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)
Posted on March 6th, 2015 by Rachel
We have left February behind us and the forecast is “great programs” at JMM for the month ahead. So make the exodus from winter and join us at one of this month’s activities. We’ll be putting our own twist on the preparations for welcoming spring this Passover: Matzah making for all ages on March 19 and a report from the tombs of Egypt on March 29.
And of course, all month long you can join Mendes Cohen for his journey (into) and out of Egypt in the A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit. Examine the treasures that Mendes brought back to Johns Hopkins as well as the flag and jacket he took down the Nile. Looking ahead – if you have kids, and I don’t “had gadya”-type kids, be sure to mark your calendar for April 12 – in honor of Mendes’ journey we are hosting our first (and only) Egypt Family Day. Have fun with an archeological dig and ancient Egyptian-inspired crafts. This event is strictly BYOM*.
*bring your own mummy (and daddy)
Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Carolyn Bevans*: (410) 732-6400 x215 / email@example.com. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org. *Carolyn is filling in for new mom Trillion Attwood from January through March.
Daytime Matzah Madness!
Thursday, March 19th
11:00am – 12:00pm Hands-On Holiday: Matzah Making for Pre-schoolers
1:30pm – 2:30pm A Golden Holiday: Matzah Making for Seniors
Program included with Museum Admission
Late Night on Lloyd Street: Matzah Madness & Wine Tasting
Thursday, March 19th @ 6:00pm
During the Passover Seder, we don’t just hear the story of Exodus; we see, smell, feel and taste liberation. Prepare for this multi-sensory experience with a night of wine tasting and matzah making! Matzah and wine are both central Passover symbols. Join us as we learn about the significance of matzah with Rabbi Levi Druk of Chabad Downtown and sample a variety of mevushal wines from Canton Crossing Wine & Spirits. Finally, have the chance to make your own matzah to share with friends and family for the holiday!
What the Ancient Egyptians Took with Them—and Why
Speaker Dr. Betsy Bryan, Johns Hopkins University
Sunday, March 29, 1:00 p.m.
Program Free with Museum Admission
Mendes Cohen spent several months travelling in Egypt building a wonderful collection of antiquities that would later go on to form the basis of the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum. We are very excited to be welcoming museum director Prof. Betsey Bryan to talk about the collection Mendes developed and the Egypt Mendes would have encountered during his travels.
Family Activity Day: Egypt
Sunday, April 12
12:00pm – 4:00pm
$5 Admission for Families
Join us for a fun filled day of hands-on activities for all things Egypt! Learn about archaeological digs (and try your hand at a little digging of your own) and Ancient Egypt-inspired crafts!
Baltimore Jewish Council
The Baltimore Jewish Council is sponsoring a high school student essay contest as part of its 2015 Yom HaShoah Commemoration for Holocaust Remembrance. As part of this year’s theme, Remember the Children, students will be asked to answer the following questions:
- Why should the lessons of the Holocaust be passed on to a new generation?
- What can young people do to combat and prevent prejudice, discrimination and violence in our world today?
Applications are available on the Baltimore Jewish Council website. Entries must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 20, 2015. Israel Bonds will be awarded to first, second and third place winners: 1st Place $300, 2nd Place $200, 3rd Place $100.
Gordon Center for Performing Arts
Stoop Storytellers: Looking for storytellers!
Baltimore’s own Stoop Storytelling Series is coming to the Gordon Center for Performing Arts on Thursday, June 11, 2015 for a show entitled “Family Circus: Stories about twisted sisters, funny uncles, and mommies dearest.”
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’ve got a true, personal story that matches the theme! For tickets http://www.jcc.org/gordon-center/gordon-live/
Baltimore Jewish Film Festival:
Don’t miss the 27th Annual Baltimore Jewish Film Festival March 22-April 28, 2015 at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts Featuring 11 internationally acclaimed films, all Baltimore Premieres!
Sunday, April 26 at 3:00 pm
A special co-presentation with the Jewish Museum of Maryland and The Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch Memorial Program on Immigration. Buy your tickets today!
B’nai Israel Congregation
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 March Meeting
Why the New York Times Is Wrong:
Using Basic Genealogical Tools to Show That Your Family Name Was Not Changed at Ellis Island
Speaker: Ken Bravo
Sunday, March 22, 1:30 pm, Pikesville Library’s meeting room
The program is free for paid members and $5 for non-members (applied to membership fee when a visitor joins JGSMD) after their first meeting. Refreshments will be available. Please check the web site at www.jgsmd.org for late updates and for the time, location, and program of future meetings.
Exhibits currently on display include The A-mazing Mendes Cohen (on display through June 14, 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. Our new Lloyd Street “1845: Technology and the Temple” tour is available every Sunday and Monday at 3:00 until The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen closes in June 2015.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
JMM Museum Shop
Passover begins at sundown April 3, 2015! Gather around your Seder table with family and friends..share your stories and enjoy the foods of Passover! Our JMM Museum Shop has hand-picked Seder plates to grace your table including this 13” decorative glass plate, on which rests six floral dishes and an available Kiddush cup, all by Quest in their Freesia Passover Collection.
For children (and adults too!) we have assorted frogs, finger puppets and bouncing matzoh balls!
Are you ready for Passover?
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, call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 email@example.com
Posted on February 13th, 2015 by Rachel
This month’s Performance Counts comes from Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik!
Today is Maryland’s “Tourism Day”—an event organized by the tourism industry to make the case to our state legislators that recreational and cultural attractions have an important impact on the economy and quality of life in Maryland. In keeping with the spirit of the day, we decided to take a look at who comes to the JMM and where they come from.
This is a more complicated question than you might think; there are countless ways to categorize our guests. We usually divide our on-site visitors into four main categories: general visitors, school groups (including summer camps), public program participants, and adult groups (e.g. mah jongg clubs or sisterhood visits that book in advance). School groups are traditionally the largest segment of our visitors, but in the last two years general visitors have been catching up and program visitors are not far behind.
John Ruarah Middle School students explore The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit.
School groups come to us in a handful of main categories—public/private/parochial/homeschool; Jewish/non-Jewish; and Day School/Hebrew School. Within these groups, our single largest draw is from Baltimore City public schools, but this year we’ve had increasing success in attracting the local Jewish schools (both Day Schools and Hebrew Schools). We’ve also expanded our educational outreach in Baltimore County, and we are making efforts to recruit more parochial schools. We have even received a grant from the Delaplaine Foundation to extend programming, outreach and onsite visits to Frederick County schools. Our programs are aligned with the Common Core standards, which helps to attract the interest of teachers and principals. While we work with students at all grade levels—from Pre-K to even college level—the average group that visits us is in middle school, particularly 7th grade (when all the city schools teach “The Diary of Anne Frank”).
City Springs Elementary School students in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
General visitors can be subdivided in several ways as well. The most obvious is, of course, geography. We don’t have data on 100% of our visitors’ points of origins (not everyone chooses to leave us a zip code), but we have enough data to give us a pretty good sample. It is true that a lot of our visitors come from Northwest Baltimore and the immediate suburbs, but there is also a significant segment from downtown Baltimore as well as Columbia, Md. We can tell when we’ve received coverage in the Washington Post Weekend section because we can see the boost in visits from Montgomery County, DC and Northern Virginia.
Many of our visitors come from a much farther distance. I love telling people that we get visitors from pretty much everywhere in the world! Just over the last year we’ve hosted guests from such far-flung and exotic states as Alaska and Oklahoma, as well as visitors from at least one country per continent (not counting Antarctica), including—but certainly not limited to—El Salvador, Argentina, Italy, Rwanda, Japan, and Kyrgyzstan!
For our public program attendance numbers, we are careful to not double count program participants as general visitors. For example, our raw number for general attendance last December was 517, but to get the right number for “on-site attendance,” we subtracted the number of participants in our programs that took place during our normal open hours, which left us with 222 as the general attendance. Our #1 best attended program in 2014 was the Joanie Leeds Chanukah concert—we counted more than 175 guests (though a few of them were in strollers)! Program attendance is probably the category with the greatest variability. Not only is it affected by the attraction of the topic or speaker, but also by the weather and the Ravens’ game schedule. There’s just no competing with football in Ravens’ Nation!
Some spirited dancing at our Joanie Leeds Chanukah Concert!
In addition to our on-site data, we also try to track off-site contacts : how many students we reach in the schools, or how many people who come to see Mendes Cohen at an event or who come up to our booth at a festival. Still, our focus is on the JMM as a destination, and that is the data that we are monitoring most closely. It helps us make sure we spend our limited resources wisely, and it tells us something about the success of our initiatives.