Posted on May 8th, 2015 by Rachel
So how are our volunteers doing?
Just in case anyone reading this newsletter is unfamiliar with the role of volunteers at JMM we offer this helpful guide:
Volunteers are a treasured JMM resource. Our volunteers play an important role in helping the Museum fulfill its mission. They provide many valuable services that supplement the basic essential functions of the staff. We utilize volunteers in two distinct areas – the front of the museum and the back of the museum. The volunteers in the front of the museum have direct contact with our visitors. The remaining volunteers work in the back of the museum and can generally be found in the library. Complete training is offered for all of our volunteer positions.
At the front desk
Front Desk Reception
The front desk reception volunteers provide an invaluable service to the Museum by maintaining a warm and welcome atmosphere for Museum guests. They serve as the Museum’s customer service representatives while orienting visitors to the Museum complex. By informing visitors about tour times, current and upcoming exhibitions, and programs, they provide information about all services that the Museum offers. Other tasks include processing admission fees for groups and individuals, answering the telephone, and maintaining an accurate daily count of visitors.
Museum docents possess an interest in history and enjoy sharing their knowledge with others. They perform an essential duty by leading tours and by interpreting the history of the Museum’s two historic synagogues and exhibitions for adults, families, and school groups of all ages. A series of training sessions is offered to those interested in joining our docent corps and focuses on the history of Baltimore’s Jewish community.
Museum Gift Shop
The Museum’s gift shop, filled with beautiful Judaica, Museum catalogs, and exhibition related merchandise, is a destination for Museum visitors. Gift shop volunteers assist guests with purchases, process cash and credit card payments, arrange merchandise on shelves and in windows, and assist the shop manager with ordering merchandise and conducting store inventory.
Throughout the year, the Museum holds many programs and special events. Programs include exhibition openings, family holiday programs, lectures, film series, and theatrical and musical performances. Special event volunteers provide much needed assistance with these events by greeting visitors, processing admission fees, maintaining an accurate count of visitors, helping with refreshments, selling memberships, and facilitating art projects.
Working in the archives department
The Library and Archives of the JMM offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. Projects include organizing archival collections, preparing collections for proper storage, creating documents to assist researchers, and digital imaging. Archives projects are conducive to long term or temporary volunteering. Typing and computer skills are preferred, but not always required. All new volunteers will be given an orientation to the care and handling of archival objects.
Volunteers in the collections department will work on a variety of projects. These include writing catalog records for objects, taking digital photographs of objects (camera provided, or you can use your own), organizing collection records, sorting incoming artifacts, helping to store and pack artifacts, and preparing objects in the collection for exhibition. Temporary assignments are available. Experience in the handling of fragile items is desired, but not required.
Volunteers use their expertise to assist researchers in The Robert L. Weinberg Family History Center. They offer support with the interpretation of the many resources available for pursuing family history and genealogical research. This includes providing lookups, searching out tombstones, and much more. Experience in genealogical research is required.
The Bottom Line
All told our volunteers contribute over 7,000 hours annually. This number also includes members of our Board of Directors and our Summer Interns. The Independent Sector values an hour of volunteer time in the state of Maryland at $26.41. That calculates to a contribution of almost $185,000.00 to the JMM in the last year. We welcome new volunteers to the JMM year round and appreciate our volunteers dearly. Please contact Volunteer Coordinator, Ilene Cohen at 410-732-6400 x217.
Posted on April 17th, 2015 by Rachel
I have a fixed lunch date on Sunday afternoons at 1pm with my machatonim (in-laws). As much as we—or at least I—would much rather come to the JMM for one of your many, fabulous lectures and programs at that time, skipping these lunches is just not a negotiable matter. Sadly, it seems that all of your programs are at 1pm on Sundays. It’s very frustrating! Can’t you ever have them at a different time or day?
Dear Filial Obligations,
The good news is that we do, in fact, offer public programming at times other than 1pm on a Sunday afternoon. The bad news is that, yes, the majority of our programs do take place on Sunday afternoons because we’ve consistently gotten the best attendance at those programs. It’s probably because they are on a weekend afternoon when people are likely to want to do something fun downtown.
However, we do periodically host events at other times, including our quarterly Late Night on Lloyd Street events, which are typically on Wednesday or Thursday evenings, from 6pm-9pm. We even have a lecture coming up on May 7th that everyone should mark on their calendars! This is the Sadie B. Feldman lecture; we present this lecture annually, and this year it features professor of History and Jewish Studies, Pam Nadell, who will speak about the lives of early Jewish American women such as Judith Cohen (Mendes Cohen’s mother).
Also, this summer we will host several outdoor movie screenings in our back lot in conjunction with the upcoming exhibit, Cinema Judaica. More information about that will be arriving in the next few months—so stay tuned, folks!
Hypothetically speaking, if an extremely wealthy person were to be inspired by a few ghostly visions of the past and future—which demonstrated to said person the errors of his or her miserly and uncharitable ways—to donate a vast fortune to the JMM, how would that person go about it?
Thank you for your assistance.
Asking for a “Friend”
Dear Asking for a “Friend,”
Hypothetically speaking, if a person were to decide to donate any sum of money to the Jewish Museum of Maryland, that person should speak to Sue Foard, our administrative assistant who handles monetary donations (not to be confused with Joanna Church, our collections manager, who handles object donations). Sue will be happy to lead you through the process.
Thank you very much for your generosity! As a relatively small non-profit organization, we appreciate any gift, small or “vast”!
I read in one of your earlier columns that you answered the question of how to schedule an adult group tour (6/21/14 “The Fairest Housekeeper of Them All”); could you tell me how do I arrange a visit for my students?
I’m a very unconventional, hands-on kind of educator. I prefer for my students to really get inside the subject that we’re learning—whether it’s the digestive system or outer space, I make sure my students have a magical learning experience! I’ve heard from other teachers that the JMM has a similar approach to learning, and I’d love to learn more about what my students can do at your museum.
Is it true that you can offer transportation to and from the museum to school groups? If it is, then that’s a very generous offer, but thankfully, I have my own trusty school bus that we use for everything. How much is the admission for school groups? Is there a minimum or maximum for how many students I can bring?
The Teacher with the Magic School Bus
Come down for a visit!
Dear Magic School Bus,
We would love for you to bring your students to the JMM, and I’m sure we can find activities that will complement their studies in a very immersive way! It’s true that our Education Department prides itself on developing educational programming that builds multiple, core skills while also teaching content. For example, students from 2nd to 8th grade can put on their archaeologist’s hats while learning about the early history of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Many—if not most—of our exhibit activities involve practicing critical thinking skills that are easily adapted for different grades and abilities.
To schedule a group visit, you will need to contact our Visitor Services Coordinator, who is in charge of the museum’s calendar. She will tell you which dates and activities are available to you—it’s best to contact her at least three weeks in advance. It helps if you describe what it is your students are currently studying, so we can find the best match of activities that will deepen your students’ knowledge and their museum experience.
The maximum number of students that we can accommodate at one time is 55. If you have 100 students, this means that we could, potentially, serve 50 of them in the morning and 50 in the afternoon. We require that each group have at least one adult chaperone (a teacher, a parent, etc.) per ten students.
For private schools, we charge only $2 per student and $3 per non-teacher chaperone. Teachers accompanying school groups to the Museum are always free!
For all Maryland public K-12 schools, we are happy to waive the admission fee and to provide up to one free school bus (which typically holds 44 passengers). We know this makes a big difference for many public schools. For schools that are coming from farther away than Baltimore County, we ask that the teacher find a bus charter company that is local to their area, and we will still pay for it.
Once you have scheduled a visit with the Visitor Services Coordinator, she will send you a confirmation form to fill out and return as soon as possible. Then, two business days before the scheduled field trip, each teacher is required to contact the JMM—by phone or email—to confirm the number of students and chaperones coming. This may sound redundant, but it is really helpful for us to have a final head count ahead of the visit! The numbers almost always change between the time of booking and the visit itself, and we need to know how many educators and materials we need for the group. We also need to know that the school group is prepared with the right number of chaperones.
I look forward to speaking with you in more detail about bringing your class on a field trip here!
Posted on March 13th, 2015 by Rachel
Have you been keeping up with the Museum’s blog? If not, hopefully this month’s Performance Counts will convince you it’s a must read. I’ve asked Rachel Kassman, the Museum’s marketing manager and self-appointed “social media maven” to share with you what makes our blog special and to give you some behind the scenes data.
A (Very) Little History
The JMM blog was born in the summer of 2008 as a way to follow along with the restoration of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. However it didn’t take us long to realize the blog could be so much more – a way to share all kinds of stories about the Museum, its projects, and its people. It’s also been a great way to make information easily accessible for a wide audience- for instance, did you know that each issue of Museum Matters, Performance Counts and JMM Insights is posted on the blog?
Since its birth in 2008 we’ve posted 1,300 blog posts, which averages to a post every other day. Our longest running regular feature is the weekly “Once Upon a Time” series, which illustrates our partnership with the Baltimore Jewish Times in an effort to identify people in photographs that are part of our collection (there are 282 posts in this series – and we’re about 8 months behind the in-print version). Another regular feature is the monthly “Volunteer Spotlight” series, written by Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen and usually posted on the first Monday of each month – we’re up to 15 so far and hope to eventually highlight all of our wonderful volunteers in this manner. A newer feature is the post-programs wrap up – while the posting dates for this feature are irregular we try to get them up within a few days of a public program, to give readers a feel for what they missed if they couldn’t make the program. We’ve even started recording select programs for later listening! (You can check out our very first program recording here.) These posts are also shared on the Museum’s social media platforms and selected posts are highlighted on the homepage of the JMM website to increase the potential audience.
Who’s Writing This Stuff?
Our prime blog contributors are museum staff – every month I send out a call, asking folks to sign up for an open date. Opening up blog authorship to the entire staff keeps the blog’s “voice” diverse and helps make sure we highlight and share stories and information from all areas of the Museum. I’m incredibly proud of the interesting, well-thought out content my colleagues provide every month. We also ask our interns and volunteers to join us in our blogging efforts, providing another set of perspectives on what goes on here at the JMM. Summer is an especially active time for our blog because we host anywhere from five to a dozen interns for ten full weeks, which provides plenty of opportunities for blog fodder (including intern field trips, workshops, and project updates).
Navigating The Blog
Let’s talk about tags – those are the lists of words at the bottom of every blog post:
Tags are a way to organize the content on a blog. In our case we use the tags to help identify the author and some of the main subjects included in the post. For instance, let’s say you were reading a really great post, like “Mazel Cufflinks” by Collections Manager Joanna Church. If you get to the end of the post and think, hey, this Joanna character is a really fun writer, I wonder what else she’s done…all you have to do is click on her name in the tags and you’ll find all the posts she’s written for the blog! Or maybe you caught Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon’s latest post “A Little Kindness…” which documents a surprise visit by 84 high school students and you wanted to know more about all the exciting things the education staff gets up to. Just click on “education” in the tags and you’ll get a plethora of related posts. If you’ve got a hankering for intriguing history, you should definitely explore Marvin’s tag – start with his recent President’s Day post and work your way back!
Highlights and Favorites
To round out this month’s Performance Counts I informally polled the staff for their favorite posts from the blog – and got some interesting results!
Both Assistant Director Deborah Cardin and Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon cited the Volunteer Spotlight series as their favorite feature. Deborah loves “learning interesting tidbits about our volunteers. They are an impressive bunch!” and Ilene thinks its great to see another side of them.
Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik picked “Buried Alive: Eighteenth Century Terror and a “Superstar” Jewish Doctor”, a particularly ghoulish post from Curator Karen Falk, inspired by her research for our upcoming Jews and Medicine exhibit. Programs Associate Carolyn Bevans’ pick also took a slightly macabre turn with “An Engagement Ring of a Different Color,” Collections Manager Joanna Church’s Halloween-inspired collection blog.
Joanna herself went a very different direction with her favorite. She says “Before my interview I read Deborah’s awesome post about Flat Mendes on her family vacation, and I thought, Yes, I can work there.”
Curator Karen Falk, funnily enough, found her favorite blog post through a different website entirely: Wikipedia! That’s right, in the course of doing research on Read’s Pharmacy she found a reference to Dr. Deb Weiner’s post “Read’s Drug Store: The Jewish Connection” on the Read’s Wikipedia page and followed it right back to our blog.
When I asked Marvin for his “best picks” he went above and beyond with a full Oscar-style slate! Here are his award-winning posts (from the last 6 months!):
Best comedy: Yet More Responses from the Mendes Questions Box by Abby Krolik
Best history story: Buried Alive: Eighteenth Century Terror and a “Superstar” Jewish Doctor by Karen Falk
Best event report: Sephardic lecture by Carolyn Bevans
Best photo documentary: The Making of an Exhibit: Mendes Arrives by Deborah Cardin
Best reason to visit our website: Appreciate a Dragon Day by Rachel Kassman
Best travelogue: A European Adventure by Abby Krolik
Best biography: Volunteer Spotlight on Marty Buckman by Ilene Cohen
Best blog by an intern: Maimonides by Barbara Israelson
Best Blog of FY ’15 (so far): It’s a tie between National Umbrella Day and National Handwriting Day, both by Joanna Church
My favorites? How can I pick – as the blog maven I feel like all the posts are special to me in their own way and I wouldn’t want to play favorites among my lovely contributors. But I will tell you my favorite post that I’ve ever written – “Appreciate a Dragon Day!” I had so much fun putting that post together that I still smile every time I look at it. I hope you’ll click on some of the links I’ve shared here and spend a little time exploring the wild and wonderful world of the JMM blog!
~Rachel Kassman, Development and Marketing Manager (aka Social Media Maven)