JMM Insights November 2015

Posted on November 20th, 2015 by


The end of an era

If you’re one of the tens of thousands of people who’ve visited the JMM over the past 23 years, there’s a good chance you’ve met Esther Weiner.

Everyone's favorite shop manager.

Everyone’s favorite shop manager.

Esther’s warm hospitality has been a mainstay of the Museum Store and the Museum for as long as anyone can remember. In 1992, then a member, Esther answered a help wanted ad in the Museum’s newsletter.

At first, her duties mainly consisted of administrative work in the back office, but somewhere along the way, the store fell into her lap. Despite being new to retail, Esther tackled her new task with gusto, and she succeeded marvelously. It’s the only way she knows how to do things!

Now, more than two decades since she answered that newsletter ad, it is with mixed feelings (sad for us, happy for her) that we report that as of December 2015, Esther will be applying her warmth and gusto to the next chapter of her life. We wish her all the best as she exits our gift shop, leaving it far better than it was when she got there.

We would like to invite our Board, our members, our volunteers and our staff to join us in a “Tribute to Esther” on December 14 at 6:30 p.m.  Come join us as we share stories and photos stretching across nearly all of the Museum’s history.

The fruits of her labor

Esther’s good nature, good sense and good taste have built the Museum Store into an institution that supports the mission of the JMM even as it enhances the experience of our visitors. If you haven’t been into the store recently now is the time to come and enjoy the fruits of her labor.  There are so many great items we’ve added that make perfect holiday gifts.

Pictures are a record clock, a record bowl, and a selection of cds.

Selections from the shop

For instance, in support of the Paul Simon exhibit, the Museum Store is offering playful books, toys, art objects and gifts chosen to complement the character of the experiences in our galleries and our programs. From clocks, bowls and journals crafted from old vinyl records to pull-back racers that remind us of the flower-power of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘60s to the lovely catalogue published by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Museum Store lets  visitors share a bit of their Paul Simon experience with family and friends.

We’re also excited to be carrying new products featuring the newly-launched JMM logo. Be the first on your block to sport the new JMM baseball cap or quaff down that coffee with a JMM/Jonestown mug – can’t guarantee it will taste better, just that it will be in good taste.

Add JMM to your Black Friday plans

For the first time in its history, the Jewish Museum of Maryland will be open the day after Thanksgiving (from 10am to 3pm)! The unusual Black Friday opening not only provides an alternative to the madness at the malls, it also gives us an opportunity to join in Story Corp’s National Day of Listening.  Make a reservation for an interview between you and a family member to record a significant family memory.  Stories recorded at JMM will be preserved at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.  I can’t think of a more precious holiday gift… but just in case you want to top off your story with a tangible treat – Esther is offering a rare one-day sale in the Store: nearly everything but the Simon merchandise will be marked down 20%! We’ve got gifts for everyone on your holiday list, from baby to bubbe.

P.S. Don’t forget Nora Guthrie is coming to speak on Sunday.

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Performance Counts November 2015: The Benefits of Membership

Posted on November 13th, 2015 by

In this month’s Performance Counts, we’ve asked Tracie Guy-Decker, Associate Director for Projects, Planning and Finance to give you the inside scoop on JMM museum membership.


In 1982, I became a member of the Wonder Woman fan club. The benefits of membership were few, and I delighted in them: a membership card, bearing my name and the beloved red, white and gold WW that was synonymous with the Amazonian super hero; signed photos from Lynda Carter; bragging rights.

I was six years old. Bragging rights were enough.

Who wouldn't wear this pin with pride?

Who wouldn’t wear this pin with pride?


Members of the JMM certainly have bragging rights. JMM is the leading museum of regional Jewish history, the site of the oldest synagogue in Maryland, the third oldest in the country. We are innovative programmers, award-winning exhibit designers and an increasingly popular destination. Most importantly, we contribute to the well-being of our community through educational activities that complement the classroom and inspire inquiring minds.

Perhaps being a part of all of this should be enough to convince people to join the JMM. But there is more!

Membership to the Jewish Museum of Maryland comes with some pretty nifty privileges and benefits over and above the feel-good, bragging-rights results.

What’s more, we have multiple membership levels: not only does each level increase those feel-good vibes, but it also brings additional tangible benefits.

Consider these:

*Members get free entry to as many of our great programs as they choose (and there are a lot to choose from!). We had a dozen new members sign up for the opening weekend of Paul Simon – just to take part in the exclusive members only concert.

Just take a look, at what we’ve got coming up! I’m particularly excited about Holy Ground: Woody Guthrie’s Yiddish Connection, a talk by Woody’s daughter, Nora Guthrie, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and the SONiA disappear fear concert in January.  And mark your calendars, there is another members’ exclusive event coming up on the evening of March 12 for Beyond Chicken Soup:  Jews and Medicine in America, details to follow in upcoming newsletters.

Not to be missed!

*Our premium members (Lombard Street Club and above) receive discounts on the most famous corned beef in the city at Attman’s Deli across the Street.

*Premium members also receive reciprocal discounts or admission at local history museums and Jewish museums around the country. Check out the full list of participating museums here.

*Members at the Living History Circle Level and above receive a Museum-selected publication each year. This year you’ll enjoy the beautiful catalogue, produced by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Paul Simon: Words + Music. It contains facsimiles of key artifacts in the exhibit, and complements the story of the iconic singer-songwriter. (As a side note, if you read my blog post about the Paul Simon exhibit you won’t be surprised that I’m giving this catalogue as a gift to both myself and my sister this Hanukkah.)

A fine looking catalog.

Take a look at all of our membership levels and their perks here.

If you’ve been thinking about joining, or about upgrading your membership, now’s the time. If there’s someone in your life who isn’t yet a JMM member and ought to be, consider a gift membership for the holidays. There are some bragging rights that are too good to keep to yourself!

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Performance Counts: Promotions, Marketing, Paul Simon, and the Museum

Posted on October 9th, 2015 by

In today’s Performance Counts we ask the question, “how do you get noticed”?  Well, if you’re a presidential candidate you probably just say something outrageous, but if you’re a small gem of a Museum in Jonestown it calls for a different strategy.  This month you might have seen our name attached to a familiar rock star’s face on a circulator bus or noticed a 30 foot inflatable guitar on the top of our building.  You might have seen an AP story that’s making the rounds (the Jewish Museum of Maryland covered in Idaho?) or looked at this morning and seen a top story from WBAL: “Baltimore museum hosts Paul Simon exhibit.”  You might have even seen something on the front page of yesterday’s Baltimore Sun about our involvement in working with Historic Jonestown.

You might think this is all just good fortune (and we’d be the first to be thankful for all our good luck).  But it’s easier to be lucky when we have a talented team putting our name forward.  Our success to date, and we strongly suspect there is more to come, is based on a combination of four forces – our in-house marketing team (mainly Tracie and Rachel), our colleagues at The Associated, our partners at Visit Baltimore, and our ambassadors on the JMM Board, especially our “ambassador-in-chief”, Board President Duke Zimmerman.  Thanks to this dynamite combo we have already taken more than 300 invitations to opening weekend events and we have already substantially raised our institution’s visibility.  I have asked Rachel to share some highlights of what’s already happened and what’s in store.

~Marvin Pinkert

How do you get noticed? As Marvin mentioned above: hard work, great partners, and yes: luck. As the marketing manager here at the Museum those three tenets are a bit of a mantra for me. It’s been very exciting behind the scenes for the last few months as we’ve tried to figure out the best way to capitalize on the broad appeal and “cool factor” that is Paul Simon: Words and Music. Happily, I think we’re already showing some real signs of success with organic coverage:

A cover story in the Baltimore Jewish Times – plus we especially enjoyed last week’s “MishMash” question on favorite Paul Simon songs!

A travel story in the New York Times online (Special thanks go out to Visit Baltimore for this one!)

A sneak peek tour with WBAL

Even an Associated Press story that has indeed been picked up as far away as Idaho and Florida (and in plenty of places around town – including the Washington Post)!

Marvin has also been interviewed on WJFF and will be appearing live on air with Tom Hall this Monday at 9:15am (so be sure to tune your radio to WYPR 88.1).

In addition to organic coverage we’ve lined up quite a bit of traditional advertising and promotion to further our reach including:

Television campaigns with WMAR/ABC2, Maryland Public Television, and Fox 45

Radio campaigns with WTMD, 100.7 The Bay, and WAMU

Print campaigns with Baltimore City Paper and the Baltimore Sun, the Jewish Times, Overture Magazine, Baltimore Magazine, and the Ravens Yearbook

And our partners at Visit Baltimore donated additional print coverage in AARP magazine and regional travel magazines in Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and the Shenandoah Valley, as well as featuring the exhibit in recent editions of their e-newsletter “Baltimore Buzz,” and on their blog with a special entry from Marvin.

My personal favorite part of marketing has to be the social media piece – that is, the materials we create and post on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr. The fast pace and often irreverent attitude embraced by the user groups that populate these platforms make them the perfect environment for playful, often experimental work promoting our programs and exhibits.

For Paul Simon: Words and Music, one particularly cool thing we created is a series of “lip synch videos” to various Paul Simon songs. These short clips star JMM staff members and some very energetic summer interns. You can view the videos we’ve posted already here and there will be more to come! You can also follow along with all our Paul Simon related-tweetings by following the hashtag #PaulSimonBaltimore – you can even use this tag to share your own photos and thoughts with us and we’ll re-tweet our favorites!

As Marvin mentioned above, we’ve also been delighted with the coverage from the Jonestown Brand Unveiling, held on October 1st here at the Museum. Reporters from the Baltimore Jewish Times, Baltimore Sun, the Daily Record, and the Baltimore Business Journal attended the event which featured the Mayor, Jonestown State Delegates Luke Clippinger and Brooke Lierman, and the President of Historic Jonestown Inc, Lindsay Thompson.  You can read their articles at the links below!

Jewish Times:

Baltimore Sun:

Daily Record:

Baltimore Business Journal:

So now that you’ve noticed us – why not share with your friends and family?  Forward our e-newsletters, send links to our blog posts, or just check-in on your phone when you come to visit! Every little bit helps when it comes to catching the public’s eye.

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