Small Improvements, Big Impact: Reshaping the JMM Visitor Experience

Posted on May 12th, 2016 by

Performance Counts May 2016

Many years ago I heard a joke: A very creative man, Moshe, was asked by his more run-of-the-mill friend, Joe, what Joe might do to help him be more like Moshe. Moshe replied, “sometimes, the smallest change makes a big difference in the way that you see the world. Try putting your pants on each morning with the other leg first. It will adjust your whole outlook on things.”

Joe thought Moshe might be crazy, but he tried it anyway. The next time he saw Moshe, he heartily thanked him, “I tried it, I put my pants on left leg first now, and since I started, I’ve been able to come up with creative solutions to problems that once seemed intractable.”

“That’s great!” said Moshe, “but what happened to your face?” referring to the large bruises on Joe’s cheeks and eyes.

“I fall on my face every morning, because I’m putting my pants on the wrong leg first.”

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For whatever reason, and despite the punchline, that joke has really stayed with me. Mostly, I guess, because I believe it to be true: small changes, when they’re the right changes, can lead to big differences in individuals, organizations and cultures.

Some fresh, new landscaping.

Some fresh, new landscaping.

Since I started at the JMM about a year ago, we’ve begun collecting small changes:

*We started accepting credit cards at the front desk, so that our visitors don’t need to interrupt their entry experience to pay with card.

*We’ve moved more shop merchandise into the lobby, and have re-organized what’s in the shop, grouping items by theme, allowing us to make the shop experience also educational.

*Our front doors now feature handicap accessible paddles and power-assist opens.

*We brought in a company to power-wash the scaling from the portico that marks our entrance, and we re-landscaped the beds right out front.

*We’ve worked to stabilize the projector in our orientation space so that it no longer wobbles with the HVAC system’s operation.

*We retired the old Tzedakah box into our Institutional Archives, and had fabricated a new acrylic collection box that allows visitors to see others’ donation and encourages greater giving (the money collected this way has markedly increased!).

Our nifty new donations box.

Our nifty new donations box.

And we’re not done! In the coming weeks and months you can expect to see:

*A new phone system (it’s being installed this week) that will allow direct dial to all JMM staffers

*A new software package that will streamline the visitor entry transaction, and will allow us to better understand our visitors – who they are, where they come from, when they visit, etc.

*A facelift for our public bathrooms, including new lighting, sinks and mirrors

*A refresh of our lobby and orientation space, including fresh paint, new furniture and improved donor recognition panels

Taken together, as we move forward into fiscal year 2017 and beyond, these small changes are really starting to add up to positive developments at the JMM. I hope that you’ll agree, and will join me in celebrating the changes we’ve already made and share with me your ideas about how we can improve the visitor experience at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Tracie Guy-DeckerA blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

 

 

 

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Performance Counts, July 2015: Education at the JMM – A Year in Review

Posted on July 10th, 2015 by

The beginning of summer marks the end of the school year- the time when the education department reviews its activities of the past year to see how our programs and resources have the impacted students, teachers and adult audiences.  We wanted to take the opportunity to share some of our accomplishments with you.

Number of Students:   We are pleased to report that we had a successful year serving close to 4600 area school students from Maryland public, independent, and parochial schools (including Jewish day and congregational schools).  Our breakdown of school attendance is as follows:

Public Schools

District Students Served Number of Schools
Baltimore City 1855 16
Baltimore County 134 4
Frederick County 76 1
Howard County 23 1
Montgomery County 42 1
Prince Georges County 42 1

 

Independent and Parochial Schools and Others**

District Students Served Number of Schools
Anne Arundel County 47 1
Baltimore City 855 19
Baltimore County 37 2
Carroll County 5 1
Frederick County 31 1
Harford County 250   1*
Montgomery County 15 1

 

*Outreach program at John Carroll High School where area high school students from more than a dozen schools participated in Lessons of the Shoah.

 

** We had visitors from Central High School –Philadelphia, PA  and Stockton University-  Galloway, NJ

 

Jewish Day and Congregational Schools 

District Students Served Number of Schools
Anne Arundel County 44 1
Baltimore City 124 4
Baltimore County 561 5
Harford County 14 1
Howard County 124 5
Montgomery County 67 3
Prince Georges County 28 1
Other*** 82 4

 

*** Visitors were from Washington DC, Forest Hills, NY, and Diller Teens from Ashkelon, Israel

Educational Programs and Activities

T he JMM education department continues to provide high quality educational resources that align with Common Core goals and objectives that enhance the social studies curriculum. Education programs include field trips and tours of our historic synagogues and changing exhibitions, and  outreach programs in the classroom such as our successful Immigrant’s Trunk living history program (students learn about immigration history through dramatic one-person plays based on the real lives of real life immigrants  who settled in Baltimore in the early 20th century). Other programs include enrichment activities such as art projects and creative writing workshops.  We also have History Kits and archival explorations on a number of topics available for school groups.

The Amazing Mendes Cohen Education Activities

Using puzzle pieces as the motivation and hook for students- the education department created two separate activities for both elementary/middle school and high school groups using puzzle pieces to engage students.  Our younger visitors were given blank puzzles and explored their own identity using the puzzle pieces from the exhibition describing different attributes of Mendes Cohen.  How was Mendes Cohen a family man?  How are you part of a family?  How was Mendes Cohen a patriotic American?  How are you a patriotic American? Where did Mendes Cohen travel?  Where have you travelled?  How was Mendes Cohen a civic advocate? What are some ways that you demonstrate being a civic advocate?  The students loved filling in their puzzle pieces and then putting the actual puzzles together and sharing with their friends and family.

The older students were also given an activity that involved looking at the puzzle pieces describing the attributes for Mendes Cohen.  They were challenged to find the supporting evidence in the text panels of the exhibit to help them understand the many facets of Mendes Cohen.  In addition to these activities, all of the students enjoyed the interactive activities in the exhibit- especially the powder magazine and the world map stringing activity.

Students loved racing against the clock to ensure that the powder magazine did not explode and learning about the names of countries and cities throughout Europe and the Middle East where Cohen travelled. Another exhibit highlight for students was the section of the exhibit where they learned about the story of Cohen creating a flag for his trip down the Nile, viewing the actual flag he created and then making their own flag to hoist up the mast. In addition, to these activities done in conjunction with the exhibit, the education staff put together  a curriculum for teachers that includes lesson plans for elementary , middle and high school audiences.

Living History Performances:

Both school and adult groups scheduled living history performances both on-site at the Museum and at offsite venues throughout the year.  These living history performances, portrayed by professional actors, tell the story of actual Jewish immigrants to Baltimore.  Below is a breakdown of performances this year.

Living History Character Number of Performances Audience
Ida Rehr 18 790
Bessie Bluefeld 5 322
Mendes Cohen 16 836
Saul Bernstein 1 26

 

Professional Development for Teachers and Museum Professionals

Professional development for teachers continues to be an important component of our educational program. We served more teachers this past year than in FY 14 (503 in FY 15 as compared to 439 in FY 14) with workshops devoted to topics including immigration and American history, world religions, Holocaust, and working with primary sources. Our annual Summer Teachers Institute remains a popular professional development opportunity for teachers. Below is the breakdown of districts and those served.

 

District Number of Workshops Audience
Baltimore City 3 90
Baltimore County 1 40
Harford County 4 157
Prince Georges County 2 170
Montgomery County 1 45

 

In addition to these workshops, the JMM education staff attended and facilitated two workshops at the AASLH – American Association of State Local History Museums in St. Paul, MN and also the MSCSS – Middle States Council for Social Studies in Gettysburg, PA.

Kudos to our Volunteer Docents and Museum Educators:

The education department has been privileged to work with committed volunteer docents and museum educators throughout the year in an effort to facilitate our education programs.  Kudos and thank you to  volunteer docents  Barbara Cohen, Harvey Karch, and Lois Fekete in working specifically with our school age audiences.  Special thanks to the amazing museum educators who have also helped promote our education programs. … Virginia Steiner, Jessie Gordon, Arielle Kaden, Emma Glaser, Sean Schumacher, Carolyn Bevans, Kelly Suredam, Abby Krolik and Graham Humphrey.

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Museum Matters, July 2015: The Price of Success

Posted on July 3rd, 2015 by

It’s New Years…again.  At JMM we typically mark three New Years – the Jewish New Year in September, the secular New Years in January and the fiscal New Years on the 1st of July.  On this July New Years we don’t blow the shofar or pull out our noisemakers, but we do think deeply about what we have accomplished and the challenges ahead.

This has been a great year for innovative exhibits (Electrified Pickle, A-Mazing Mendes Cohen), community engagement (Historic Jonestown visioning project, Beth T’filoh-Beit Hatfutsot partnership) and public/private fundraising (Beyond Chicken Soup).  Next year we are not only delivering two marquee exhibits (Paul Simon: Words and Music and the aforementioned Beyond Chicken Soup), but also new synagogue tours, a new neighborhood festival and additional family-oriented programs.

Those are the accomplishments that grab the headlines.  However, equally important work is happening behind the scenes.  We are strengthening our intern program and providing opportunities through the city’s YouthWorks program for young people from the city.  Our crew of volunteers is making our archives more accessible with finding aids and digitization.  We are upgrading our computer hardware and introducing a museum-wide project management software tool.  These bits of infrastructure improvement are essential to our success.

To keep our organization moving forward we need a broad spectrum of support:  our partnership with The Associated, grants from public agencies and private foundations, income from endowment, growth in membership and support from visitors who receive our services.  Over the past three years we have taken steps to increase support in the first three categories.  This year, our focus is on membership and admissions.

The JMM has not changed its admission fees since 2004.  The undiscounted fee for one adult admission has been $8 – but there are so many forms of discounts, for seniors, for children, free evening events, free to city school groups, buy-one-get-one-free days, etc. that the average price of admission is closer to $3.

Starting today, we will be raising our adult admission price to $10.  We will continue to offer discounts for seniors, children, AAA and more.  Most critically, we will maintain our policy of being free to city school groups and we will be introducing a special discount package to family events this fall.  Our goal is to maintain access for all, while also making sure that our visitors are full participants in the keeping JMM a thriving institution.

Adult – $10

Senior (65+) – $8

Student (13 and over) -$6

Child (4 to 12) – $4

Non-public school (as part of school group) – $2

Public school (as part of school group) – FREE

Children under 4 – FREE

Member – FREE

With guest pass – FREE

 

Upcoming programs

*Reminder: The Museum offices will be closed on Friday, July 3, 2015 in observance of the holiday.

All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact Trillion Attwood at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org / 410-732-6400 x215 with any questions or for more information.

 

Cinema Judaica: Members opening reception

Thursday, July 2, 6:00 p.m.

Free for Museum members

Cinema Judaica is Open!

Cinema Judaica is Open!

We invite Museum members to join us for the opening reception of Cinema Judaica. Take the opportunity to explore the exhibit in the company of Ken Sutak, author of Cinema Judaica: The War Years, 1939-1949 prior to his presentation The Great Debate, 1939—1941: How Harry Warner, Ernst Toller, and Alvin York Helped Win “The Great Debate” for American Interventionists.

Cocktails and light kosher refreshments will be served.

 

The Great Debate, 1939—1941: How Harry Warner, Ernst Toller, and Alvin York Helped Win “The Great Debate” for American Interventionists

Thursday, July 2nd, 7:00 p.m.

Speaker: Ken Sutak, author and curator

Included with Museum Admission

Curator Ken Sutak

Curator Ken Sutak

Ken Sutak, author of Cinema Judaica: The War Years, will explore how three unexpected men influenced the outcome World War II. Harry Warner, president of Warner Bros, Ernst Toller émigré Prussian-Jewish playwright and Alvin York, the immortal Sergeant York of WW I fame, who later became the most important interventionist spokesperson during “The Great Debate.” These three men were in the forefront of those who managed to change popular American opinion regarding World War II and help prepare the country for war.

 

Flickering Treasures

Sunday, July 12, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker: Amy Davis

Included with Museum Admission

Photo by Amy Davis.

Photo by Amy Davis.

Celebrate the golden age of movie-going with Baltimore photographer and author Amy Davis as she presents photographs from her upcoming book, Flickering Treasures: Rediscovering Baltimore’s Forgotten Movie Theaters. Her talk will explore the integral role of Jews in Baltimore cinema, as theater owners, operators and moviegoers. The collection of vintage and new photographs in Flickering Treasures tells a fresh story of Baltimore through the cultural prism of film exhibition. Participants will be invited to travel back in time to share reminiscences of their own favorite movie houses.

Photojournalist Amy Davis has garnered many national awards since joining the staff of The Baltimore Sun in 1987. Her fine art training from The Cooper Union informs her documentary approach. Her photographic work has been exhibited at The Brooklyn Museum, and is in the collection of the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York.

Creative Alliance, a lively non-profit arts organization based in the Patterson Theatre in Highlandtown, is the fiscal sponsor for Flickering Treasures.

August

SUMMER TEACHERS INSTITUTE

Auschwitz 70 Years Later: What Have We Learned?

August 3, 8:30am-3:30pm: Jewish Museum of Maryland

August 4, 7:30am-4:30pm: US Holocaust Memorial Museum (transportation provided)

August 5, 8:30am-3:30pm: Goucher College Hillel

$25 registration fee

To register or for more information, contact Deborah Cardin, 410-732-6400 x236 / dcardin@jewishmuseummd.org.

Co-sponsors: Baltimore Jewish Council and the Maryland State Department of Education

Join us for our annual Summer Teachers Institute that explores the significance of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz through scholarly lectures, survivor testimony and master teacher presentations.

JMM FEATURES FILM CLASSICS

Sundays in August are double features at JMM – lectures by day and related films at night.  Make a day of it, come down to the JMM for the lecture, then grab a bite to eat and come back for the movie. Enjoy a short walk to Little Italy or Harbor East with their selections of great restaurants, or bring a picnic that you are welcome to enjoy in our outdoor courtyard or our slightly cooler lobby.

Join us, rain or shine, for this exciting series. Screenings will take place in the parking lot directly in front of the museum. There is still plenty of free street parking available. In the event of inclement weather, screenings will be moved to inside the JMM. The lectures are included with admission and the films are free.

Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator:” Fighting Fascism with a Movie

Sunday, August 9th at 3:00 p.m.

Dr. David Ward, University of Pittsburgh

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin was the most important film maker in Hollywood, when he decided to parody Adolph Hitler in The Great Dictator.  Little did he know that he was entering into the most controversial chapter of his life, a controversy that would eventually drive him from the United States.

Dr. Ward graduated from Hanover College in southern Indiana and holds an MA and PhD from the University of Tulsa.  He has taught film and Literature in both Oklahoma and Pennsylvania for over 40 years and is now happily retired.

 

JMM Features: The Great Dictator

Sunday, August 9, 8:00 p.m.

Location: Parking lot across the street from the JMM entrance

FREE

The_Great_Dictator

In connection with our latest exhibit Cinema Judaica we bring you JMM Features, a series of free movie screenings. Our first movie is The Great Dictator, a Charlie Chaplin classic featured in Cinema Judaica. Dictator Adenoid Hynkel tries to expand his empire while a poor Jewish barber tries to avoid persecution from Hynkel’s regime.

 

Drawing Fievel and Friends

fievel_mousekewitz_by_concretequeen-d3nb702

Sunday, August 16, 3:00 p.m.

Included with museum admission

Even more fun than a lecture … get ready for the movie by drawing your own scenes of Jewish cartoon characters.

 

JMM Features: American Tail

Sunday, August 16, 5:30 p.m.

Location: JMM orientation space

FREE

AnAmericanTail

Second in our movie series is American Tail. This classic animation follows the story of Fievel, who while emigrating to the United States, as a young Russian mouse, gets separated from his family and must relocate them while trying to survive in a new country. Featuring Dom DeLuise, Christopher Plummer and Nehemiah Persoff, directed by Don Bluth.

 

Jewish Movies 101

Sunday, August 23, 3:00 p.m.

Dr. Greg Metcalf, University of Maryland

Included with Museum Admission

Greg Metcalf is an artist and a scholar who teaches film, television, literature, modern art history, cultural history, and their relationship to each other at the University of Maryland and the Maryland Institute College of Art. He is the author of The DVD Novel: How The Way We Watch Television Changed the Television (2012).

 

JMM Features: Gentleman’s Agreement

Sunday, August 23, 8:00 p.m.

Location: Parking lot across the street from the JMM entrance

FREE

Gentleman's Agreement OS, NM

Join us for the last feature in our movie series. First released in 1947, Gentleman’s Agreement follows a reporter (Gregory Peck) who pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism, and personally discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred. Based on Laura Hobson’s novel of the same name. Also featuring Dorothy McGuire, John Garfield and Celeste Holm, directed by Elia Kazan.

 

Jewish Mad Men: Advertising and the Design of the American Jewish Experience 1939-1971

Sunday, August 31, 3:00 p.m.

Dr. Kerri Steinberg, Otis College or Art and Design

Included with Museum Admission

 

In a commercial society advertising can provide a fascinating insight into social values. Dr. Steinberg’s talk explores how advertising in the 1950s and 60s shed light on the social position of Jewish Americans.

More Programs

The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit bnaiisraelcongregation.org.  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on facebook.

Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland July Meeting    

Sunday, July 19, 1:30pm, Beth El Congregation (8181 Park Heights Avenue)

Jewish Genealogy – How to Start, Where to Look, What’s Available

Speaker: Lara Diamond

The program is free for paid members and $5 for non-members. Refreshments will be available. Go to www.jgsmd.org for more information.

Exhibits

Exhibits currently on display include Cinema Judaica (on display through September 6, 2015), Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, and The Synagogue Speaks!

Hours and Tour Times

The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm.

Combination tours of the 1845 Lloyd Street Synagogue and the 1876 Synagogue Building now home to B’nai Israel are offered: Sunday through Thursday at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm.  We offer tours focused on the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Sunday through Thursday at 3:00pm and on Sunday at 4:00pm.

 Get Involved

The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 or icohen@jewishmuseummd.org.

Membership

Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.

All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street.

Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchased online! http://jewishmuseummd.org/get-involved/museum-membership/ For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org.

JMM Museum Shop

CINEMA JUDAICA!  It ‘s here! The JMM Museum Shop is ready with your favorite DVDs from 1939 to 1945 and even later!  Grab your bag of popcorn, pick up one of your favorite films from the JMM Museum Shop, such as Gentleman’s Agreement, Samson and Delilah, Exodus, Ten Commandments and of course, Fiddler on the Roof!  We’ve got them all for you, but not the popcorn, you are on your own with the snacks!

DVD covers

And for your reading pleasure, pick up a copy of Ken Sutak’s, CINEMA JUDAICA:  The War Years, 1939-1945, the catalog for this great exhibition.  You will be glad that you did.

Exhibit Catalog Cover

Exhibit Catalog Cover

Every purchase made in the JMM Museum Shop supports the mission and programs of the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

JMM Members receive a 10% discount on all purchases.

For further information, please call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 or email:  eweiner@jewishmuseummd.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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