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.

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Intern Weekly Response: Podcast Nation

Posted on June 28th, 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 select a museum-related podcast and share their reviews, in preparation for creating their own podcast episodes later in the summer. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


Podcast: American Icons

Intern Alexia M. Orengo Green

As someone who recently got interested in podcasts this week’s response was fun because it gave me the opportunity to find new shows. Podcasts can be an informal and fun way to learn about a certain subject on your way to work, while on the train, or even while cooking dinner. This week I discovered the podcast American Icons by Studio 360 on WNYC. As the tittle indicates, this podcast explores several American Icons and how they became icons. The podcast goes from explaining more serious topics such as the Lincoln Memorial to less formal topics such as The Wizard of Oz. This ratio of topics makes the podcast appeal to a greater audience and gives more options to its listeners.

The Wizard of Oz Theatrical Poster. Image via Wikimedia Commons

American Icons is a well-done podcast that explains its different topics in an informal academic way. By doing this the audience feels its learning something new, but not taking a lecture. Another aspect of the podcast I enjoyed is how it interacts with the audience asking them questions, sparking curiosity, and challenging their knowledge. American Icons also makes historical connections to the episode’s topic, an example being Superman and the Jewish community that immigrated to America.

Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman, son of Jewish immigrants that arrived in the United States in 1900. Image via Wikimedia Commons

 The podcast also incorporates the social factors that influenced America to create icons. An example of this would be the controversy surrounding the Vietnam Memorial. The controversy arose because of the anti-war sentiment the Vietnam War had and the proposal that was selected for the memorial. This memorial sparked sentiment and forced people to have a conversation about the war. The memorial is made of a black granite wall, in which visitors can see their reflection. In the memorial, the names written on the wall are on the order from the first soldier that died during the war to the last. This memorial was the first one of its kind making it and American icon. The podcast tangles perfectly the historical and social factors making the listener connect with the story.

Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC. Image via Wikimedia Commons

American Icons explains different aspects of American history in a thought-provoking way. The podcast brings different topics to the 21st century and allows its listeners to connect to different stories. This show connects historical, cultural, and social factors while appealing to a large audience.


Museum Podcasts, Visitor Engagement, and Accessibility

Intern Cara Bennet

Admission fees, location, and hours shouldn’t prevent people from accessing all the information that museums have to offer. Museum podcasts are a great solution to this problem. They allow people to learn from and engage with a museum for free whenever it’s convenient for them. Podcasts connect students living in remote locations like Alaska or Hawai’i to museums in Washington, D.C. despite time differences or their ability to travel. Podcasts give museums the opportunity to highlight certain objects in their collections and the roles of various staff members, discuss important issues in the museum field, and to promote upcoming exhibits and public programs. Podcasts also help museums keep visitors engaged by educating and continuing conversations long after they’ve left the museum.

The International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

This past week I’ve been listening to “Spycast” a podcast produced by the International Spy Museum. While I’ve been to the Spy Museum a few times before, I’ve already learned so much more about the museum and its collections from the podcast. Episodes feature interviews with authors, historians, and intelligence professionals. Some of my favorite episodes I’ve listened to so far are interviews with former intelligence professionals, particularly women that got started in the CIA in its early days as an agency. Listening to their first-hand accounts is fascinating and not necessarily something visitors could experience by just visiting the museum.

The episode of “Spycast” I’m listening to as I write this blog post.


Spies, Covert Ops, and Secrets, Oh My!

Intern Marisa Shultz

Admittedly, I have always been a bit iffy on podcasts. I am such a visual person that I even prefer to watch television and movies with subtitles, and I have had my fair share of run-ins with podcasts so poorly done that they have taken an interested topic and made it utterly boring. But, I have been pleasantly surprised, actually, way more than pleasantly surprised by SpyCast, put together by the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C.. One of the greatest beauties of the program is that the project began in 2006 and has had weekly installments since 2015, so for someone just discovering this gem, there are many episodes to explore and lots of content to learn. Also due to the series length, if a particular episode does not interest you, there are so many more to choose from.

However, it would be challenging to find an uninteresting episode, for the podcast prides itself on telling unusual and fascinating stories about a corner of history often shrouded in deceit and shadow.

While the scope of the show may be somewhat limited due to its subject (governmental intelligence, espionage, and their implications) the podcast covers a great deal of ground, both historical and modern, within that scope. From the Pope’s spies in World War II to the Pentagon Papers and everything in between both micro and macro, SpyCast covers it all.

While the extent of content and number of episodes is a huge bonus for the podcast, there are two major reasons it works so well. For one, the guests they choose to interview are always experts (often with recently published books) or individuals who have experience in the intelligence or espionage fields; the guests are always well-spoken, interesting, and insightful too.

The other reason is the podcast’s host: Dr. Vince Houghton.

Dr. Houghton does an excellent job at maintaining the programs energy and keeping the conversation flowing. He asks insightful questions that encourage the speakers to share their thoughts and experiences, and while he may tell a short anecdote from time to time, he largely allows the spotlight to be on the guest. Overall, I would say that SpyCast has found a formula that works brilliantly!


Nostalgic Tales from The Memory Palace

Intern Ash Turner

With a name like The Memory Palace, it’s easy to get a sense of what type of podcast you’ll be listening to: an artful sound piece, with swaying background music, and someone describing something to you as if it is his memory. Sleepy, wistful music was an apt choice for the background sound in the first episode I listened to, “Dreamland.”

“Dreamland at twilight, Coney Island, N.Y.” from the Library of Congress

In this episode, you hear a low voice, as if a bedtime story is being read to you, and you are slipping into sleep, mixing what is a dream with what is reality. But what is being told really happened, and you’re transported to the memory of this place—Dreamland on Coney Island. You’re slowly dipped into this time period, this piece of history. It is a story at the same time it is descriptively real, and in this way, it feels like a memory, where it sits comfortably somewhere between dream and reality.

“Ball room, Dreamland, Coney Island, N.Y.” from the Library of Congress

This way of telling history through sound creates an experience for the listener. I found myself pulled in through The Memory Palace’s sound design and detailed, almost nostalgic, historical descriptions. Some of the episodes were heavier with their facts and left me with a specific thought or critique about the historical subject. Other episodes were lighter and invoked a feeling of living in that period of time, or a sense of being in a certain place. I enjoyed that the episodes shifted between heavier and more wistful episodes, since some episodes and their subjects (such as “Hercules,” about George Washington’s slave who escaped to freedom) fit in better with a critical narrator, rather than with dewy-eyed descriptions.

The Memory Palace stands as its own memorable art piece, as its own sort of museum, weaving together fact with story and sound. Each episode is its own small experience, each like a historical artifact, to be taken in one by one.


Listening to the Voices of Survivors

Intern Ellie Smith

Podcasts allow museums to present information in a new way. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum utilizes podcast in order to share the stories of Holocaust survivors. Through their podcast series “First Person: Conversations with Holocaust Survivors” audiences can listen to excerpts from longer interviews from survivors. These podcast are fairly short about five to fifteen minutes which allows the audience to listen to several in a small amount of time. There is something extremely powerful about hearing the stories of survival and Holocaust experiences from those who actually lived it. Reading a memoir does not provide the same experience as listening to the voices of survivors.

Knowing that some of these individuals have already passed away makes being able to listen to their stories more powerful.

This podcast series has a variety of different interviews. Some individuals talk about their experiences in the camps and others discuss death marches or Kristallnacht. The series allows audiences to gain a comprehensive knowledge of the copious experiences of the Holocaust. Often people only know about the camps; Auschwitz is all they know about the Holocaust. But this series allows listeners to gain knowledge of ghetto life, experiences of the death marches, transportations, and other parts of the Holocaust experience. I think this is a wonderful podcast series which allows people to personally connect to the stories of those who survived the Holocaust.

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Intern Weekly Response: Project Updates

Posted on June 21st, 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 share about their projects here at the Museum. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.


Exploring the Lloyd Street Synagogue

-Intern Alexia M. Orengo Green

By now I’m three weeks in on my internship at The Jewish Museum of Maryland and the experience has been great. I have been able to work on various projects regarding the Lloyd Street Synagogue. This incredible building constructed in 1845 is the first synagogue in Maryland.   Even though the synagogue’s history and architecture are impressive, they are not the only things that make the building significant. It is the synagogue’s impact on the Baltimore Jewish community that makes the synagogue unique.

Exterior of the Lloyd Street Synagogue Photo from the Jewish Museum of Maryland webpage.

My first project regarding the Lloyd Street Synagogue was updating the archival inventory of the synagogue. During the duration of this project I went through hundreds of documents concerning the synagogue. This project allowed me to learn about previous research done regarding the synagogue and the various restorations the building has had throughout the years. What stroke me the most from this project was the hard work and dedication the staff from the Jewish Museum of Maryland have put throughout the years to have the synagogue recognized by the city as a historical building. Without this hard work and dedication Baltimore would not have the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Cuspidor from the Lloyd Street Synagogue exhibited on the “Voices of Lombard Street” exhibit. Photo by: Alexia M. Orengo Green.

After finishing updating the archival inventory I began working with the archaeological artifacts excavated in the Lloyd Street Synagogue. This project has fascinated me! I’ve been cataloguing and describing each of the artifacts found. I’ve been able to encounter fabric, ceramics, and even iron nails! What I love the most about this project is getting to study each artifact and see how it fits on the Lloyd Street Synagogue narrative. Every time that I work with archaeological artifacts I try to imagine how they used to look at their period and who used them. I believe this helps putting the artifacts on perspective and helps me connect with the story.

Both projects have been wonderful, and I can’t wait for what is next!


“Inescapable: From Script to Reality”

-Intern Cara Bennet

One of the coolest parts about working in a museum is seeing an exhibit that was once just an idea and some words on a page come to life. Over the past few weeks I have been working on updating the Houdini exhibition script to make sure that the text and labels match the panels that have actually been installed in the exhibit. Usually the script should be finalized before text panels have been printed but I’m learning that sometimes you just have to go with the flow and tweak things along the way. Reviewing the script has been a great learning experience. The Houdini exhibit has been a good example of the different ways an exhibit can be broken up into themes and still tell a consistent narrative. Reviewing the script has also given me an excuse to read every piece of text that has gone into this exhibit. Although I try, I’m never able to read every label and text panel at museum exhibits. Reviewing the script has made me appreciate how much effort and research has gone into this exhibit. Each label and text panel has been written to tell a fascinating story in a relatively small amount of space.

Behind the scenes…exciting things are happening!

After spending days reviewing the script, floorplans, and renderings I got the opportunity to watch the exhibit come to life. It has been so cool watching the exhibit come together piece by piece. While I haven’t had any experience with exhibit installation, this week fellow intern Alexia and I got to help clean all the vitrines in the exhibit. This may not sound super exciting, but it was so cool to get to contribute to this exhibit in some small way. Alexia and I also got the opportunity to help arrange the handcuff display. While we were concerned at first that the handcuffs and picks wouldn’t stand out enough against the black velvet fabric, the objects ended up showing up. I’ve learned that a small museum sometimes you just have to work with what you have and make the most of it.

Alexia and I were only slightly concerned about being trapped in the vitrine. Luckily, we weren’t asked to perform any Houdini inspired escapes.


Making Magic

-Intern Elllie Smith

For the last few weeks I have been helping prepare for the Houdini opening and the Jonestown Festival. For the Houdini opening we constructed houses of cards for table decorations and a card mobile that will decorate the lobby area. We will be making magicians hats and wands at the Jewish Museum of Maryland table at the Jonestown Festival. I spent my time last week prototyping the crafts. I was surprised how long it took me to figure out the exact measurements for the wands and the hats.

I am excited to see the culmination of all of our hard work at both of the events.

When I was not working on crafts and decorations for Houdini I was beginning researching for a pair of exhibits that will open next spring called Stitching History from the Holocaust and Fashion Statement. Stitching History is a traveling exhibit which was created at the Jewish Museum in Milwaukee.

It tells the story of a woman who attempted to gain asylum into the United States during the Holocaust. She tried to prove her value with her fashion designs. She unfortunately was not granted access into the United States and perished in the Holocaust. Her family in Milwaukee kept the designs and donated them to the museum where they were brought to life and now travel around the country. Fashion Statement will be an original exhibit created here at JMM which focuses on the Maryland connection to fashion and designs. I will continue to do research and work to develop programs for both of these exhibits.

For the education department I have been working on creating bags that can be taken on tours of the synagogues to engage children. The activities in the bags will be based around the Synagogue Speaks book. I am working on developing an activity booklet that parents can pick up at the desk before their tours. I am also working on the education aspects of Stitching History and Fashion Statement which include creating lesson plans and activities for school groups. It is a very exciting time at the museum right now and I look forward to seeing what the rest of the summer holds.


Planning Ahead

~Intern Marisa Shultz

It’s been a busy, but extremely exciting start to my internship here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland; let me catch you up on what I’ve been working on! Over the past two and a half weeks, I have started two major, overarching projects that I will work on throughout the course of my internship.

The first is planning programming for the Jewish Refugees and Shanghai exhibit from the Shanghai Jewish Museum that is set to open during the Lunar New Year of 2019. The exhibit explores the experiences of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution who settled in the port city of Shanghai, China. I feel well-equipped and especially excited for this task, as I studied Chinese in both high school and college. Last week, I spent a great deal of time familiarizing myself with the stories of the survivors of the Hongkou ghetto. From there, I have begun brainstorming programs. So far, I have found several potential speakers, a few hands-on events, and many activities for family day, and I am excited to continue looking for and planning programming that is educational, experimental, and fun!

The other major project is creating bags of activities for parents and grandparents to do with their children in the Lloyd Street Synagogue; these activities will be a supplement/experiential element to the book The Synagogue Speaks. So far, I have been working on finding ways to introduce families to the different congregations that used the Lloyd Street Synagogue, as well as providing an opportunity for parents and grandparents to teach their children about Jewish customs and traditions. I hope to make the bags modular, so the experience will be new and fresh each time a family returns to the museum. I have had the pleasure of working with Ellie Smith on this project and am looking forward to continued collaboration!

In addition to these projects, Ellie and I have both been hard at work on the final touches for both the Preview of Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini (6/21) and the Magic of Jonestown Festival (6/24).

I don’t want to give too much away and ruin the magic of surprise, but here is a sneak peek!

I have also been prototyping and building the “code books” for the Vanishing Elephant education program, which will help the kids crack the magic code! I am super excited to see this program in action!

It’s been an incredible two and a half weeks, and I am so proud to be part of this institution this summer!


Histories Found in Scrapbooks

~Intern Ash Turner

Daintily placed prom tickets and corsages. House addresses written neatly on envelopes. Valentines and birthday cards tucked between pages. I’ve been milling through all the odds and ends found in scrapbooks these past weeks, either to write detailed documents of what I find, or to search for specific information.

So far at the JMM, I’ve been learning how to process donated objects, mostly scrapbooks, and I’ve been learning how to correctly handle these objects. I’ve never looked through a stranger’s scrapbook before, much less written up a whole document on someone I don’t know based solely off of what they put in a scrapbook. I’ve also been able to see first hand how scrapbooks stay together and fall apart through the years.

Gift from Eleanor Yuspa, JMM 2015.008.008.

I’ve mostly been surprised by how tangible these different decades, these histories, feel to me now. Sure, I can read in a book about where someone lived in the 1930s, or read facts about who they married and when. But there’s something so much more fulfilling and engaging when you are looking for something else, flipping through pages filled with small objects and scraps of paper, and stumble upon someone’s address, only to realize that they lived on the same street as you – although they lived there 100 years ago.

Tickets pasted into Isaac Hecht’s travel scrapbook from a trip to France. Gift from Eleanor Yuspa, JMM 2015.008.005.

I’ve developed a deeper sense of how Baltimore as a city has changed, even just through the early to mid 1900s. I also appreciate, more than I did before, scrapbooks and the people who make them.

Picture inside Catherine Hecht’s scrapbook. Gift from Eleanor Yuspa, JMM 2015.008.004.

Although I’m only a few weeks into my internship, I’m really looking forward to handling more objects, more slips of paper and newspaper clippings, old advertisements and cartoons. I’m looking forward to the history, and the stories, they hold. I also am hoping to learn more about Baltimore’s history and my own sense of connection to its Jewish roots.

 

 

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