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




Connecting Communities to Collections

Posted on December 18th, 2015 by

The JMM is a member of the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM), an organization of 80+ members dedicated to the collection and interpretation of Jewish history and culture. CAJM offers a variety of services to its members including professional development opportunities through national conventions and regional meetups. The organization also seeks to take a leading role in addressing issues of concern to its membership by providing guidance and support whenever possible.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to travel to New York for a CAJM sponsored workshop exploring the topic of connecting communities to collections. This was a follow up to a previous “Idea Lab” that took place last spring that opened the conversation and explored several different strategies for making museum collections more relevant and accessible for community members. Concepts discussed at the first gathering included “Next Narratives” (launching collecting initiatives that help reshape conventional narratives of Jewish history), “Audacious Hospitality” (creating a more inclusive environment through creative programming and collecting), and “Strategic Alliances” (as a means of more effectively leveraging limited resources). Another suggestion was raised to radically rethink collecting strategies that would enable museums to think more strategically about the types of artifacts that they accession.

The goal of the second in a series of ongoing conversations on this topic was to discuss these strategies (and others) in more depth. More than 25 cultural leaders (not just from Jewish museums) and funders attended the program which took place at the Center for Jewish History. The morning was spent laying out some of the challenges that Jewish museums face in making their collections accessible. Many institutions have large collections that are not well documented with limited storage space.

These photos reflect the fact that the JMM collections storage space is packed with artifacts. Finding space for new items – especially large framed artworks – is a challenge.

These photos reflect the fact that the JMM collections storage space is packed with artifacts.

collections storage

Finding space for new items – especially large framed artworks – is a challenge.

Furthermore, it is difficult finding the necessary funds to properly care for artifact preservation.

Focus turned to strategies for engaging young audiences through collections and it was suggested that museums explore successful initiatives that have been employed to encourage millennial participation in Jewish culture and tradition such as Reboot: www.rebooters.net and Moishe House: www.moishehouse.org/houses/baltimore.

New models for engaging audiences with collections were suggested such as lending artifacts that are seldom used to other community organizations like synagogues for display and possible use or working with organizations like Museum Hack to develop creative tours and programs: https://museumhack.com/. Interest was also expressed in developing partnerships with artists to help reinvigorate collections by inviting them to explore artifacts in storage and to create art installations based on their interpretation of objects. Examples of successful projects that make use of contemporary artists include the Israel Museum: http://www.jerusalemseason.com/en/content/event/contact-point.

While the JMM does not have an especially large collection of Judaica, for many Jewish museums, Jewish ritual objects comprise a significant part of their collections. One recommendation is to think about more creative ways of displaying Judaica so visitors can better understand their role in ritual.

While the JMM does not have an especially large collection of Judaica, for many Jewish museums, Jewish ritual objects comprise a significant part of their collections. One recommendation is to think about more creative ways of displaying Judaica so visitors can better understand their role in ritual.

One idea for new types of partnerships is for Jewish museums to work with non-Jewish organizations to help them more fully interpret Jewish content in their collections. Jewish funders are often more interested in supporting work at non-Jewish institutions because of the perception that it will be viewed by a larger more diverse audiences.

In the afternoon, we split up and worked in small groups to tackle specific issues and to come up with a concrete proposal for what CAJM might do to help provide solutions. My group was tasked with exploring how to develop trust between museum staff who wants to protect collections and often is concerned about possible infringements on its role as collections’ guardians and those who want to open up access to collections in new ways. We suggested that CAJM could develop a set of guidelines that would help its members reexamine collections policies as well as share stories of successful models for connecting collections to community. Another idea is for CAJM to provide small grants to organizations to encourage innovation in this area. We also explored the possibility of convening a small group of museums to examine where the gaps are in collections – i.e. do our collections represent the current faces of our Jewish communities?

All in all, the day was productive with lots of interesting conversation surrounding the topic of collections and audience engagement.

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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