Posted on May 15th, 2015 by Rachel
JMM has always prided itself on its small, dedicated team of outstanding professionals. It’s amazing what a dozen people can do, when you have great talent supported by strong volunteers and lay leadership.
This month has brought two new members to the team to existing/future vacancies. I thought that we’d use this issue of JMM Insights to introduce Tracie Guy-Decker, our new Associate Director for Projects, Planning and Finance, and Graham Humphrey who will replace Abby Krolik as Visitor Services Manager. I am really excited to have Tracie and Graham on board and I know you will join me in welcoming them into our family. I have asked them both to tell a bit of their own stories.
My great great grandmother, Dora Bachrach Fink, was a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation when it was in the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Now that I am Associate Director at JMM, every day, I sit at a computer that is but yards from the place my ancestors worshipped more than a century ago. Working for JMM is also a homecoming for me professionally—a return to working with and for the Jewish community. (I served as the Marketing Director for the Jewish Federation and the JCC in Virginia Beach until my husband, a Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy, received orders that moved us to Maryland.)
Tracie and her husband Dave.
This is an exciting time for JMM, and I’m honored and humbled to be able to be a part of it. My colleagues are smart, funny, capable professionals, and under Marvin’s leadership the Museum is on a trajectory to become a center for Jewish and secular history and culture in Baltimore—not tomorrow, but soon. I’m excited to lend my skills, expertise, and experience to that trajectory (and to learn new skills along the way!). I’m also excited to be able to share this amazing resource with my daughter, Ruth (3 years old). The Museum family will watch Ruth and the Museum grow together over the next several years.
Ruth enjoying the rocket seats at Patterson Park
I’m also heartened by the welcome I’ve received from all of the friends of the Museum thus far—professionals, lay leaders, volunteers, members, and visitors have all been amazingly friendly and helpful as I learn my way around (literally and figuratively). I’d love the opportunity to reciprocate that welcome: if you’re in the Museum, please stop by. You can tell me your story of the Museum or the Lloyd Street Synagogue, we could play “Jewish Geography,” or just say ‘hi,’ I’m here Monday through Thursday, and will never turn down a cup of coffee.
Hello! My name is Graham Humphrey and I was recently hired to be the new Visitor Services Coordinator to replace Abby Krolik after she leaves the Museum at the end of the month to continue her studies. I received my MA in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and my BA from Brandeis University in Art History. For the past seven years, I have been working at museums, aboard sailboats and at National Park sites in visitor services, education, development and collections management. I have gotten to lead experiential education programs while dressed up in period costume at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, teach basic seamanship to students aboard the schooner the Lady Maryland and work with goats at the Carl Sandburg Home in North Carolina. In my free time, I enjoy visiting other museums and historic sites, exploring the great outdoors, attending cultural events and staying involved within the Jewish community.
I am excited about continuing to make the Jewish Museum a welcoming environment and to ensure that visitors have a rewarding experience. I also hope to encourage public discourse about contemporary issues, explore how we can engage new audiences as well as serve as agents for social change in our community.
Marvin’s note: We don’t plan I having Graham work with goats… but a “Jewish pirates sail”, well who knows what is possible.
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!