Posted on January 27th, 2016 by Rachel
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
1984.023.049 – 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
1991.065.001.028c – boy in snow
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
2009.026.199 – This could be my favorite photo of all
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.
So good luck braving out our first epic storm of 2016. Be sure to take some photos to remember it by!
A blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.
Posted on December 18th, 2015 by Rachel
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.
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.
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.
A blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.
Posted on December 11th, 2015 by Rachel
Today’s Performance Counts looks ahead. JMM plans its exhibits (both rented and JMM originals) on a two to three year rolling schedule. So while you are enjoying Paul Simon: Words and Music this month we have already locked in our offerings well after 2016’s Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America. With just one traveling exhibit gallery we try to represent a range of important topics in the Jewish experience – from popular culture to communal tragedies. I have asked Deborah to offer a preview of an important upcoming project.
In the spring of 2017 we are designing a project that is composed of multiple elements and multiple perspectives. Remembering Auschwitz is comprised of two exhibits, a commemorative art installation and a program series. Our object is to take an international story, well known in its outline, and to bring new focus to the details – by looking at the lives of individuals before, during and after the Holocaust. The project is expected to run from March 5-May 29, 2017, overlapping with the annual Yom HaShoah and 75 years after the camp at Auschwitz became the launching ground for Hitler’s “Final Solution”.
The Feldman gallery will feature two very different exhibits looking at two periods of time A Town Known As Auschwitz: The Life and Death of a Jewish Community comes from the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. It explores the history of the Polish and Jewish community that eventually became the site of the notorious camp. The town of Oświęcim—today in Poland—has been known by different names, in different languages, at different times. Though it has a long and varied history prior to World War II, Jews and non-Jews lived side by side in Oświęcim and called it home. This exhibit examines the rich history of Oświęcim, Poland—the town the Germans called Auschwitz—through photographs that trace the life of the town and its Jewish residents, from the 16th century through the post-war period.
A Town Known as Auschwitz – History
A second exhibit, The Auschwitz Album: The Story of a Transport from Yad Vashem interprets the only surviving visual evidence of the process of mass murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Auschwitz Album includes photos that were taken in late May or early June 1944, either by Ernst Hoffman or Bernhard Walter, two SS men assigned to fingerprint and take ID photos of the inmates. The photos portray the arrival of Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia, many of whom came from the Berehov Ghetto, which itself was a collecting point for Jews from several other small towns. The beginning of summer 1944 marked the apex of the deportation of Hungarian Jewry. For this purpose, a special rail line was extended from the railway station outside Auschwitz to a ramp inside the camp. Many of the photos in the album were taken on this ramp. Upon arriving in the camp, the Jews underwent a selection process, carried out by SS doctors and wardens. Those considered fit for work were sent into the camp, where they were registered, deloused, and assigned to barracks. The others were sent to the gas chambers.
From The Auschwitz Album
These two exhibits will be displayed side by side and will provide visitors with the opportunity to consider the full history of the town and camp. We are planning on supplementing the exhibit with an art installation, Memory Reconstruction: A Sacred Culture Rebuilt, that will serve as a tribute to Maryland’s community of Holocaust survivors and their families. The JMM will work with California-based artist, Lori Shocket, to facilitate an interactive workshop for survivors and their families. During the workshops, participants bring family photographs and documents as well as stories to share with one another. Each survivor’s story is told through a collage printed on birch wood that integrates photos of personal artifacts along with stories. Collages will then be assembled into an art installation in the JMM lobby. Check out the website humanelementproject.com to learn more about this project and to see samples of the installation from The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
Selections from Memory Reconstruction
The exhibitions also present us with an abundance of programming opportunities for both school and general audiences. For many years, the JMM has partnered with the Baltimore Jewish Council to facilitate Holocaust-related educational programs for students and teachers and we plan on developing many new educational resources that will help us expand these efforts. We anticipate holding many related public programs including survivor talks, lectures, films and authors talks.
Planning for the exhibitions and programs involves many members of our team. Although these are “rental” exhibits, we still need to develop a design for space, plan for the preparation of the gallery and the handling of artifacts, and work with the project artist on connecting to Baltimore resources. And of course, the most critical part of our planning is raising the funds to support all the activities above and more. Yad Vashem has generously donated the rental of its exhibit thanks to a referral from JMM Board member, Dr. Sheldon Bearman. Still we estimate that the total cost of mounting the exhibits and supporting the programs will be about $50,000. We are working with the Board Development committee to identify community members with a strong interest in supporting this important project.
We know that many of you reading this newsletter appreciate JMM’s commitment to serving as a premiere Holocaust educational venue. If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities for this project (or any of our upcoming exhibits), please contact me at (410) 732-6400 x236 / email@example.com.