed calf on the wall (though it was not clear if this was real or fabricated). Veterinarians are not something I think of when I think of farms or almshouses so seeing this room was really special and very interesting.

My other favorite room was the children’s please touch room. Because I have been working in the education department at the JMM I am always interested to see how other institutions engage children that visit. Everything in this room could be touched and interacted with.

There were examples of cans and dry goods bags that one would find at a general store. There was a scale that would have been used to weigh out goods to buy. One section of the room had antique post office boxes and postcards that the children could write and address to their homes and the museum would send them. In another corner there was a coloring area and the coloring pages were all images from the museum. There was an area where children could dress up in clothes from the period and could interact with the space. There was also a small reading area for kids. I thought this area was fabulous. It engaged with children of all ages. There was something for any age child to do and connect with in this space. Parents could enjoy watching their children connect with history in a safe environment and not have to worry about them breaking anything or touching something they were not supposed to. I think that more museums should have more spaces where children can get hands on with the history around them.

After leaving the almshouse there are several other outbuildings which can be explored. I did not realize how large of a museum this was before I went. I recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes because there is a lot of ground to cover. In the other building there is antique farm equipment and displays explaining how slaughter houses worked and how cider was pressed. Another interactive part of the museum is the blacksmiths shop. There was a blacksmith demonstration occurring when I was there. It is truly amazing to see this ancient art being practiced. When you walk behind the blacksmith’s shop and follow the path you come across the farm animals that live at the museum. There were ducks, geese, baby pigs and goats, and the two largest residents are oxen.

The Carroll County Farm Museum provides a unique learning experience that goes beyond the normal historic home tour. There is something for everyone to see at this museum and something for everyone to connect with. The Farm Museum goes out of its way to be family friendly and has areas specifically designed with children in mind. I learned a lot about the history of Carroll County and about how farms operated. There is so much to see at the Carroll County Farm Museum and I will definitely have to go back to make sure I can take it all in.

More information about the Museum can be found here.


Medicine and Soda Fountains: The Pharmacy at the Baltimore Museum of Industry

~Intern Ash Turner

Within the Baltimore Museum of Industry, a small pharmacy sits with its wooden doors wide open. Although this old-school pharmacy no longer serves customers, it immerses its visitors into the history and evolution of Baltimore pharmacies. Complete with a soda bar, a register, and cabinets filled with jars and medicinal ingredients, I was taken in by how charming it was to step back in time for a little while during my museum visit.

Picture of the Pharmacy “storefront.” Above the door is a green-striped awning and a “Geo A. Bunting, Druggist” sign. Window displays sit on the left and right side of the door.

Reflection of me in the soda bar mirror as I take a picture of the exhibit’s bar.

I enjoyed that this exhibit was more of an immersive environment rather than a traditional exhibit. The Pharmacy had only a few captions, preferring to leave the visitors’ curiosity with the items themselves. The captions and descriptions that were included were placed either in the window displays near the door, or at the front of the room, so that they didn’t interrupt the immersive space created. For me, leaving the space mostly free of curatorial text painted a better picture of how an old pharmacy might have looked, and it helped the room feel like it was an actual storefront.

Photo taken while looking in from the Pharmacy’s front door toward the right side of the room. Pictured from left to right: A display of cameras in a cabinet, a metal register, and a wooden medicine cabinet.

Close-up photo of pharmacist mixing tools.

I felt steeped in the time period and culture, rather than feeling like I was just reading about the period, which is an experience I feel is unique to museum installations. I also tend to read everything in museum exhibits, so the few placards and posters included in the Pharmacy provided me with the perfect amount of information to digest in a single viewing. Overall, I enjoyed how the exploration of this space was left up to me as a visitor, because I found it intriguing and inspiring to step into this space and let my curiosity lead the way.


Odyssey: Jack Whitten Sculpture, 1963-2017

~Intern Alexia Orengo Green

Having only been in the city of Baltimore a little over a month, one of the places I was extremely thrilled to visit was the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA). At the Museum, I had the opportunity to visit the new exhibit Odyssey of Jack Whitten’s work. The exhibit displays the evolution of Whitten’s work since 1963 to 2017, through personal items that belonged to Whitten, Whitten’s stories, and sculptures. By doing this, the visitor connects with the art, and has a glimpse of Whitten’s working process. The exhibit is divided on three parts: Whitten’s early work, Greece, and Black Monolith series. Odyssey serves as biography and memorial for the late artist, who died on January 20, 2018.

At the beginning of the exhibit the visitor is presented with Whitten’s early sculptures, which the Civil Rights Movement heavily influenced. From his early works, one of the must striking sculptures is Homage to Malcom, which he dedicated to Malcom X. This piece is completely asymmetrical and combines different techniques and materials, which make the piece even more powerful.

Homage to Malcom. Via The Art Newspaper.

The first room of the exhibit also contains a large picture of Whitten’s studio, allowing the visitor to see where Whitten created his art and got his inspiration from. This photo in conjunction with his personal notes, allow the visitor to see the process Whitten followed when creating his sculptures. Having a picture of Whitten’s studio and reading his personal notes also forms a bond between Whitten, his art, and the visitor.

Jack Whitten’s studio wall. Via BMA.

Because his wife had family in Greece, Whitten spend a great amount of his time there. An anecdote that stayed with me after the exhibit was regarding Whitten’s first visit to Greece. There, he dreamed with a large piece of wood, which he later found during his stay and created a sculpture. The stories behind Whitten’s work and the Greek sculptures from Minoan and Mycenean Greece that are found through the exhibit, transport the visitor to Whitten’s experiences there.

The third part of the exhibit focuses on the Black Monolith series Whitten created. Whitten’s series contrast heavily with the rest of the exhibit because of the dark and vibrant colors they have. The most striking piece of the series is Atopolis: For Édouard Glissant. To create this piece, Whitten layered paint to make it look as it were small tile pieces. Atopolis is Greek for “without place.” The tittle of the piece contrasts with the scene that is shown. Atopolis depicts an aerial view of a city, from its main hub to the more spread out areas.  The large piece attracts the attention of the visitor from the moment they enter the room.

Atopolis: For Édouard Glissant

Odyssey is a spectacular exhibit that showcases the work of a significant artist that was able to influence the world through his art.

Be sure to visit the exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art!


House & Home

~Intern Cara Bennet

The National Building Museum’s permanent exhibit, “House and Home,” employs various exhibition techniques to help visitors explore the various social and cultural meanings and connotations of the American “home.” The exhibit utilizes several components including objects, photographs, models, film, timelines, maps, and text panels. These various components make the exhibit accessible to people with different learning styles by allowing them to focus on the aspects of the exhibit that interest them the most. The variety of exhibition techniques also keep the audience engaged by preventing the monotony of an exhibit solely comprised of a single component.

The primary purpose of the exhibit is to convey how a house becomes a home and show what “home” means to a diverse group of Americans. For the most part, this message is successfully conveyed throughout the exhibit. The first room features walls of photographs that depict different families and their homes and the various activities that take place in their homes. The theme of diversity carries on into the next room which features a wall of household objects and includes many multi-cultural objects such as a mezuzah, a tortilla press, and an Islamic prayer rug. This theme is reiterated on the left side of the room which features full scale models of different construction methods which exemplify just some of the many diverse styles of American homes. The models of iconic houses in the center of the room such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” also emphasize the variety of American homes and highlight houses that were the first to experiment with certain construction techniques and designs.

Model of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic home “Falling Water.” Image via.

“House and Home” is an object driven exhibit. The highlight of the exhibit and the section visitors appeared to be most drawn to is the wall of household objects. These are objects that are familiar to most visitors and evoke an emotional or nostalgic response. At first glance these objects appeared to be displayed randomly. The objects had no context and were displayed next to objects from different time periods. For example, a beanbag chair from the 1980s was displayed next to a slipper chair from the 1850s. At first, I found this arrangement confusing and frustrating but once I realized that the objects were organized by room (i.e. kitchen, yard, living room) I gained a greater appreciation for the display and the message the curators were trying to convey. Throughout history and across social lines people have chosen to furnish their homes with objects that represent themselves and their pasts. These ordinary objects reflect their owners’ ideals, values, and aspirations. Objects and houses represent the lives of the people who own them.

The Object Wall. Image via.

While most of the objects in this section are familiar and easily recognized by the audience, label panels below the objects provide context and authenticity. Each label panel features a basic drawing of the outline of each object which is numbered and corresponds to the text label which briefly describes the object and its provenance. Unlike the dollhouses and the model houses, the objects in this section are not displayed behind glass. The only barrier between the visitor and the objects is a low wall and a few feet of space. The lack of glass could indicate that these objects are less important than most museum objects, however this was an intentional decision on the part of the curators and exhibit designers. The lack of glass makes these objects more accessible. These objects are everyday objects that visitors already have a connection to and displaying these objects openly increases the visitors’ connection to the objects by giving them the sense that they can reach out and touch them.

“House and Home” is a fairly accessible exhibit. The flow of the exhibit is clear and linear. Each room flows into the next room preventing the visitor from getting lost or confused. The objects and models in the exhibit are arranged so that they can easily be seen by all visitors. The dollhouses in the first room of the exhibit are encased in glass and placed in the center of the room so that visitors can easily move around them to view the rooms from different angles. Similarly, the models of iconic houses which are displayed in the next room are placed in the middle of the room and are low to the ground allowing children and visitors in wheelchairs to view them more easily.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Next Page »