Networking with the Nation

Posted on May 19th, 2017 by

Blog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts from Marvin click HERE.

Last week, Collections Manager, Joanna Church and I attended the conference of the American Alliance of Museums in St. Louis.  We were two out of more than 4,000 museum professionals gathered there to discuss changing fiscal and social contexts, the most recent technological developments and yes, some general kibbitzing about people and exhibits creating a buzz.

Projections on the ceiling of Union Station in St Louis.

Projections on the ceiling of Union Station in St Louis.

Wearing my hat as a liaison between the museum world and our JMM members, I thought I might use this newsletter to share a few highlights of the conference and how they might impact our future.

The theme of the event was “Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion”.  The first featured speaker was Haben Girma, an Eritrean refugee who is also the first blind/deaf graduate of Harvard Law School.  Haben would have been an impressive orator in any forum… she had a wicked sense of humor and used it effectively to press the case for greater attention to access needs.  Her very presence spoke volumes as to how small acts of consideration can make big differences in enabling everyone to participate and contribute.

But the inclusion story was not only about accommodating disabilities, there were several sessions that dealt with demographic diversity.  On the opening day of the conference I represented the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) on a panel entitled “Transcending Boundaries: The New ‘Identity Museums'”.  I was joined by moderator, Marsha Semmel (former Deputy Director of IMLS), Lisa Sasaki (Director of the Asian-Pacific American Center) and Antonio Rodriguez (Chair, AAM’s Latino Network).  We talked about the challenges of simultaneously meeting the needs of constituent and cross-over audiences, the ways that on-line and mobile devices are reshaping our delivery of content, and opportunities for collaboration with non-“identity museums.”  The recent CAJM meeting in Boston and JMM’s own work on our new core exhibit helped inform my presentation.

The conference was also our first opportunity to pitch our upcoming exhibit Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling to an assembly of traveling exhibit coordinators from both history and science museums.  Our exhibit – which includes a slice of technology, a shmear of history and a topping of environmental science – received a very positive reception.

A curiosity from the expo floor - this is a cut-out combined with a projection, but it felt like a hologram.

A curiosity from the expo floor – this is a cut-out combined with a projection, but it felt like a hologram.

Our main purpose at the conference though, is not to present, but to learn from others.  Joanna, for example, not only sat in on sessions about the nuts and bolts of collections registration and storage, but also attended programs that took a broader look at collecting strategies, audience engagement, and exhibit design within the framework of the theme of diversity and inclusion. Several speakers tackled issues of collecting and exhibiting traumatic history, recent events, and “risky” topics, issues we all wrestle with.  She quoted one speaker whose advice was “steal and adapt”: that is, when faced with a problem, we can look to our fellow museums for guidance, since it’s likely one of them has already encountered the same problem.  Joanna pointed out that diversity of types of museums in attendance at AAM is one of this conference’s great strengths, and it reminds herthat we don’t have to go it alone.

The math of music from "Math Alive" at the St. Louis Science Center.

The math of music from “Math Alive” at the St. Louis Science Center.

Speaking of museum diversity, it was on full display both in the projects highlighted in the sessions and in the venues for the evening events.  AAM’s award for excellence went to “Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration” at the Eastern State Penitentiary Museum in Philadelphia.  It is a bold concept, dramatically designed – can’t wait to see it.  In St. Louis itself, the stand-out project for me was “#1 in Civil Rights” at the Missouri History Museum – featuring the ACTivist in Action program, a unique fusion of theater and exhibit in one seamless experience.  A close runner-up for innovation was the “Math Alive” traveling exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center (I missed it during its premiere at the Smithsonian in 2012 – it appears to be holding up well for a five year old exhibit).  And perhaps the most impressive venue for the conference was the Missouri Botanic Garden, not just in terms of scale and beauty, but in the cleverness of its design.

From the venues to the sessions to the expo floor, we packed our bags full of new ideas to bring back to JMM.

The Japanese Garden at the  Missouri Botanic Garden

The Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanic Garden

The Mediterranean Garden at the Missouri Botanic Garden

The Mediterranean Garden at the Missouri Botanic Garden

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A Beautiful Day in Our Neighborhood

Posted on May 12th, 2017 by

Have you seen our sign?

Have you seen our sign?

I admit that when I first applied to work for the Jewish Museum of Maryland, I had no idea where “Jonestown” was. I wasn’t alone. Regular fans of JMM may remember the articles we saw in surrounding the unveiling of the Jonestown vision plan. Through the creation of that plan, we and our partners learned that many residents and business-owners in Jonestown didn’t know where Jonestown was. Not anymore.

Today, Jonestown (JMM’s neighborhood, bounded to the north by Orleans Street, the east by Central Ave, the west by Fallsway and the south by Pratt Street) is on the brink of a true renaissance.  This “Performance Counts” newsletter often regales you with numbers and metrics. This month, I am only thinking about one number: seven. It’s a number important in Jewish culture, and it happens to be the number, by my count, of significant improvements and developments—recent or forthcoming—in our changing neighborhood.

Breaking ground

Breaking ground

1. I recently had the privilege to attend the official groundbreaking for the new Ronald McDonald House, which will have an Aisquith address, but will fill the much of the block between Fayette and Baltimore Streets a stone’s throw to our northeast. The groundbreaking was educational and emotional for me, as I learned with some heartache about the hope and care that RMHC provides for children suffering from serious illness and their families.

Check out that snazzy entrance!

Check out that snazzy entrance!

2. Just west of the soon-to-be RMHC on Fayette, you’ll find a huge brick structure, painted with jaunty gray diagonal color blocks. This facility, the newly-opened UA House of Living Classrooms, provides support, smiles, activities and an inviting and safe place before and after school for neighborhood children and youth.

3. Also on Fayette, the National Aquarium is working on renovating a 50,000 sq foot property that will serve as an animal care and rescue facility. We understand from our colleagues at the Aquarium that the new space will allow them to properly quarantine and care for animals, and that they do have plans to make it available to visitors on a limited basis.

Hendler Creamery Corporation

Hendler Creamery Corporation

4. A little closer to the Museum, on Baltimore Street, the long-vacant and historic Hendler Ice Cream factory is soon to be converted into both retail and luxury apartments. The developer’s plans include nearly 300 apartments, two floors of parking, and 20,000 square feet of retail. (We have heard through the grapevine that the developers are hoping to incorporate several café-style restaurants in the retail portion. Needless to say, JMM staff is excited!)

The McKim Center

The McKim Center

5. The McKim Center, the Lloyd Street Synagogue’s older sister, will soon be situated right between the new Hendler Creamery development and the new Ronald McDonald House. Its new neighbors, recognizing the historic, cultural and emotional impact of this community anchor, are each planning to help improve the center’s immediate surrounds, with RMHC creating a new park and playground as a part of its plans and the Hendler project adding a façade clean-up and repair of the 184-year-old building.

The JEA

The JEA

6. Speaking of old buildings with Jewish history, the Helping Up Mission recently acquired the former home of the Jewish Educational Alliance (the precursor of the JCC) at 1216 E. Baltimore Street. (My colleagues blogged about their recent visit there.) Helping Up Mission has big plans for the site, which they plan to use to expand their residential work therapy services so that they can help women as well as men.

Helping Up Mission

Helping Up Mission

7. Helping Up Mission, in addition to being our neighbor, is also our tenant. In the middle of last year, they rented 5 Lloyd Street from the JMM. Per our agreement, they’ve done considerable work on the property as a part of their rent. They have been such good tenants at 5 Lloyd Street, that when they expressed interest in the property we own on Lombard Street, formerly Lenny’s Deli, we were eager to listen. As of this month, and until the end of November, Helping Up is renting the Lenny’s property. They’re doing a lot of work on it this month, getting it ready for their needs—to serve as their cafeteria for the residents of the mission while their own kitchen facilities are completely renovated. We are currently reviewing our options for the use of the site past November.

So what about the Jewish Museum of Maryland amid these seven key changes in Jonestown? Fear not, dear reader, we have plans that will make you proud! We are refining a vision for our future that will create a Center for Discourse and Discovery at JMM – with a special focus on Holocaust/genocide education in the 21st century, reposition the historic Lloyd Street Synagogue as a landmark of religious liberty, and add improved program and exhibit space to our main museum building.

These are exciting times! I hope to see you around the Museum and in the neighborhood soon!

Jonestown: Proudly we hail.

Jonestown: Proudly we hail.

A blog post by Associate Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

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Museum Matters: May 2017

Posted on May 5th, 2017 by

Ilene Dackman-Alon leads Morrell Park EMS students through Remembering Auschwitz.

Ilene Dackman-Alon leads Morrell Park EMS students through Remembering Auschwitz.

When we began planning for our current exhibition, Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity, it was important to our staff that we develop an exhibit that didn’t just display a familiar narrative of Holocaust history but rather presented visitors with new insights about what it means to remember the events of the past today. As we move into the exhibit’s final weeks, it has been gratifying to see how the exhibit has resonated with visitors of all backgrounds (particularly with the hundreds of school children who have visited since March) and also by the many conversations that have been sparked through exhibit tours and related programs about how the lessons of the Holocaust inform our lives today.

If you haven’t had a chance yet to see the exhibit, I encourage you to visit in the next few weeks as the exhibit closes on May 29 (yes, we are open on Memorial Day!) There’s still plenty of time to participate in one of our wonderful programs taking place the next few weeks.  I would especially draw your attention to our Annual Meeting on May 25. In addition to welcoming a new class of board members, we will be hosting best-selling author, Steven Roberts whose timely talk We Are All Immigrants, We Are All Refugees connects the historical experience of Jewish immigration, including the experience of those fleeing Germany, to the plight of refugees today.

While the Remembering Auschwitz exhibit leaves us soon, JMM remains committed to Holocaust education and commemoration endures, ensuring that the stories of our local community of Holocaust survivors are not forgotten.

Programs:

May

Stories of Survival

Stories of Survival: Golda Kalib
Sunday, May 7 at 1:00pm
Buy Tickets Now

Born in Bodzentyn, Poland, Golda Kalib was very young at time of Nazi invasion. While initially hidden with a Christian family, she experienced the horrors of the Holocaust in a labor camp and Auschwitz. Hear her storiy in her own words.

Unexpected

The Unexpected Generation:
Polish Jews Discovering Their Roots, A Personal Story

Sunday, May 7 at 3:00pm
Speaker: Dr. Agi Legutko, Columbia University
Buy Tickets Now

Imagine discovering—as a teenager or young adult—that your parents or grandparents hid their identity for their (and your) safety. How would you feel? What would you do? Ever since the fall of Communism in Poland in 1989, when Jewish matters stopped being a taboo subject, more and more people have discovered their Jewish roots. Click here for more info.

Still from Steven

Tuesday Night Film Series
Steven
Tuesday, May 9th at 6:30pm
Speaker: Film Maker Jim Vogel
Buy Tickets Now

Steven is a video documentary  of the life of Steven Vogel, as narrated by Steven himself.  The video recollections describe life growing up in Budapest, Hungary in a religious Jewish home,  the experience of  seeing Nazi troops enter Budapest, Gestapo coming  to his home to arrest him and his mother and being taken to Auschwitz  in a cattle car where he and his mother  came face to face with Joseph Mengele.  The video describes his liberation and the cunning maneuvers that lead to Steven Vogel being the first Hungarian citizen to receive a US immigration visa  following the war.

Destination Unknown

Tuesday Night Film Series
Destination Unknown
Tuesday, May 16th at 6:30pm
Buy Tickets Now

Lessons of the Holocaust Today
Sunday, May 21st at 1:00pm
Buy Tickets Now

Reflections on Holocaust remembrance and commemoration.

JMM 2017 Annual Meeting

We Are All Immigrants

We Are All Immigrants

We Are All Immigrants, We Are All Refugees
Samuel Boltansky Memorial Keynote Speaker:
Steven Roberts, journalist and author
Thursday, May 25 at 6:30pm
FREE – Reserve Your Seat

Immigrants have provided a continuous source of vitality and ingenuity to this country since its founding. Steve Roberts, author of From Every End of This Earth, a study of 13 modern immigrant families, will tell that story.

JUNE

SAVE THE DATE!

Save the Date!

Save the Date!

Members Only:
Love, Laughter, and L’Chaim
A Celebration of Jewish Marriage in American Theater
Thursday Evening, June 15th
Presented by Center Stage and the JMM

Laughter and tears, sorrow and joy, salt and sugar: all the elements of ordinary life can be found in how American Jews have experienced marriage— from wooing and betrothal through the ceremonial celebration and on to the sometimes-bitter aftermath. Take a whirlwind tour through these highs and lows, in a dynamic hour-long excursion through some theatrical highlights from the past century. A special preview event for Jewish Museum of Maryland members!

Esther’s Place: the Shop at the Jewish Museum of Maryland

Mezuzahs, jewelry, and more!

Mother’s Day is right around the corner – stop in and pick up the perfect gift for all the mothers in your life!

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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