JMM Insights: Dear Abby – The Mendes Cohen Edition

Posted on September 12th, 2014 by

Dear Abby,

My wife and I have an unfortunate tendency of putting things off—even past the last minute, sometimes! It’s quite a problem in our lives, as you might imagine. But what saddens us the most is when we just barely miss seeing an exhibit at the JMM.  And it’s always like that—we came to see the Civil War exhibit just a month after it closed, and we came to see The Electrified Pickle just one week after that closed.

We really don’t want to miss this next one—the Mendes Cohen exhibit—so, for once in my life, I’m going to (gulp!)…plan ahead! Unfortunately, my wife and I will be out of town this weekend, when the exhibit opens. I hope the exhibit will be here for more than just a few weeks! Please tell me, how long will the Mendes exhibit be on display?

And while I’m asking about it, could you clarify for me what the exhibit will be like? Nothing against mazes, but that sounds like the exhibit is geared more towards kids than adults. Is that true?

Thanks for your help!

Always A Little Late 

 

Dear Always Late,

I can certainly relate to procrastinating every once in awhile (OK, maybe it’s a little more than just “once in a while”!). Fortunately, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen is going to be with us for a long time. We will have the exhibit on display here for a whole nine months! It opens this Sunday, September 14, 2014 (just in time for the Star Spangled Spectacular celebrations), and it will close on Sunday, June 14, 2015. That should give you plenty of time to plan a visit here. Also, if you are on our email mailing list, you will receive several reminders each month of all the wonderful public programs we’ll be having.

We always strive to have something for everybody in our exhibits, and this is no exception. The Mendes exhibit includes both artifacts and thoughtful content about the life of Mendes Cohen in the context of what was happening in Baltimore, in the country, and in the world. While history is not always enough to capture the attention of some, we hope that the interactives scattered throughout the maze (and the very concept of the maze itself) will do the trick.

See you soon (I hope)!

Abby

Deborah and Ilene hard at work!

Deborah and Ilene hard at work!

Editor’s note: The following letter to Dear Abby arrived in the form of a telegram. We have reproduced the message as authentically as possible. We previously had no idea telegrams were still possible.

TO: DEAR ABBY

FROM: MRS. JACOB B. FANCYPANTS, III.

MESSAGE: Have not yet received my pass to the members opening [STOP] Not a member, but should be OK [STOP] You know who I am, right? [STOP] Will be on 0500 train from NYC Fashion Wk. to Balt. Penn [STOP] Am looking forward to private tour of Mendes exhibit [STOP] Pls. confirm w/my P.A. at jane.smithATgmail.com [STOP] Thanks [STOP] Ta! [STOP]

END OF MESSAGE

 

Dear Ms. Smith,

I received the telegram from your boss, Mrs. Jacob B. Fancypants. Wow, who knew you could still send a telegram? It must be really interesting being her personal assistant. But I digress…

Please inform Mrs. Fancypants that, while the opening is only open to current members of the JMM, she is more than welcome to—in fact she is encouraged to—buy a membership when she arrives at the Museum. We will be happy to have her at our event!

While the exhibit, with its small spaces, does not lend itself easily to docent-led tours, groups may call in advance (to me) by at least a week to book a docent to take them through. However, I believe that the exhibit has so much detail and information that walk-in visitors who self-guide through the maze will come out with just as rich an experience. Additionally, we are developing a special tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue in honor of the Mendes exhibit. Because Mendes Cohen and his family were always at the forefront of using the latest technologies available, the tour will shed light on technological firsts in Baltimore and at the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

This tour will take the place of the 3:00pm tour and will debut on November 9, 2014.

I hope the two of you will be able to come to our members’ opening this Sunday evening, and many other programs as well! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if either of you have any questions (though perhaps email or phone would be easier than telegram.)

Best Wishes,

Abby

Mendes Intro Panel_v4

Dear Abby,

All my life, I have been inexorably  drawn to the intricacies of the physics of the time-space continuum, and over the years, I’ve become a self-educated expert on the topic. Therefore, I was delighted to hear that your museum will be displaying an exhibit dedicated to the truly extraordinary life of Mendes I. Cohen.

You are probably wondering right now what does Mendes I. Cohen have to do with the time-space continuum. And well you might ask that! This unique individual has come to my attention through my studies because of his uncanny appearances all over time and space. Not only is he present at the pivotal Battle of Baltimore in 1814, but he also serves as president of the Maryland Historical Society in the early 1900s. Since he was born in 1796, that would make him at least 104 years old at the start of his tenure at the historical society—a feat that was virtually impossible in those days! It is my belief, then, that Mendes I. Cohen was—or rather, is—a time traveller.

I am further supported in my belief by other “impossible” sightings: just last weekend, he was sighted at the anniversary celebrations of the Battle of North Point, and I have reason to believe, from careful scrutiny of contemporary photographs, that he was present at the assassination of President John F. Kennedy! There is clearly something very mysterious about Mendes I. Cohen. In fact, he will be the subject of my next scholarly book, Mendes I. Cohen: Secrets of the Universe and its Time Travelling Assassin, which will—fingers crossed!—be published sometime next year. You will probably hear from me then about having a book talk at the museum. (Please see attachment with 1000 page excerpt from the manuscript.)

In the mean time, I would be much obliged if I could request some assistance from you. Judging from the level of detail contained in your exhibit, it would seem that you have some special connection or knowledge of Mendes I. Cohen and his whereabouts. Again, I would be much obliged if you would arrange a tête à tête for the two of us. We have so much to discuss! When we do have this meeting, is it permissible to take photographs? It would be purely for purposes of scientific evidence, I assure you.

Sincerely,

Doc D. Lorean 

 

Dear Doc,

While your theory about Mendes Cohen is fascinating, I must point out at least one part of your argument that I know to be incorrect. The Mendes Cohen who was president of the Maryland Historical Society is not the same Mendes Cohen who fought in the Battle of Baltimore—the former was the nephew of the latter! It can be very confusing when close relatives have identical names, so the mistake is an understandable one.

Barring a sèance, I probably can’t arrange a meeting between you and the real Mendes Cohen. Probably. What I can do, however, is arrange a performance of our living history character version of Mendes Cohen, played by the very talented Grant Cloyd. Mendes Cohen has joined our lively lineup of living history characters based on real Baltimoreans, including Ida Rehr, Saul Bernstein, and Bessie Bluefeld. Each of them can be hired to perform a one act play based on their lives that lasts about 45 minutes (with 15 minutes for questions) for either adult or school age audiences.  They can also be hired to walk around in character at an event. If you want to book them, or just find out more information, please contact me and I will do my best to help you!

Photography at these performances is generally allowed—though please don’t use flash as that can disturb the actor. At the exhibit here at the Museum, it’s a similar guideline (photography without flash is allowed), with a few exceptions: the case of Egyptian antiquities, the travel documents, and the passport are all items that we have borrowed from other museums, and so we cannot give general permission to photograph them.

I hope this was helpful to you. I look forward to reading your book when it comes out!

Best Wishes,

Abby

_RWK3797

Greetings and Salutations Mmlle. Abigail,

I sincerely wish you do not think me too forward for sending you a letter without a formal introduction, but I am told that you are the one to approach on matters regarding visiting the Jewish Museum of Maryland and its lovely souvenir and books shop. Although Baltimore is my homeland, these days I am but a weary traveler of many places and dimensions, and am no different than the majority of tourists who enjoy collecting mementos from the various stops on their journeys.

Word has reached my ears that your historical establishment is about to present an exhibition dedicated to the life and works of one Mendes Cohen (or have you done so already? Forgive me, I sometimes get confused about this sort of thing). I must confess, I am unusually familiar with this particular character, and I would care to have some memento of his new-found general notoriety.

If it would please you to catalog the items relating to Mr. Cohen that will be for sale in your shop for the duration of the exhibition, I would be most grateful. In addition to a desire to expand my own collection of sentimental trinkets, I believe that it never hurts to have a store of potential gifts for future occasions.

Ever your humble friend,

M.C.

 

Dear M.C.,

Of course I don’t think you’re too forward! I receive letters, emails, and phone calls from perfect strangers all the time. It’s just part of my job.

I would be happy to tell you all of The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen themed items we will be selling in the giftshop. Esther, our gift shop manager, is very excited about our offerings! We’ll have early 19th century children’s toys and games as well as a more modern artistic take on Mendes Cohen in paper doll form. Going off of the maze aspect of the exhibit, we will be selling maze games for all ages—several of them are 3D mazes, and one even has lasers!

For those who think they’re too old for games and lasers (not sure who could possibly be too old for lasers, but I’m sure they’re out there somewhere!), we’ll be offering the special opportunity to buy a vintage edition of our publication, Generations, which includes an article by Dr. Deborah Weiner on the life of Mendes Cohen.

And, most excitingly, we will be selling beautiful mugs with the exhibit logo and an image of the flag that Mendes Cohen made to hoist on his boat as he floated down the Nile. This is not an item you can get off Amazon.com!

Hopefully, at least one of these items will tickle your fancy or strike you as a worthy gift for someone!

Happy Travels, my friend!

Yours Truly,

Abby

Mendes-Blue-Rim-Handle-Mug-v2

abby krolikDear Abby is written by our Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. To read more posts from Abby, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Farewell to the Pickle!

Posted on August 20th, 2014 by

Pickle_logo4

 

 

There once was a pickle I knowed,

Through which electricity flowed.

Though the smell was horrendous,

The applause was tremendous,

‘Cause that little pickle’s tuches glowed!

 

 

The Pickle’s stay was short but sweet. Our exhibition team has worked quickly to take down the exhibit.

The Pickle’s stay was short but sweet. Our exhibition team has worked quickly to take down the exhibit.

An interesting but probably little known fact about The Electrified Pickle is that the #1 Favorite Item in the exhibit amongst schoolage children who visited was not the nightmare-inducing permanent wave machine, but the humble ice tongs! #ThanksFrozen.

(If I had a quarter for every time a child started singing or humming “Let It Go” while in the exhibit, I’d have a dollar or two.)

(If I had a quarter for every time a child started singing or humming “Let It Go” while in the exhibit, I’d have a dollar or two.)

abby krolikA poetic blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. To read more posts from Abby click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Kicking off the Electrified Pickle!

Posted on July 16th, 2014 by

You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a room full of little kids jump off their seats to go inhale from a smoking beaker full of blue liquid—that may have, if my memory serves me well, been described as “carbon dioxide burps.”

Kids and adults alike had a grand time at our opening for The Electrified Pickle! Although the smoking beaker of blue liquid didn’t happen until the end of the event, with the spectacular Extreme Jean show, the whole day was full of new experiences for our visitors.

More than just a pencil...graphite is a great conductor!

More than just a pencil…graphite is a great conductor!

From 11am to 3pm, we had three stations set up for experimental demonstrations that showcased the myriad ways to harness electricity through common household items. Our wonderful volunteers from the world of engineering made pencils into sliding light dimmer switches, potatoes into batteries, and, yes, pickles into glowing sources of light (and smell)!

Look at that pickle glow!

Look at that pickle glow! Many thanks to “In A Pickle” for donating these de-LIGHT-ful dills!

In addition to the demonstrations, we had hands-on stations where visitors could “get stuck in” conductive and insulating play dough and origami flowers and frogs that lit up with the help of LEDs and batteries.

Testing the difference between insulating and conductive play dough.

Testing the difference between insulating and conductive play dough.

Creating light up flower boxes!

Creating light up flower boxes!

GirlsRISEnetLogoBigSome of the funding that helped us put together the activities for the day came from a grant awarded to us by GirlsRise Net—an organization dedicated to encouraging girls to become interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.  There was no way we were passing up the opportunity to combine a day dedicated the power of electricity with Girl Power! Fortunate for us, the Baltimore metropolitan area has a wide network of female scientists and engineers, which we tapped into for volunteers to help explain the science behind the demonstrations. While we didn’t want to exclude boys from the day’s activities, we did want to strike an emphasis on the presence of women in science and engineering fields.

Potatoes as....batteries? Yup!

Potatoes as….batteries? Yup!

Inside the exhibit itself, visitors of all ages delighted in trying out scientific interactives that we had borrowed from one of our partners, the National Electronics Museum.

Checking out the interactives on loan from the National Electronics Museum.

Checking out the interactives on loan from the National Electronics Museum.

They're fun (and fascinating) for everyone!

They’re fun (and fascinating) for everyone!

MECU-Neighborhood_0At 5pm, we transitioned from our daytime activities to our evening Electrified Pickle Community Kick-off Party, generously supported by a MECU Neighborhood grant! We started the evening with the scientific stylings of Extreme Jean. She demonstrated some wacky aspects of science, such as manipulating air streams to enable her to fill out a 5 foot plastic bag with just one breath. And what science show would be complete without having some fun with dry ice?

Fun with dry ice!

Fun with dry ice!

It's a scientific playground with Extreme Jean!

It’s a scientific playground with Extreme Jean!

After the show, representatives from another one of our partners, Mosaic Makers, got us started on our community art project. With a little help from our friends and visitors, we will be making a mosaic that will be used to decorate our newest building at 5 Lloyd St. The mosaic will be out for visitors to add to for the next 5 weeks, as we continue with The Electrified Pickle.

Hard at work on our neighborhood mosaic!

Hard at work on our neighborhood mosaic!

Come check out the exhibit and more exciting workshops and demonstrations this Sunday, with Print This! For more information about the day and about the following three Sundays, check out the “Events” section of our website!

PRINT THIS! on Sunday, July 20th, 11am - 3pm.

abby krolikA blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. For more posts by Abby, click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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