Exploring Open Source in San Francisco

Posted on March 16th, 2015 by

I was delighted to have the opportunity to take part in this year’s Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) conference taking place March 8-10 in San Francisco. Attended by more than 100 Jewish museum professionals from all over the US, Canada and Europe, this year’s conference theme, Open Source: Jewish Museums and Collaborative Culture was particularly appropriate for its setting in the Bay Area.

CAJM Conference 2015

CAJM Conference 2015

What a pleasure it was to leave gray, bleak and snowy Baltimore and to emerge from the BART station on Mission Street in San Francisco to a beautiful sunny day. Things only got better from there. Our first day was spent at The Contemporary Jewish Museum, one of our conference hosts.

exterior, The Contemporary Jewish Museum

exterior, The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the Museum’s design incorporates Jewish symbols and is a striking presence in the heart of a bustling commercial and cultural district. (Visit www.thecjm.org/about/building to learn more about the building)

The CJM provides many wonderful opportunities for community engagement. I was drawn to its warm and welcoming education center featuring an abundance of creative hands-on activity stations that encourage exploration.

The CJM provides many wonderful opportunities for community engagement. I was drawn to its warm and welcoming education center featuring an abundance of creative hands-on activity stations that encourage exploration.

The conference kicked off with a lively keynote address by Nina Simon, executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. Simon is known for her audience-centered approach to museum design and programming and she challenged CAJM participants to remove barriers of access that often prevent people from visiting their institutions. Her talk was one of the highlights of the conference as she presented a model for museums as participatory and experimental sites that engage in social bridging by bringing together people of different backgrounds. (You can read more about Simon’s groundbreaking views about the role of museums in her Museum 2.0 blog.)

One of my favorite aspects of CAJM conferences is the opportunity to visit other museums and San Francisco did not disappoint. Kudos to conference organizers for casting off the tradition of using buses as the primary mode of transportation and instead relying on public transportation. It was quite a feat that they managed to successfully herd dozens of conferees up and down subway platforms and onto the appropriate trains!

Sites visited included the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life where we had the chance to view Gourmet Ghettos: Modern Food Rituals, the California Historical Society and the Oakland Museum of California. Visiting the recently restored core exhibition galleries of art and history at the Oakland Museum provided inspiration for thinking about the concept of core exhibits as did a related session held that afternoon, “Getting to the Core: Options and Models”. The Museum’s executive director, Lori Fogarty, talked about the history of the project as well as its development process that actively included feedback from a wide range of community members.

A display exploring the gold rush from the new core exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California

A display exploring the gold rush from the new core exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California

One of my favorite labels ever marked the entrance to the art gallery explaining to visitors the symbols on works of art and asking that they refrain from licking the paintings!

One of my favorite labels ever marked the entrance to the art gallery explaining to visitors the symbols on works of art and asking that they refrain from licking the paintings!

By the end of the conference on Tuesday afternoon, I was simultaneously exhausted and energized and looking forward to sharing what I learned with my JMM colleagues.

Learn more about the conference HERE.

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Studying the Legacy of the Holocaust

Posted on February 4th, 2015 by

Lessons of the Shoah, a high school interfaith program, took place on February 3 at John Carroll High School in Harford County. Designed as a day of exploration, dialogue and commemoration using the Holocaust and its lessons as a starting point to promote tolerance, understanding and respect among students of diverse backgrounds, the program featured workshops, survivor testimony and student presentations and reflections.

Lessons of the Shoah, 2015

Lessons of the Shoah, 2015

More than 250 students and 30 teachers representing 21 schools participated in the day long program that was spearheaded by John Carroll teacher Louise Geczy and co-sponsored by the JMM and Baltimore Jewish Council. Participating schools included public (from Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Harford County), independent and parochial (Jewish and Catholic) schools.

After an opening program in which students watched a video produced by the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous documenting a reunion between a Holocaust survivor and the non-Jewish family that rescued him (learn more about the JFR at www.jfr.org), students attended two workshops of their choice. Options included genocide prevention led by Warren Marcus of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Collaborators and Bystanders facilitated by Poly High School teacher Josh Headly, and a history of antisemitism by Father Bob Albright.

The JMM also lead a breakout session using our Lives Lost, Lives Found history kit to engage students in critical thinking as they analyzed photographs exploring the experiences of German Jewish refugees who found safe haven in Baltimore in the 1930s.

As part of the activity students worked in small groups to explore photos that were part of the exhibit.

As part of the activity students worked in small groups to explore photos that were part of the exhibit.

As a culminating activity, students create a timeline of photos.

As a culminating activity, students create a timeline of photos.

Teachers and students split up during lunch giving students the chance to get to know one another while teachers networked and listened to a panel of Holocaust educators who shared their tips for teaching the topic.

After lunch the entire group gathered for the most moving part of the program to hear Holocaust survivors Esther and Howard Kaidanow share their stories of survival.

Esther Kaidonow speaking.

Esther Kaidanow speaking.

Students gathered with the Kaidonows to express their appreciation.

Students gathered with the Kaidanows to express their appreciation.

Following the testimony, students worked in small groups to share reflections of the day.

Students working in small groups.

Students working in small groups.

They were asked to write down their final thoughts about the lasting legacy of the Holocaust on index cards that they posted for all to read.

Students posting their comments.

Students posting their comments.

Sample reflections

Sample reflections

Lessons of the Shoah is a program that the JMM and BJC have facilitated for several years in several different iterations. This was the second year that we have used the format of a day long program for students from many different schools. The impressive turnout of students and teachers from such a diverse group of schools and the beautiful reflections shared by students at the end of the day reflect the importance of providing opportunities for teens to learn from one another using the lessons of the Holocaust as inspiration for discourse.

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Girls Scouts Find Common Ground at JMM

Posted on January 19th, 2015 by

On Sunday, January 18, the JMM was privileged to host a very special group. Girls Scout Junior Troop #10038 attended an afternoon program dedicated to their pursuit of two badges: Public Speaking and Finding Common Ground.

Finding Common Ground Badge

Finding Common Ground Badge

The afternoon started with a tour of our exhibits for the girls and their families. The girls easily made connections between the day’s theme and the life and time of Mendes Cohen as they explored The A-mazing Mendes Cohen. They especially enjoyed the Make Your Voice Heard station where they recorded themselves speaking on behalf of important personal issues.

Making their voices heard!

Making their voices heard!

Enjoying the A-mazing Mendes Cohen.

Enjoying the A-mazing Mendes Cohen.

After the tour, we made our way to the library where the girls had the chance to explore a variety of books from the JMM library assembled for their enjoyment by JMM collections manager, Joanna Church. They donned white gloves and carefully turned the pages as they examined the books’ bindings and pages, an extension activity of a previous badge they had worked on, Booking Making.

Looking at books selected by Joanna.

Looking at books selected by Joanna.

Group assembled in orientation space awaiting the start of the program.

They then assembled in our orientation space to begin work on the two badges.

They were delighted to meet three special guests who joined them for the program: Girls Scouts of Central Maryland, CEO, Violet Apple, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (whose daughter is a troop member) and Senator Ben Cardin (whose granddaughter is also in the troop, who coincidentally happens to be my daughter as well!) Who better to provide counsel on the topics of public speaking and finding common ground then these two distinguished public servants who have spent their entire careers in the public arena. They also raised the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as someone who was able to affect change through the power of his voice and who was able to skillfully know how to find common ground while not compromising his goals for the Civil Rights Movement.

Senator Cardin sharing tips for public speaking as well as strategies for building consensus which he acknowledged is not always in easy in the US Senate!

Senator Cardin sharing tips for public speaking as well as strategies for building consensus which he acknowledged is not always in easy in the US Senate!

Mayor Rawlings-Blake talks about the importance of making connection to your audience and not being afraid to stand up and speak out for what you believe.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake talks about the importance of making connection to your audience and not being afraid to stand up and speak out for what you believe.

Each troop member had the opportunity to practice delivering excerpts from a famous speech using the tips and pointers provided by Mayor Rawlings-Blake and Senator Cardin.

A troop member delivering an excerpt from a famous speech by Susan B. Anthony.

A troop member delivering an excerpt from a famous speech by Susan B. Anthony.

At the end of their practice, they received feedback and praise from the two guests who were impressed by the poise and eloquence of the scouts and their ability to find speeches that meant something to them personally.

At the end of their practice, they received feedback and praise from the two guests who were impressed by the poise and eloquence of the scouts and their ability to find speeches that meant something to them personally.

The troop celebrated their success with a reception in the Rosen-Salganik Board Room complete with cake and beverages.

The troop celebrated their success with a reception in the Rosen-Salganik Board Room complete with cake and beverages.

Visit http://gscm.org/about/ to learn more about Girls Scouts of Central Maryland.

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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