Deadly Medicine

Posted on March 19th, 2014 by

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On March 13, I attended a program at the University of Maryland’s Health Sciences Library in conjunction with a traveling exhibition that the Library is hosting, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race. This exhibit, created by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, has been traveling throughout the country for several years. The exhibition explores the rise of eugenics in Nazi Germany and how the quest to create a master race resulted in a public campaign to rid society of “undesirables” including those with mental and physical disabilities as well as individuals who were considered members of inferior races, such as Jews.

The exhibition’s curator, Susan Bachrach, gave a lecture to a crowd of medical students, University of Maryland administrators and professors, and community members. Dr. Bachrach’s riveting talk included background on the history of the eugenics movement, both in Weimar Germany as well as in other countries including the US. Many in the audience were unaware of the fact that forced sterilization was legal in several states in the US in the first half of the 20th century. While Maryland did not have such a law, in one notable 1927 Supreme Court case, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the majority opinion upholding Virginia’s law in the 1927 case against Carrie Buck. (For more on this case, check out www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/VA/VA.html.)

Although the exhibit is difficult to view from the point of view of its deeply disturbing content and imagery, the subject matter is incredibly important and relevant for contemporary audiences especially in light of current debates on medical ethics. Dr. Bachrach’s lecture included video testimony from Holocaust survivors including siblings who were sent to Auschwitz where they were subjected to the notorious Dr. Mengele’s experiments on twins. Following this emotional testimony, it was hard to look at a photograph of Dr. Mengele in which he looks like a “normal” doctor going about his business. We so often think of the perpetuators of the Holocaust as evil monsters and it is difficult to grapple with the fact that their appearance does not always conform to this characterization.

The USHMM has created a virtual exhibit on their website that features more information as well as images.

workshop flyer

The JMM and BJC are co-sponsoring a teacher training workshop taking place at the University of Maryland’s Health Sciences Library on April 2. The program is open to educators of all backgrounds.

Deadly Medicine is on view through April 30.

 

A blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




The Braille Challenge at Maryland School for the Blind

Posted on February 19th, 2014 by

On February 8, I had the privilege of attending an amazing event. Thanks to the hard work of JMM docent extraordinaire, Robyn Hughes, the JMM was invited to participate in an expo at the Maryland School for the Blind taking place in conjunction with the School’s Braille Challenge.

Robyn Hughes sits behind the JMM’s table at the expo.

Robyn Hughes sits behind the JMM’s table at the expo.

Sponsored by the Braille Institute, The Braille Challenge is a national competition that challenges students in a variety of contests that tests their ability to read and write in Braille. (For a sense of what the competition is about check out this fun video, http://www.brailleinstitute.org/braillechallenge./)

Our table contained an array of materials that Robyn has created showcasing our efforts to make educational resources and activities accessible for visitors with visual impairments.

Students and parents could learn about the Hebrew alphabet through magnetic letters and Braille translation.

Students and parents could learn about the Hebrew alphabet through magnetic letters and Braille translation.

We had a wonderful time talking to students who participated in The Braille Challenge and their parents who stopped by the table to learn about the JMM and the various programs we offer. It was really exciting seeing them read the Braille labels and then answering questions about what they were reading.

children exploring Trunk objects (2)

Children exploring Immigrants Trunk objects

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

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




The Electrified Pickle: A Community Tech and Craft Fair

Posted on January 27th, 2014 by

This summer the JMM will host a unique visitor experience designed to appeal to budding engineers, artists, scientists, DIY-ers and anyone curious to learn about technological innovation and its connections to Jewish life. Our Feldman Gallery will be transformed into a participatory lab-style environment where visitors can discover the mystery behind scientific principles such as magnetism, electricity, solar power, and more through fun and engaging interactive activities. The gallery will serve as a community festival space where people can come to experiment, create, and learn from one another.

Photo Credit Flikr, Creative Commons, sDuchamp

Photo Credit Flikr, Creative Commons, sDuchamp

As part of our planning for this event, this week several members of staff joined collections manager Jobi Zink for a tour of our collections to see what we might be able to display in the gallery relating to the theme of technology and innovation. To my surprise, there was a plethora of artifacts for consideration to showcase the kinds of things that while are considered obsolete today, were formerly at the forefront of technological innovation. Consider for example the sewing machine that revolutionized clothing manufacturing and is also an item associated with Jewish immigrants many of whom found employment in Baltimore’s clothing factories in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Here is a sewing machine that was displayed in Hello Gorgeous! Staff often jokes that at the JMM we rarely have an exhibit that does not include a sewing machine or trunk.

Here is a sewing machine that was displayed in Hello Gorgeous! Staff often jokes that at the JMM we rarely have an exhibit that does not include a sewing machine or trunk.

While today’s electric sewing machine looks different from the foot powered ones in our collections, the basic concept has not really changed all that much. That is certainly not true of other objects in our collection such as the typewriter or phonograph.

This typewriter has Hebrew characters.

This typewriter has Hebrew characters.

We look forward to playing games with some of our younger guests to the exhibit to see if they can figure out what these ancient objects were once used for!

During our tour of the collections, we came upon my all time favorite object.

Deborah's favorite object.

Deborah’s favorite object.

Can you guess what this is? No, this is not a medieval torture instrument or a relic from Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. This was a hair styling implement used in Sonya’s Beauty Salon in the 1930s so that women could transform their straight hair into the more fashionable permanent wave style. Funny how hair style trends come and go and new gadgets are constantly being invented so women can keep up with the latest. (Perhaps I should hold onto my 13 year old daughter’s collection of flat irons used to flatten every trace of curl in her hair for a future exhibit!)

And lest you think we only collect women’s beauty implements, here is another hair styling implement used to clip men’s hair in Kramer’s Barber Shop on Bond Street.

And lest you think we only collect women’s beauty implements, here is another hair styling implement used to clip men’s hair in Kramer’s Barber Shop on Bond Street.

In displaying objects such as these, we plan on illustrating the impact of invention on everyday Jewish life and help visitors make connections between the tools that changed the lives of our parents and grandparents and the high-tech gadgets that fill our lives today. We hope you will join us this summer – the Electrified Pickle runs from July 13-August 10.

A 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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