Posted on June 15th, 2016 by Rachel
The Jewish Museum of Maryland is about to embark on an exciting new project designed to honor our community’s Holocaust survivors. As part of the Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project, we are inviting artist Lori Schocket to spend the next two weeks with us as she facilitates a series of workshops for Holocaust survivors, descendants and their families. (Visit www.thehumanelementproject.com to learn more about similar projects that Lori has facilitated in other communities.)
Participants are asked to bring with them artifacts, including photographs and documents, that highlight their experiences before, during and after the Holocaust, as well as a written statement that summarizes their stories.
A collage from a previous workshop
During the workshops, which last between 2 ½ to 3 hours, Lori, along with a group of JMM staff members and volunteers, will assist participants as they share stories and incorporate the materials they have brought with them into collages on a 10” x 10” foam panel.
Previous workshop participants
Each collage will be reproduced onto a large metal framework that will become an art installation. The installation will be featured in the JMM’s upcoming Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity exhibition on display March 5-May 29, 2016.
Remembering Auschwitz also includes A Town Known As Auschwitz, an exhibition developed by the Museum of Jewish Heritage, A Living Memorial To the Holocaust, and explores the pre-Holocaust history of the town, Oswiecim, where the camp was located.
Workshops take place the following dates, times and locations:
Sunday, June 19: Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, 21202)
Monday, June 20: Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, 21202)
Tuesday, June 21: Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, 21202)
Sunday, June 26: JCC (5700 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, 21215 – In the Community Room)
Monday, June 27: JCC (5700 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, 21215 – In the Community Room)
Tuesday, June 28: JCC (5700 Park Heights Avenue, Baltimore, 21215 – In the Community Room)
Another sample collage
We are pleased to partner with so many different organizations on this project including the Human Element Project, Baltimore Jewish Council, Jewish Communal Services, Center for Jewish Education and the JCC.
Please contact me at 410-732-6400 x236 / firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to register for a workshop.
Posted on April 20th, 2016 by Rachel
Planning for a new JMM core exhibition took a big step forward yesterday with the convening of a planning charrette. (Charrette, the French word for “cart”, refers to an intensive planning session that involves group brainstorming around a set of questions or problems – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charrette ).
Participants included members of the JMM board and lay leaders who are members of our Program Committee as well as museum professionals and consultants, drawn from the fields of exhibition design and audience engagement. Over the course of three hours, group members shared memorable museum exhibition experiences and discussed strategies for creating meaningful core exhibit experiences.
The bulk of the time was spent in small group discussions where participants addressed a series of questions relating to “balance” and “tools”. Conversation on such topics as how one exhibit can meet the needs of diverse audiences (Maryland natives vs. tourists / Jewish vs. non-Jewish / students in groups vs. adults vs. families) and how to integrate the voices of visitors into the exhibition’s design dominated the first breakout session. The second session focused on more concrete tools for conveying content such as how to make effective use of archives and objects and how can we incorporate appropriate technology to enhance exhibit content.
Members from each group faithfully recorded observations and comments on flip chart sheets.
that were then posted on the walls of the room for everyone in the entire group to view. Participants were encouraged to use stickers to note the comments that they felt were most important including statements such as “Don’t forget the importance of Wow!” “Make sure that the exhibit is flexible and can be changed to keep people coming back”, “Resist the urge to show everything”, “The best exhibits are experiences and invite exploration and journeys”.
Museum staff came away feeling energized by all the wonderful ideas and insights (and perhaps also slightly daunted by the challenges we still face in creating an innovative core exhibition that captures the full scope of Maryland Jewish history in a dynamic fashion). The exhibition is slated to open in 2019 so obviously, we are still just in the preliminary stages. Stay tuned for more!
A blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.
Posted on April 8th, 2016 by Rachel
Creating a welcoming museum environment that takes into account visitor needs is an important ongoing goal at the JMM. Whether this means developing exhibition educational resources for school group visitors or offering programs designed to facilitate conversation among visitors of different religious or cultural backgrounds, we take pride in our ability to serve diverse audiences. Providing access for visitors with physical disabilities has always been a Museum priority and in recent months, our staff has taken steps to improve our services in this area.
Recognizing the need to consider the entire spectrum of accessibility issues, this past October, we hired Ingrid Kanics of Kanics Inclusive Design Services to conduct an accessibility audit of the JMM’s public spaces including both of our historic synagogues, galleries, restrooms and library. As part of her survey, she measured door openings, made use of a wheelchair to navigate spaces and considered all aspects of the visitor experience.
Ingrid then drafted a report with recommendations that she shared with Museum staff. We were pleased to note that our Museum facility scored high in many areas. Having recently added a push button option to open our front doors provides easier access for visitors with limited mobility. Many of Ingrid’s recommendations related to signage and our staff has already produced larger signs to help visitors identify public restrooms. At her suggestion, we have created a checklist of items for our visitor services staff to check on a regular basis to ensure, for example, that the mechanical doors are functioning properly and that doors and hallways are kept clear of debris that can pose tripping hazards. Other improvements, based on Ingrid’s recommendations, are slated soon for implementation and include adding covers to drain pipes underneath restroom sinks to avoid burn risks for individuals in wheelchairs and smoothing out the transition strips between the lobby and coat room/restroom area to make for easier navigation for wheelchair users.
Thanks to the contributions of docent, Robyn Hughes, for several years, the JMM has worked to improve our services for visitors who are blind or visually impaired. Robyn helps us create Braille text for flyers, exhibition text and programs (we have both Braille and large print exhibition text for Beyond Chicken Soup available at our front desk) as well as create tours and programs designed specifically for visitors with visual impairments including camp groups from the Maryland School for the Blind who regularly visit.
Large Print Brochure
A priority for this coming year is to improve services for visitors who are deaf or have hearing impairments. While we currently make sure that all exhibit videos are captioned and hire sign language interpreters upon request, we do not currently have the ability to offer accommodations for visitors at public programs who have difficulty hearing speakers or presentations. Our staff recently met with representatives from a company that manufacturers assisted listening devices and learned about how this system can improve sound in our orientation space for program participants. We intend on purchasing a system in the upcoming year that would enable visitors to borrow a receiver from the front desk with an over the ear headphone that would amplify sound in our lobby. The same system could also be used by visitors participating in guided tours of our historic synagogues.
The biggest challenge we face for visitors with physical disabilities is the lack of an easy solution for gaining access to our historic synagogues. Many years ago we created a video tour of the synagogues that is available for visitors to view in our lobby as a programmatic equivalent for those unable to climb the buildings’ stairs. We have also started to video simulcast programs that take place in the Lloyd Street Synagogue for visitors to watch in our orientation space. Of course, we recognize that these steps are not enough, and we are exploring different ways for creating access through ramps and possibly an elevator. B’nai Israel is in the process of adding a chair lift to aid congregants (and Museum visitors) in gaining access to its main sanctuary. And we remain committed to continuing to investigate potential solutions for improving accessibility to the Lloyd Street Synagogue.