Can’t Touch This: Voices from the Basement Part 1

Posted on August 17th, 2017 by

This summer we asked our summer interns to team up and create their very own podcast episodes. Over the course of ten weeks they needed to pitch a concept, draft a script, and record and edit their podcasts. We’re going to share those podcasts here with you on the blog over the course of the next few weeks! You can see all of their podcasts by clicking on the intern podcast tag.


 

Interns Joelle and Amy posing with one of the many historic dresses they worked with this summer.

Interns Joelle and Amy posing with one of the many historic dresses they worked with this summer.

The first podcast episodes in this special series were created by collections interns Joelle Paull and Amy Swartz to focus on the care and handling of museum collections. They had so much to talk about that they elected to create three episodes – the first is focused on textiles, a subject they got first hand experience with as they assisted with the installation of our Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Maryland exhibit. Below are some images and resources related to their podcast Can’t Touch This, episode 1.

>>Listen to the Podcast<<


 

Wedding dress made of silk with beadwork on bodice and skirt, worn by Bessie Grossman when she married Louis Paymer, Jan. 3, 1911. Gift of Zelda Paymer Salkin and Lenore Paymer Snyder. JMM 1986.109.1

Wedding dress made of silk with beadwork on bodice and skirt, worn by Bessie Grossman when she married Louis Paymer, Jan. 3, 1911. Gift of Zelda Paymer Salkin and Lenore Paymer Snyder. JMM 1986.109.1

Many hours were spent carefully steaming out wrinkles.

Many hours were spent carefully steaming out wrinkles.


Resources on how to handle textiles:

How to Handle Antique Textiles and Costumes from the Smithsoniam Museum Conservation Institute

Curatorial Care of Textile Objects from the National Park Service

Care of Historic Clothing and Textiles from the University of Georgia

Caring for Your Treasures: Textiles from the American Institute for Conservation


 

Each of these mannequins has their own name and were used for displaying textiles in the Just Married! exhibit.

Each of these mannequins has their own name and were used for displaying textiles in the Just Married! exhibit.


Why you shouldn’t use blue tissue paper to store your wedding dress!


Continue to “Can’t Touch This” part 2!

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Studying Abroad: Where Museum Personalities Clash

Posted on August 2nd, 2017 by

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

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

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

A ship in the Viking Museum, Oslo, Norway

A ship in the Viking Museum, Oslo, Norway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Padding and Stuffing Galore: What It Really Takes to Exhibit Textiles

Posted on June 19th, 2017 by

Blog post by Amy Swartz, Collections Intern. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.

This past week was spent helping Joanna Church, the Collections Manager, set up the newest exhibit at the museum: Just Married: Wedding Stories From Jewish Maryland. Some of the main components of the exhibit are textiles such as dresses and tuxedos. I spent the majority of my week focusing on these artifacts. I had no previous experience of working with textiles in any of my past internships so I was very excited to have the chance to learn about caring and displaying these types of artifacts in an exhibit. I also always had an interest in historical fashion and whenever I was able to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I always bee-lined it straight to the textile wing. And anyways, who doesn’t love a pretty dress?

Hard at work steaming the wrinkles out of a dress.

Hard at work steaming the wrinkles out of a dress.

Well the answer to that question was to be tested this week as I learned how much more work it goes into displaying textiles and dresses than simply putting it on a manikin. I began the week with loads and loads of steaming. Many of the dresses were either from the JMM collection or from donors, many of whom kept the dresses in boxes for years on end. So needless to say, there were some intense wrinkles. About four dresses were in desperate need of steaming so armed with a steamer and helped by the education interns: Sara and Erin, I was able to steam all of the dresses in a day. But steaming was only the beginning.

One of the dresses in the exhibit that required very careful handling and needed padding for shape.

One of the dresses in the exhibit that required very careful handling and needed padding for shape.

The next step consisted of moving the manikins and dresses through the building and into the exhibit, which is easier said than done when contesting with a hoop skirt. Once the manikins were in place, we had to make them look more real for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it would look silly if a dress was just hanging off a manikin, who if measured would probably be a 00 in dress size and has unrealistic proportions. Secondly, fabrics need support in order to keep their shape and to support larger pieces of fabric, such as tulle skirts, there needs to be some form of structure. Not supporting the textiles properly could lead to further damage.

The dress with the largest skirt, which required a lot of steaming and paper tissue to enhance the petticoat underneath.

The dress with the largest skirt, which required a lot of steaming and paper tissue to enhance the petticoat underneath.

So the question became, how to support these dresses, because real women, with rather exact measurements, had worn them in the past. We, in the Collections department, turned to padding, tulle, and even paper tissue. Many of the manikins needed busts and butts so we started by putting bras or slips on the manikins and then stuffing the bra area if the dress needed it. We added paper tissues to petticoats in order to make them more full. One of the harder tasks was creating butts for the manikins, which went by trial and error. I began by folding padding up into a square and then pinning it to the manikin at the right height. But more often than not, I needed to add one or two more pieces of padding in order to make them seem more realistic. The last step was to create arms for the dresses, using stockings and padding. This could also be tricky as it was much harder to put dresses on manikins with arms, however with a few hands, it was certainly doable.

Last week provided me with real insight into how a textile exhibit is made and how much careful work must be put into each dress. It definitely makes me wonder if other museums have different techniques or resources based on their size and funding. Although the exhibit did require a bit of grunt-work and careful handling, the beauty of the dresses and the addition they make to the exhibit was invaluable and I cannot wait to learn more about handling different types of artifacts this summer.

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Next Page »