Accessibility at the JMM

Posted on April 8th, 2016 by

Creating a welcoming museum environment that takes into account visitor needs is an important ongoing goal at the JMM. Whether this means developing exhibition educational resources for school group visitors or offering programs designed to facilitate conversation among visitors of different religious or cultural backgrounds, we take pride in our ability to serve diverse audiences. Providing access for visitors with physical disabilities has always been a Museum priority and in recent months, our staff has taken steps to improve our services in this area.

Recognizing the need to consider the entire spectrum of accessibility issues, this past October, we hired Ingrid Kanics of Kanics Inclusive Design Services to conduct an accessibility audit of the JMM’s public spaces including both of our historic synagogues, galleries, restrooms and library. As part of her survey, she measured door openings, made use of a wheelchair to navigate spaces and considered all aspects of the visitor experience.

Improved signage

Improved signage

Ingrid then drafted a report with recommendations that she shared with Museum staff. We were pleased to note that our Museum facility scored high in many areas. Having recently added a push button option to open our front doors provides easier access for visitors with limited mobility. Many of Ingrid’s recommendations related to signage and our staff has already produced larger signs to help visitors identify public restrooms. At her suggestion, we have created a checklist of items for our visitor services staff to check on a regular basis to ensure, for example, that the mechanical doors are functioning properly and that doors and hallways are kept clear of debris that can pose tripping hazards. Other improvements, based on Ingrid’s recommendations, are slated soon for implementation and include adding covers to drain pipes underneath restroom sinks to avoid burn risks for individuals in wheelchairs and smoothing out the transition strips between the lobby and coat room/restroom area to make for easier navigation for wheelchair users.

Thanks to the contributions of docent, Robyn Hughes, for several years, the JMM has worked to improve our services for visitors who are blind or visually impaired. Robyn helps us create Braille text for flyers, exhibition text and programs (we have both Braille and large print exhibition text for Beyond Chicken Soup available at our front desk) as well as create tours and programs designed specifically for visitors with visual impairments including camp groups from the Maryland School for the Blind who regularly visit.

Large Print Brochure

Large Print Brochure

A priority for this coming year is to improve services for visitors who are deaf or have hearing impairments. While we currently make sure that all exhibit videos are captioned and hire sign language interpreters upon request, we do not currently have the ability to offer accommodations for visitors at public programs who have difficulty hearing speakers or presentations. Our staff recently met with representatives from a company that manufacturers assisted listening devices and learned about how this system can improve sound in our orientation space for program participants. We intend on purchasing a system in the upcoming year that would enable visitors to borrow a receiver from the front desk with an over the ear headphone that would amplify sound in our lobby. The same system could also be used by visitors participating in guided tours of our historic synagogues.

The biggest challenge we face for visitors with physical disabilities is the lack of an easy solution for gaining access to our historic synagogues. Many years ago we created a video tour of the synagogues that is available for visitors to view in our lobby as a programmatic equivalent for those unable to climb the buildings’ stairs. We have also started to video simulcast programs that take place in the Lloyd Street Synagogue for visitors to watch in our orientation space. Of course, we recognize that these steps are not enough, and we are exploring different ways for creating access through ramps and possibly an elevator. B’nai Israel is in the process of adding a chair lift to aid congregants (and Museum visitors) in gaining access to its main sanctuary. And we remain committed to continuing to investigate potential solutions for improving accessibility to the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Museum Matters: We’re Moving!

Posted on April 1st, 2016 by

No, we’re not moving JMM (April Fool’s).  We’re moving the day when e-newsletters go out.  Starting in the middle of this month, our e-mail newsletters will reach mailboxes on Thursday rather than Friday. The early start will make it easier for you to plan to attend one of our great Sunday programs, like this Sunday’s visit with time traveler Dr. John de Sequeyra, visiting JMM from his home in 18th century Williamsburg or next Sunday’s program at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation with writer/performer Stephanie Satie presenting her solo play, Silent Witnesses (this year’s Risch Memorial Program).

Your next Museum Matters newsletter will be delivered on May 5, so I want to use this April edition to draw your attention to a very special event we’re planning for May 1.  Later this month (April 23) Jonestown’s own Carroll Mansion will open its doors as the All American House – a showcase for American manufacture and design.  If you look at the website you’ll see we were among the first to sign on as a partner with the Mansion. We’ve declared our 1845 building to be the “All American Synagogue” and on Sunday May 1 we begin our celebration with activities for the whole family and the launch of our new “Book, Bell and Candle Mystery” experience at the Lloyd Street Synagogue at 3pm.  More details in the upcoming JMM Insights newsletter.

Upcoming programs
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.

April

A Sephardic Jewish Doctor in Colonial America
Sunday, April 3, 1:00pm
Performer: Doug Cohen
Included with Admission

We take a step back in time and welcome Dr. John de Sequeyra, a Sephardic Jew of Portuguese extraction, who was born in London in 1712. Dr. de Sequeyra moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1745 where he resided until his death in 1795. During his lifetime he was known for being the first visiting physician at the earliest institution in America dedicated to treating individuals with mental illnesses. He was also credited (by President Thomas Jefferson!) with introducing the tomato as a culinary staple to Virginia.

Network and Explore “Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America” 
Wednesday, April 6, 7:00pm 
Admission: $10 per person

The Maimonides Society invites all health professional to explore ethical, social, and scientific issues central to modern American Jewish identity through this unique museum exhibit; in partnership with The Jewish Federation of Howard County and The Associated’s Maimonides Society.

For reservations or more information please contact Juliya Sheynman at jsheynman@associated.org


The 10th Annual Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch Memorial Program on Immigration:
Silent Witnesses
Sunday, April 10, 3:30pm
Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, 7401 Park Heights Avenue, 21208
FreeWe are pleased to celebrate the 10th Annual Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch Memorial Program on Immigration. Stephanie Satie will perform her one-woman play Silent Witnesses, based upon interviews and conversations with child survivors of the Holocaust.Following the performance join us for a talk back session with performer Stephanie Satie and Mark Hetfield, President and CEO of HIAS.


American Jews and the Early Birth Control Movement
Sunday, April 17, 1:00pm
Speaker Melissa Klapper, Rowan University
Included with admissionThe American Jewish community showed deep interest in the birth control movement of the first few decades of the twentieth century.  Jewish women were “early adopters” of contraception and notable activists for the cause, and also played significant roles as doctors and nurses.  Despite an internal debate over the religious, ethical, social, and medical ramifications, for the most part, American Jewish culture supported the early birth control movement as a tool for empowering Jewish women and the conversation influenced Jewish family life for generations to follow.

Redlining Series – Opportunity: Inclusive Development and Wealth Creation Inside the Redline
Wednesday, April 20, 5:30pm
Free On April 27th, 2015, Baltimore experienced its worst civil unrest in over forty years. Though images of fire and destruction often punctuated national media coverage, the unrest raised issues of persistent inequality and racial discrimination to the forefront of local and national discourse. A year later, the 21st Century Cities Initiative at Johns Hopkins University seeks to host a series of community conversations to reflect on the historical and contextual origins of this unrest. This is “Redlining,” a place to reflect and act on the geographies of exclusion in Baltimore City.The “Redlining” series aims to expose and interrogate the institutional past and present of segregation in Baltimore City. It will launch a future-focused conversation about systems of inequality reproduced by segregation, and the ways American cities might disrupt these systems. It will provide a platform for an intellectual conversation about timely social issues, and put forth a call for better research about the real and metaphoric exclusion of Redlining. The series will bring together academics, civil servants, community organizations, and local artists and musicians to start a conversation about what exclusions means to Baltimore, and what we as a community can do to address it.

May 

All American Synagogue
Sunday, May 1
Included with admission 

Join us as we mark the start of our All American Synagogue celebrations, in association with the MADE: In America and Carroll Mansion, this years’ All American Home. At 3pm become a JMM history detective, explore the material culture of Maryland’s oldest synagogue including some unanswered questions about its most important ritual objects.

Plus throughout the day enjoy hands-on activities and exploration examining the skills and techniques used in the construction of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Activities will be suitable for the whole family.


Vilna to New York, Jewishkayt and Yiddishness, Abraham of Ur and Avrom Sutzkever Meet in One Baltimorean
Sunday, May 1, 4:00pm
Speaker: Zackary Sholem Berger, author of One Nation Taken Out of Another 
Included with admissionAs the author of two books of poetry which combine English, Yiddish, and Hebrew, written from the point of view of the poet himself; Biblical characters; dead literary titans; and [batting cleanup] The Almighty, Berger presents a one-of-a-kind monologue-cum-performance, a polylingual ventriloquy bringing the past and present together for a dance to the music of language.
On the way, many questions will be asked – and some of them even answered. How does a non-ultra-Orthodox guy from a Conservative Jewish background come to be a Yiddish poet and translator? Is he a complete fluke, or a harbinger of some baffling microtrend? How did Baltimore become an unlikely mini-capital of secular Yiddish culture? And is it true what they say about Old Bay?This program is presented in conjunction with a lobby exhibit, The Sanctity of Others, that will be on display April 17-May 19.


Carvalho’s Journay: A documentary film by Steve Rivo

Sunday, May 15, 1:00pm
Movie Screening and Talk with Director Steve Rivo
Included with AdmissionA real life 19th century American western adventure story, Carvalho’s Journey tells the extraordinary story of Solomon Nunes Carvalho (1815-1897), an observant Sephardic Jew born in Charleston, South Carolina, and his life as a groundbreaking photographer, artist and pioneer in American history.

A Day at the Races, A Night at Frankenstein’s Castle
Sunday, May 22, from 11am
Speaker Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg
Included with Admission A Day at the Races and Young Frankenstein: Two films released 37 years apart but united by remarkably similar senses of humor fueled by a uniquely Jewish perspective on mad doctors and mad love. The central characters of both movies blend predictable feelings of persecution with a healthy irreverence for convention and a disregard for stuffy authority. Join another Jewish Doctor named Arnold T. Blumberg as he fills you in on some of the fun behind-the-scenes anecdotes that make the Marx Bros.’ A Day at the Races and Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein two of his all-time favorites in the annals of Jewish movie medicine.Schedule for the Day:
11:00am – Screening of Day at the Races
1:00pm – Lecture with Dr. Blumberg
2:00pm – Screening of Young Frankenstein


Jonestown Heritage Day 
Sunday, May 29, 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Free Join us as we celebrate Jonestown, Baltimore’s oldest neighborhood and home to numerous businesses and cultural institutions, including the JMM. The community will come together as we celebrate our shared heritage.

2016 Annual Meeting
The Greatest Gap: Health Inequity in Baltimore
Samuel Boltansky Memorial Keynote Speaker Dr. Jay Perman, University of Maryland, Baltimore
Tuesday, June 14, 6:30pm
FreeIn 2010, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued a report with this essential line: “Scientists have found that the conditions in which we live and work have an enormous impact on our health—long before we ever see a doctor.”“The conditions in which we live and work …” In Baltimore, these conditions are often bleak—often deplorable. These are the conditions that perpetuate yawning gaps in health care access and efficacy and in large-scale community health outcomes.

In this talk, Dr. Perman will address the social determinants of health—education, economic stability, personal and public safety, housing and transportation, social supports and cohesion. He’ll discuss how anchor institutions—like the University of Maryland, Baltimore—can help remediate the grave disparities we see in the health of populations.

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 March Meeting
Sunday, April 17, 1:30pm, Hadassah meeting room (3723 Old Court Road, Dumbarton Offices Entrance)
Practical Tips for Genealogical Research in and near Present-Day Poland
Speaker: Mary Ann Evan

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

Esther’s Place: the JMM Store

Are you ready for Pesach? Passover begins on Friday April 22. Esther’s Place has you covered with everything you need to celebrate, including beautiful seder plates, matzah plates and covers, and lots cups: for Kiddush, Elijah, and Miriam. We also have, for the kids, plenty of Passover-themed toys, including “matzoh balls” and even a plush plague (or ten).

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Performance Counts: March 2016

Posted on March 11th, 2016 by

Three years, eight months and twelve days (but who’s counting?)

This week marks the culmination of a major JMM initiative, the opening of Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America. The exhibition was conceived soon after the arrival of our (then) new executive director, Marvin Pinkert, in June 2012. As we brainstormed ideas for a new exhibit, one idea stood out from the others tossed around, an exploration of Jewish connections to medicine. However, it was clear from the beginning that we were not just looking to create a hall of fame-style exhibit honoring the Jewish heroes of medicine but rather to flesh out an answer to the question that gets asked so often “Just what is it about Jews and medicine?”

Sneak a peek

Sneak a peek…

As is so often the case with exhibition planning, defining the exhibition concept (along with the title) took a while. From “My Son the Doctor” to “Foreign Bodies” to “Jews, Health and Healing” and finally “Beyond Chicken Soup” our discussions began focusing on the dual notions of how medicine has influenced Jewish identity and conversely how Jewish culture, tradition and religion has impacted the field of medicine.

As we settled on our overarching concept, work on the exhibit intensified on all fronts. Our team of research assistants, interns, volunteers and scholars researched the topic from a wide variety of sources and perspectives. Time spent conducting oral history interviews with local medical practitioners as well as digging through archives at medical research institutes and libraries – including our own collections – proved valuable. Concurrently, we also conducted focus groups and visitor surveys to determine what topics would be of most interest to museum visitors. As we began working with exhibit designer Steve Feldman and media producer Rick Pedolsky, of Amuze Interactives, the exhibit took on a new life, and we began visualizing what it would look like in the Feldman Gallery.

at our newest exhibit

…at our newest exhibit…

With a companion catalog, website, educational curriculum and public program series, Beyond Chicken Soup has been a highly collaborative project that has involved the entire JMM staff as well as an army of consultants and volunteers.

Here’s a look at Beyond Chicken Soup by the numbers:

*Number of lenders to the exhibit: 70

*Number of objects on display: 225

*Farthest distance of travel for loaned objects: Israel (manuscripts collected by Dr. Harry Friedenwald from the National Library of Israel)

*Largest object on display: the back end of a 1970s ambulance (lights flashing!)

*Number of scholar consultants: 4

*Amount of money raised: $824,000

*Number of donors: 27

*Number of project interns: 10

*Number of focus group conversations: 30

*Number of people on the installation crew: 14

*Feet of walls built in the interior of the gallery: 242

...and don't miss  opening weekend!

…and don’t miss opening weekend!

But the best number we can think of for this exhibit is one!  Just one more day before you can experience what we’ve been working on for the last three years.

Can't wait to see you!

Can’t wait to see you!

 

 

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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