Exploring Next Narratives

Posted on March 25th, 2016 by

This year’s Council of American Jewish Museum’s (CAJM) annual conference took place in NY from March 20-22 and focused on the topic of “Next Narratives”. Conversation flowed surrounding the topic of storytelling with many thought provoking sessions devoted to exploring how Jewish museums can develop new more inclusive narratives through exhibitions, programs and outreach initiatives.

2016 CAJM Conference

2016 CAJM Conference

The conference lineup was impressive and featured artists, scholars, museum professionals and philanthropists. The opening plenary highlighted novel storytelling methods with presentations by Annie Polland of the Tenement Museum, author Bruce Feiler and artist and filmmaker, Tiffany Shlain. I was reminded again about just what a brilliant job the Tenement Museum does in telling stories about the immigrants who inhabited 97 Orchard Street and loved Annie’s endorsement of “messy storytelling” by training guides to learn how to give unscripted tours that incorporate participants’ stories. You can find out more about the Tenement Museum’s tours and programs at tenement.org.

Another thought provoking session, “The Ten-Foot Pole of Jewish Museums: Where is the Religious Narrative?” raised a rather provocative issue – are Jewish museums afraid to wrestle with religious content in meaningful ways? One of the panelists, Melanie Holcomb from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, shared how a beautiful musical installation that her staff created at the Cloisters enhanced visitor engagement with religious art. The discussion among participants following the panelists was particularly insightful.

Audience engagement through non-traditional means was emphasized in the final panel of the conference, “Audacious Space: Rethinking Gallery Engagement”.

Audience engagement through non-traditional means was emphasized in the final panel of the conference, “Audacious Space: Rethinking Gallery Engagement”.

Colleagues from The Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco), The Jewish Museum (NY), the National Museum of American Jewish History (Philadelphia) and Museum Hack highlighted work that they have done to bring in new audiences through such means as providing contemporary artists opportunities to create installations based on their interpretation of collections and exhibitions (often displayed in unusual spaces). The Contemporary Jewish Museum has developed a popular series of 20-minute gallery chats that provide visitors with the chance to hear from a diverse group of speakers who have some connection to exhibition content. (Check out current offerings developed for the Bill Graham exhibit.)

Museum Hack, a tour company that is not affiliated with a museum, has a reputation for leading highly entertaining tours that are popular with millennials. This presentation was especially fun and audience members enjoyed participating in an activity creating stories of individuals portrayed in famous art portraits. For more about the irreverent approach that Museum Hack takes to developing its interactive tours with the tagline “This Isn’t Your Grandma’s Museum Tour” check out museumhack.com.

In addition to the valuable content gleaned from sessions, the CAJM conference also offers plenty of opportunities for networking with colleagues from across the country as well as from Canada, Europe and Israel. Taking advantage of the many amazing cultural venues in New York, attendees had the chance to view multiple exhibits, including Beit Hatfutsots’ exhibit Here Comes the Bride: [pdf] at Temple Emanue-el.

At the Jewish Museum we viewed an incredible exhibit displaying gowns, sketches and costumes by Isaac Mizrahi.

At the Jewish Museum we viewed an incredible exhibit displaying gowns, sketches and costumes by Isaac Mizrahi.

Center for Jewish History

Center for Jewish History

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

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Stepping Back in Time

Posted on February 24th, 2016 by

Walking into the Krieger Schechter Day School on a dreary and snowy February day, my colleagues Trillion, Joanna and I felt as though we had traveled back in time. Students wearing poodle skirts and letter jackets roamed the halls and the sounds of rock and roll played in the background. We had come to participate in the middle school’s Learning Festival, a three-day break from normal academics when the entire student body immerses itself in the study of a specific theme through speakers, field trips and a variety of hands-on activities. This year’s theme, “The 1950s: From Prosperity to Protest”, was an especially rich topic, one that was clearly embraced by students and teachers alike.

The JMM was thrilled to be invited to participate. To help shed light on an important 1950s trend, suburbanization, we installed our traveling exhibition, Jews on the Move, which examines the history of the move of Baltimore’s Jewish community from the city to the suburbs from 1945-68. The exhibition was on view for two weeks in a hallway near Chizuk Amuno’s sanctuary where it was enjoyed by both the school community as well as by synagogue congregants.

Jews on the Move was developed as a collaborative project with The Program in Museums and Society at the Johns Hopkins University. It was originally installed in 2012 at the Johns Hopkins University. It has since been featured at many additional venues including the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Library and several synagogues.

Jews on the Move was developed as a collaborative project with The Program in Museums and Society at the Johns Hopkins University. It was originally installed in 2012 at the Johns Hopkins University. It has since been featured at many additional venues including the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Library and several synagogues.

In addition to having the exhibit on view, Trillion and I led two workshops for students during which they had an opportunity to look for photos and stories in the exhibit (bonus points for finding a 1960s photo of Chizuk Amuno!).

Students viewing the exhibit.

Students viewing the exhibit.

Students viewing the exhibit.

Students viewing the exhibit.

They then worked together in groups to review 1950s era advertisements from real estate companies that ran in the Jewish Times that tried to entice suburban home buyers. Students were asked to identify what features were highlighted to appeal to potential buyers (spacious floor plans, new and modern appliances, yards, etc) and how the use of images and typography helped make the case.

Ads like this one from the Jewish Times in 1960 appealed to families looking to move out of crowded homes in the city.

Ads like this one from the Jewish Times in 1960 appealed to families looking to move out of crowded homes in the city.

After they had analyzed their photos, students then designed their own ad for a 1950s-era suburban development that they shared with classmates.  We loved the enthusiasm with which the students tackled this assignment and were even treated to an advertising jingle and dance by one of the groups.

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

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Snowmageddon, Again???

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by

Snow – it’s all everyone is talking about this week. You can’t turn on the radio without nonstop coverage of school closings (never mind that a flake has yet to fall) and updated forecasts.

So instead of joining the fray and creating yet more pandemonium, I thought it might be fun to take a more lighthearted look at how Marylanders have historically coped with snow by taking a look through our photograph collection.

One of our earliest collection of snow filled photos is actually not a local scene but was taken by members of the Friedenwald Family (yes, the same family who is a subject of our upcoming Beyond Chicken Soup exhibit) while they were visiting Switzerland for the VII Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland.

1984.023.016 – Snow covered mountain in Switzerland

1984.023.016 – Snow covered mountain in Switzerland

1984.023.049 – I especially love this photo of men with their simple gear. Amazing to think they were able to mountain climb without stocking up on an array of fancy gear from REI or LL Bean!

1984.023.049 – I especially love this photo of men with their simple gear. Amazing to think they were able to mountain climb without stocking up on an array of fancy gear from REI or LL Bean!

Apparently playing in the snow is something that Marylanders – young and old – have always enjoyed as seen in these photos going back to the early 1900s. It is especially delightful to see a snow storm through the eyes of children.

1996.050.027i.004 – Ruth Weinberg, 1908

1996.050.027i.004 – Ruth Weinberg, 1908

1991.065.001.028c - boy in snow

1991.065.001.028c – boy in snow

CP.42.2012.001 – Charlotte and Michael Weiner, 1954/55

CP.42.2012.001 – Charlotte and Michael Weiner, 1954/55

Finding creative ways to enjoy the snow is also a timeless pursuit.

1996.163.064 – Fred and Walter Groebel playing in the snow

1996.163.064 – Fred and Walter Groebel playing in the snow

2009.026.199 – This could be my favorite photo of all

2009.026.199 – This could be my favorite photo of all

2010.020.283 – Sinai Nurses enjoying the snow, March 1942

2010.020.283 – Sinai Nurses enjoying the snow, March 1942

2009.014.005 – John Marsiglia with his dog, Mickey in Pikesville, 1992/1993 – Of course, not everything about the snow is fun but I’m sure the work goes much quicker when you have a pet by your side.

2009.014.005 – John Marsiglia with his dog, Mickey in Pikesville, 1992/1993 – Of course, not everything about the snow is fun but I’m sure the work goes much quicker when you have a pet by your side.

So good luck braving out our first epic storm of 2016. Be sure to take some photos to remember it by!

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

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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