Performance Counts March 2014: Declaring Victory

Posted on March 14th, 2014 by

The gallery has cleared.  The artifacts are on their way home.  Now we can assess the impact of Passages Through the Fire:  Jews and the Civil War.  How shall we measure the value of these last eighteen weeks?

Cutting a fine figure on the dance floor at our Farewell Cotillion.

Cutting a fine figure on the dance floor at our Farewell Cotillion.

One is always tempted to start with attendance.  More than 4700 visitors came to the exhibition.  This is a pace consistent with the museum’s strongest previous exhibition, despite the fact that nearly half the run of the exhibit took place in January and February (we suspect you will recall that the weather made outings more challenging in those months).  The category showing the biggest year-over-year increase was “walk-in” visitors, people coming just to see the exhibit numbered more than 1000 during the period.  Right behind, at 967, were visitors coming to our Sunday and evening programs.

Of course, attendance numbers aren’t the whole measure.  We received both formal and anecdotal feedback to the exhibit and associated education programs.  We had some very positive responses, ranging from one of the exhibit’s creators in New York praising our additions to the project, to reenactors appreciating our offering of an unusual chapter of Civil War history, to a young visitor whose mother told me he couldn’t stop talking about the 1861 tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Students from John Ruarah explore our photography interactive station.

Students from John Ruarah explore our photography interactive station.

As a manager, I feel obliged to mention that the exhibit was delivered on time and on budget.  We have many people to thank for that but special kudos go to curator Karen Falk and researcher Todd Neeson who burned the midnight oil to prepare a quality product.  I also think its remarkable that we reached our fundraising goal in spite of a late start, raising over $108,000 in just six months.  Former Board president Barbara Katz and our development team (Clair Segal, Susan Press, Rachel Kassman and Deborah Cardin) deserve a lot of credit here.

A visit with Mr. Lincoln

A visit with Mr. Lincoln

And I would be remiss if I didn’t single out programs as a special area of achievement.  Newcomer Trillion Attwood presented 22 programs between October and February, 15 of these on the Civil War itself.  These demonstrated an enormous range of subjects – from photography to woman’s history, and wide variety of formats – living history, family days, author lectures and even dance!  The strength of these offerings showed how many dimensions of discourse we could find in one exhibit’s content.

Curator Karen Falk removes wall text in preparation for our next exhibit - Project Mah Jongg!

Curator Karen Falk removes wall text in preparation for our next exhibit – Project Mah Jongg!

So on the whole, I would say we won the battle… but the war to take JMM to the next level continues and with many fields of combat ahead (Mah Jongg tables, pickle barrels and puzzle mazes among them) we will continue the fight.  With your help, victory will be ours.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Why Resist a Good Story?

Posted on February 13th, 2014 by

I am such a sucker for a good story – and with Valentine’s Day looming ever so close, I wanted to share a little story that I heard yesterday while speaking to Lillian Reyes, a teacher who brought her 7th graders from Har Sinai Congregation to the JMM to learn about the life in Baltimore during the Civil War and the connection between Rabbi David Einhorn, Har Sinai Congregation and slavery.

I asked Lillian how the morning was going and she mentioned that she loved the Jewish Museum of Maryland and was very excited about bringing her class to the Museum- as the JMM was where she met her future husband.

Lillian, a recent transplant to Baltimore was single and was looking for fun things to do and places to meet other Jews.  She had previously been to “Late Night on Lloyd Street” events at the JMM and a friend suggested attending a B’nai Israel young adult program “Pizza in the Hut” during Sukkot (September) 2013. Lillian met Marc Soloweszyk in the crowded room, hit it off right away and spent the entire night talking!

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

After a beautiful courtship during which they both realized how perfect they were for each other, Marc wanted to propose, but hadn’t figured out just the right place to do it. On December 27, Marc took Lillian for a surprise evening in downtown Baltimore and while walking down Lloyd Street, reminisced about the night they had met.  Suddenly, he was on one knee with a ring in his hand, asking Lillian to marry him. After briefly hyperventilating and a random “Congratulations!” shouted from a passing car, Lillian said “Yes!”. Marc put the ring on her finger and they stood in front of the entrance to the Jewish Museum/Bnai Israel and all of the sudden fireworks over the Inner Harbor, lit up the sky.

Lillian says, “It was a magical night and we both feel so blessed to have met each other. We already loved the exhibits and events at the JMM and now the museum has a whole new meaning for us! The wedding will be April 30, 2014, G-d willing, in Pikesville, MD.”

ilene A blog posy by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon.

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




After the Show: the Breakdown of an Exhibit

Posted on February 10th, 2014 by

The most exciting part about visiting a museum is getting to view various artifacts within the exhibits, especially if the museum is featuring a new one. I myself had only been on the outside, until this January when I was asked to help break the featured exhibit down here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Forest and Jobi prepare packaging.

Forest and Jobi prepare packaging.

The museum currently has an exhibit called “Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War”. But as spring rolls around, so will new artifacts, and the process of packing up the show, in someways is as thrilling as seeing it as a visitor.

To start, there had to be photos taken of every artifact. These photos were then color coded based on their lenders. Lenders were a variation of individuals, museums, and historical societies.

The Color Code List

The Color Code List

Once each photo was matched to the lender, I then filed the loan form for each artifact with its picture. What sounds like slow work, was actually informing. I was able to read the descriptions and learn a little more about the artifacts and the Jewish involvement in the Civil War as well.

Following this, Jobi and I determined how the artifacts would be returned to their lenders. We organized and labeled  boxes, for packaging, to be sure that everything was returned to it’s original owner. There was a lot of measuring and labeling to do, but I was able to check out artifacts that were not put into the exhibit. This was a really cool advantage.

Measuring boxes

Measuring boxes

The last step of course, is to take the actual artifacts down, pack them up, and send them back! This of course will not happen until the exhibit is officially over. So before the final step is taken, be sure to stop by the museum and check out “Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War”, which ends February 27th at 5 pm.

 

A blog post by Collections Intern Forest Fleisher. To read more posts by interns, click HERE. If you are interested in interning at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, you can find open internship opportunities HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Next Page »