Posted on October 30th, 2017 by

A blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

Last Thursday, I got up early, hopped on my chariot, and headed to Pittsburgh for the Annual Conference for the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (aka MAAM).   The mission of MAAM is to support and promote excellence, ethics, and accessibility in museum practices; and to make the museums of the Mid-Atlantic region better able to preserve and interpret our diverse cultural, scientific, and aesthetic heritage. I was invited to Pittsburgh as I was recently nominated to serve as a Member at Large on the Board of MAAM to represent the State of Maryland.

The  teeniest of planes!

The teeniest of planes!

The three day conference was jam packed filled with sessions, museum visits, board meetings and just meeting a lot of very nice like-minded museum professionals. On Thursday, we visited the Rivers of Steel National Heritage where we learned about the Carrie Furnaces No. 6 and 7, which are rare examples of pre-World War II iron-making technology. Built in 1907, the furnaces produced iron for the Homestead Works from 1907 to 1978. Since the collapse of the region’s steel industry in the 1970s and 1980s, these are the only non-operative blast furnaces in the Pittsburgh District to remain standing.

The Carrie Furnaces

The Carrie Furnaces

We visited the Frick Pittsburgh where we were treated to a preview of a very fun exhibition on loan from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Undressed -The History of Underwear in Fashion. The exhibition illustrates how undergarments reflect society’s changing ideas about the body, morality, and sex, and the intimate relationship between underwear and fashion. Thursday evening we were treated to a reception at the Phipps Conservatory and saw the beautiful glass sculpture and art of Jason Gamrath.

Day Two of the conference was spent in sessions – I was attracted to attending sessions on education and was also treated to the keynote address from Ruth Abram, co-founder of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and who has also worked on other projects like the Sites of Conscience and Behold, New Lebanon!  On Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit the Heinz History Center and saw the set of Mister Rogers Neighborhood and also celebrated the 100th birthday of Charlie the Tuna!

Happy Birthday Charlie!

Happy Birthday Charlie!

One of things that impressed me most about the MAAM organization is its desire to foster and mentor emerging professionals in the museum field. One of the best moments that I had of the weekend was seeing former JMM intern, Emma Glaser.  Emma interned with the JMM over the summer of 2014 and was instrumental in helping us plan education activities in connection with the Mendes Cohen exhibition. Following Emma’s internship, she contacted me about providing her a letter of recommendation, she wanted to apply to graduate school for museum studies. I was absolutely thrilled to see Emma at the conference and see how learn how happy she is studying in  the Graduate Program for Museum Studies in Cooperstown, New York in her chosen field of study!


Hi Emma!

Hi Emma!



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Creating An Activity For Children

Posted on July 21st, 2014 by

One of my favorite things that I’ve done during my internship here has been creating and leading activities for elementary and middle school students. Most of the activities I’ve worked on are connected to The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen  exhibit opening in September, but I’ve worked on two that kids have had a chance to try out.

For the first activity I was tasked to create, my co-intern Arielle and I were given a bunch of cards with Jewish and Christian symbols on them that are usually kept in The Synagogue Speaks exhibit. Since there were multiple cards with each symbol, we decided the best way to teach kids about the symbols on the cards would be to create a matching game.

Museum Education Interns Emma Glaser and Arielle Kaden discussing which cards should be used in the matching game.

Museum Education Interns Emma Glaser and Arielle Kaden discussing which cards should be used in the matching game.

Eight pairs of cards are placed randomly in a 4×4 grid and the kids playing the game have to take turns turning over cards until they’ve found all of the matches. It’s especially fun toward the end of the game when they know where some of the cards are and give advice to their friends on which card to pick. Once they’ve found all of the matches, the staff member with them asks the kids which symbols they think are Jewish and which are Christian and discusses what the symbols are. Some of the symbols used in the game are Shabbat candles, a nativity scene, and a yarmulke. The game works best for groups of five to fifteen kids per grid, so it’s a great opportunity to for kids to have a group discussion and ask questions.

Kids from Hampstead Hill Camp playing the matching game.

Kids from Hampstead Hill Camp playing the matching game.

photo 3

Hard at work!

The other activity I created is based on The Electrified Pickle exhibit. It’s a scavenger hunt that’s aimed at getting the kids interested in the artifacts in the exhibit. The scavenger hunt highlights one interesting artifact from each section of the exhibit. When I was creating it, I picked artifacts that I thought would draw kids’ eyes, either because they were striking, like the samovar used in the exhibit, or because they were something the kids would have used themselves, such as a scooter.

Considering which artifacts to include in the scavenger hunt.

Considering which artifacts to include in the scavenger hunt.

Kids have to find each artifact pictured in the scavenger hunt and figure out what it is. Older children also have to find the answer to a question about each artifact, such as what its function was or when it was used. At the end of the activity, a staff member asks the kids what the answer to each question is.

A girl from Hampstead Hill Camp points out an artifact to her friends.

A girl from Hampstead Hill Camp points out an artifact to her friends.

Three kids from Hampstead Hill Camp check out a scooter they found in the scavenger hunt.

Three kids from Hampstead Hill Camp check out a scooter they found in the scavenger hunt.

I have really enjoyed leading activities for kids here because it is very rewarding to see them enjoying and learning from the exhibits here at the museum, and that is doubly true for the activities that I created.

Emma GlaserA blog post by Education Intern Emma Glaser. To read more posts by interns, click HERE.

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Meet the 2014 Summer Interns!

Posted on July 1st, 2014 by

It’s that time of year again – Intern Season! You’ve already heard from a few of these bright, eager interns, as they’ve taken to blogging like ducks to water. But we still thought it would be nice to give you a little more in-depth information on the 2014 summer intern class. This year we asked the interns to interview and write profiles on each other. Enjoy getting to know them – we certainly have been!


Emma GlaserEmma Glaser is a new Education and Programming Intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. I had the opportunity to sit down with my fellow intern and discuss what brought her to the JMM, what she plans to in Baltimore, and, most importantly, how I could obtain her mother’s challah recipe.  ~Intern Mandy

Emma is originally from Tacoma Park, Maryland, a suburb of Washington D.C. that offers both small town charm alongside big city attractions. Emma jokes, “The best thing is our July 4th parade, which is very small-town America, but with a lot of liberal twist!” Yet, though she grew up just a short car ride from the Smithsonian, she cites the New York Historical Society and the Natural History Museum in New York as her favorite museums as a child. Emma explains that her grandmother would often drag her to those museums all the time growing up, stressing the importance of history on Emma at an early age.

Well, Emma must have been listening to her grandmother, because she majored in History and Classics at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Smith is known to have a unique housing system, where traditional undergraduates are expected to live in a housing community for four years.  Naturally, I ask Emma to sell me on her house, Washburn. Emma gleefully states, “Washburn has a reputation for being a little weird, not in a bad way, and the house community is very strong. We also have the best mascot on Smith’s campus—Safety Man.” Apparently, Safety Man is a relic from an old commuter student whose father did not want her driving alone at night. So, she drove with half a mannequin. Now, the students as Washburn continue to take great pride in Safety Man, hiding him in showers and closets. Needless to say, Emma received an amazing college education both inside and out of the classroom.

In fact, it was during her undergraduate career that she realized her passion for museum work. Growing up, museums surrounded her. Trips to the Smithsonian or to the historical society grew old fast to a young and curious mind. Though she loved history, she viewed museums as rather passive institutions. Her feelings completely changed when she studied abroad at King’s College in London. Suddenly, Emma was surrounded by new objects and narratives, just begging to be explored. Emma declares, “I probably saw about 96% of the British Museum while I was there—I had make about six trips, and spend a couple hours each time!” Her feat was so impressive, that one of her classmates claimed she never met someone so into museums before. That’s when Emma realized she might want to look into museum careers and see where she fits best in the field.

Since her English epiphany, Emma has sought out countless opportunities in Public History and Jewish History. She interned in the curatorial department at the National Museum of American Jewish History, and has also for her synagogue, helping to archive materials related to her congregation’s cemetery. At the JMM, Emma wants to build on those experiences while also exploring different areas in the field. As an Education and Programming Intern, Emma is busy working on lesson plans for the A-mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit and gearing up for the upcoming Electric Pickle exhibit.


Mandy BenterMandy Benter is a new Exhibition Research Intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  ~Intern Arielle

Mandy is the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s fresh, new, and awesome Exhibition Research Intern for this upcoming summer.  Mandy went through most of her life without nicknames, but by some she is called Mandy B (even though there’s no other Mandys in her circle of friends), Mahatma Mandy (because of her relaxed and friendly disposition), and Patches (which was earned while she was in AmeriCorps, where nicknames run wild).  She is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  She describes it as a quintessential blue collar city, known for its breweries and motorcycles; but also experiences a renaissance of sorts and developing quite a reputation for its quirky art venues and festivals – similarities she has noticed between Milwaukee and Baltimore!

Mandy studied history and political science as an undergraduate at the University of Wisoconsin-Madison.  When she was a junior she realized that she wanted to work as a museum curator so she began to look for internships.  Since then she has works with the Institute of Southern Jewish Life and the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience.  Though she is neither Southern nor Jewish, she felt overly welcomed in her new community and learned a lot about the museum field.  She has worked extensively in educational programming, particularly for Mississippi Public School students. After she graduated from UW, Mandy took a year off from her schooling and joined AmeriCorps, working for City Year Little Rock/North Little Rock as a supplemental third grade literacy tutor.  She describes this experience as the hardest and most rewarding of her life.

This past fall, Mandy moved to Raleigh, North Carolina to get her MA in Public History from North Carolina State University.  Since then she has developed a strong allegiance to Eastern Carolina’s vinegar-based barbecue and has a tendency to call a group of people “y’all”.  You can guess that she loves the South!!

Now Mandy has one more year of school before she will earn her MA and is thrilled to be spending her summer as an intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  She will be working with Curator Karen Falk on the upcoming Jews, Health, and Healing exhibit.  She hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the project and is excited to learn more about what it takes to put an exhibit together and the fundamentals behind the research process. She is thrilled to work on this exhibit while it’s still at the early stages and is honored that the JMM is entrusting her with this opportunity.  She can’t wait to spend the summer in Baltimore and embrace her time working at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!


Barbara IsraelBarbara Israel  is a new Exhibition Research Intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  ~Intern Emma

Barbara Israel is a sophomore at UMBC, majoring in Ancient Studies and Archaeology. She grew up in Youngstown, OH, but has lived in Baltimore for forty years. After she graduates, Barbara would like to work in a museum, so she is excited about the experience she will gain during her internship. She will primarily be working on the Jewish Health and Healing exhibit. So far, she has really enjoyed learning how to transcribe documents which are in poor condition. Her favorite document that she has worked on is a manuscript from 1896.

Barbara’s favorite historical figure is Thomas Jefferson because she took a class focusing largely on him. She also had a wonderful time taking an archaeology course in Greece this year. The traditional Jewish food that she most enjoys is brisket. Her hobbies include gardening, cooking, travel, and reading.


Sarah MooreSarah Moore is a new Exhibition Research Intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. ~Intern Barbara

Sarah Moore is an intern who came to the Jewish Museum of Maryland from Morgantown, West Virginia, and she graduated from the University of West Virginia at Morgantown. She came back to the museum after a week’s absence with a bout of illness and took on her tasks here with earnestness.

Her favorite food is burritos and she loves Mexican food.

I asked Sarah what her goals were for the immediate future. She plans to take a year off from school to find a job in a museum. In five years she plans to be finished with graduate school in Museology or Art History and find a museum job. In ten years she would like to have a curatorial position in a museum.

Her favorite book is “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin and her hobbies are reading and swimming.


Arielle KadenIt is my pleasure to introduce you to one of the Jewish Museum of Maryland’s summer 2014 Education and Programming interns: Arielle Kaden. ~Intern Sarah

Arielle is a rising junior at Johns Hopkins University.  She is majoring in Writing Seminars, which she describes as creative writing combined with liberal arts, and minoring in Jewish Studies.  Her favorite place in Baltimore is the Johns Hopkins University Campus.  She’s studied there for two years and it is her home outside of New Jersey.  Arielle grew up in Randolph, New Jersey, with two younger siblings, a brother who is 18 and a sister who is 12.  She considers her best friends.

Arielle recently returned from a two week research trip in Poland.  She her new favorite museum is in Poland, The Museum of the History of Polish Jews. “I saw it before its official opening, which is later this summer, and I thought it was fabulous,” says Arielle. “It covers 1,000 years of Jewish life in Poland and pays a beautiful tribute to the rich Jewish life that once thrived in Eastern Europe and is resurrecting itself today.”

Arielle hopes to find a career in a field pertaining to Jewish education.  She says, “I love finding creative ways to help educate people about Jewish themes whether it is through creative writing, putting together a museum exhibition, or making a film.”  She plans to pursue a master’s degree or PhD, and hopes spread the Jewish message around the world.  Arielle decided to intern at JMM because she thought it would be a unique, fun, and fulfilling experience.  She had visited the museum before and loved its exhibitions. As and Education and Programming intern Arielle looks forward to helping to plan and facilitate educational and programming activities for all of the guests.

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