Postcards for Paige

Posted on January 19th, 2018 by

Last fall Paige Woodhouse joined our team as Visitor Services Manager.  Following in the tradition of “Dear Abby” (Abby Krolik) and “Greetings Graham” (Graham Humphrey), this month Paige introduces the quarterly feature, “Postcards for Paige”, giving us a chance to answer commonly asked questions about how to make the most out of your visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland. (All the answers are real, the postcards are dubious… but these days, who knows?)


 

Postcard Reads:

Dear Paige,

Planning is my passion. I love to come to the Museum’s public programs so I plan my visit ahead of time. I buy my tickets online to print and bring with me. I always leave my house early to get a good seat for the lecture. However, with the wintery weather that we are having, another “bomb cyclone” could throw a wrench in my plan! What if I come to the museum for the planned program and it’s closed? How do I find out if the Museum is closed, opening late, or closing early because of the weather?

From,

Phrenetic about Precipitation

 

Hi Phren,

Your organizational skills are outstanding! Alas, the weather sometimes interrupts our best-made plans. First, your safety is very important and we ask that you don’t take any risks in unsafe conditions to come to a program. With that said, sometimes we do have to close the Museum, open a little late, or close a wee bit early. During the week, for the first day of inclement weather we follow whatever the Baltimore City Schools are doing. After the first day, or on Sundays, we make the decision ourselves. You can find those updates on our website’s front page: www.jewishmuseummd.org and on our social media.

Keep warm out there,

~ Paige

 


 

Postcard Reads:

Dear Paige,

This winter cold is getting to me. I need something to liven things up! I need some music to get me moving, or a few films to get my family out of the house. Maybe even some performances to get my blood pumping. Can you help me?

Sincerely,

Looking to Liven Things Up

 

Hey Looking,

Seems as if cabin fever might be getting to you. Lucky for you, we have just the program to spice up your winter! Escape from your house this February and March and experience JMM Live. From music to film to dramatic living history performances, the Museum will be celebrating the impact Jewish Americans have had on the performing arts. Check out the great line-up of events here. I bet you will be able to find something to liven up your long winter!

~ Paige


 

Postcard Reads:

Hi Paige:

I wanted to let you know how much my group enjoyed the exhibit Discovery & Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage. Everyone thought our docent was wonderful. She gave them a lot of the history to the exhibit and left them really excited to have been here. Thank you for making this a great day. We want to come back soon! What exhibits will be on next? Who do we contact? How much does it cost?

From,

Happy Campers

 

Dear Happy,

I am tickled pink to hear that your group had such a positive experience at the Museum! All the credit must go to our wonderful volunteer docents.

I would love to help you arrange for your group to come back. The Museum has an exciting schedule of exhibits coming this spring. From March 8th to 25th, the My Family Story Exhibition will be on display. This exhibit shows student’s projects that illustrate their personal exploration into their family history and connections to the Jewish Community. From April 8th to May 28th, the Museum will be the host of Amending America: The Bill of Rights, a travelling exhibit from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Can’t wait that long? We’ve added another exhibit to our schedule! A panel show from Yad Vashem in Israel, Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, will be on display beginning February 4th. Don’t forget that you can also go on a tour of our two historic synagogues during your visit.

To schedule your group, please send me an email at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org or call me at 410-873-5167, with the name of your group, contact information, number of people attending, and any special requirements. I will send you an intake form to complete, followed by a confirmation form with your scheduled itinerary and fee due on the date of your visit. How much does it cost to bring a group? For groups of 10 or more that reserve in advance, the cost is $5 per person.

I can’t wait to hear from you!

~ Paige


 

Postcard Reads:

Yo Paige,

I read in last week’s Sun that nearly all museums in this area are losing attendance.  How bad are things at JMM?

Where will I practice climbing stairs if all the museums go away?

~Sylvester S.

 

Mr. S.,

To quote Mark Twain, she said SLYly, “the rumors of our death are greatly exaggerated”.  2017 was a great year for JMM.  I just finished calculating the numbers and in 2017 our on-site attendance was up 26% overall from 2016 and our program attendance was up a whopping 48% year-over-year.  Every one of our exhibits, Remembering Auschwitz, Just Married! and Discovery and Recovery out-performed the same time frame in the prior year.  And JMM was not alone, several other small museums, not interviewed for the article, like our neighbors at the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House also had good years.

So my advice is don’t stay in the sun too long, exercise your mind as well as your feet by coming in off the steps and experiencing what’s keeping millions of Americans coming to museums.

~ Paige

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Farewell JMM!

Posted on December 20th, 2017 by

The final blog post from Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

Today marks my last day at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. After working here for 17 years, and enjoying just about each and every day, I have decided to move on to embark on a new adventure. As difficult as this decision has been, one of the most challenging aspects of leaving has been cleaning out my office, a true Herculanean task if there ever was! And as I have been emptying out file folders and deleting old emails, I have enjoyed reminiscing and being reminded of how much the JMM has grown and evolved over the years.

Tchotchkes! Treasures of the Family Museum, March 2000 – April 2001.

When I first started as the Museum’s Director of Education on December 11, 2000, the JMM had only recently transformed itself from the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland. Exhibits on display at the time included Cornerstones of Community: Historic Synagogues of Maryland and Tchotchkes! Treasures of the Family Museum. Since then, the JMM has installed 24 exhibits in the Feldman and Cardin galleries (before the 2007 opening of Voices of Lombard Street, we regularly changed out both galleries.) To view a full listing of past exhibits going back to 1987, check out http://jewishmuseummd.org/exhibits/past-exhibitions/.

(Left) Enterprising Emporiums: The Jewish Department Stores of Downtown Baltimore, October 2001 – January 2003. (Right) Cabin Fever! Jewish Camping and Jewish Commitment, March 2006 – July 2007.

Some of my favorites exhibits include: Enterprising Emporiums: Baltimore’s Downtown Jewish Department Stores, Cabin Fever: Jewish Camping and Jewish Commitment (the first exhibit I ever curated), Lives Lost, Lives Found: Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1945, Loring Cornish: In Each Others Shoes and The A-mazing Mendes Cohen (installing the exhibit maze was truly a team effort and turned out to be a ton of fun too!)

(Left) Lives Lost, Lives Found: Baltimore’s German Jewish Refugees, 1933-1945, March 2004 – December 2005. (Right) Loring Cornish: In Each Other’s Shoes, February – September 2011.

It was all hands on deck for the installation of The Amazing Mendes Cohen, Sept 2014 – June 2015.

Back in 2000, the Lloyd Street Synagogue looked quite different from how it does today. Visitors were greeted by a building whose exterior was marked by exposed brick and imposing columns that were painted white. After conducting analysis of paint samples and researching archival documentation, we were able to determine that the brick was hidden under paint for much of its history. In 2010, in conjunction with the Museum’s 50th anniversary, we repainted the Lloyd Street Synagogue’s exterior to look as we believe it did in 1860. It’s hard to imagine today, as we have grown accustomed to its lovely pink hue, but when we first unveiled the restoration, many visitors were shocked!

The changing face of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

The lower level of the Synagogue has also gone through extensive changes. Gone are the Beit Midrash with its wooden bookshelves and tables and the Golden Land children’s exhibit. In its place The Synagogue Speaks! an exhibit that explores how the building was adapted by each of the different congregations that worshipped within its walls.

While some things have changed, it’s heartening to know that certain traditions continue. Shortly after I started, the JMM held our very first Christmas Day program. With more than 600 visitors that year for a program that celebrated “Chanukah in Prague” with musical performance, puppet shows and art activities, the event affirmed the fact that members of our community were interested in attending Jewish-themed activities on a day traditionally devoted to Chinese food and movies. (For the past several years, we have been pleased to be part of our community’s Mitzvah Day and to give visitors the opportunity to participate in meaningful community service opportunities). To learn more about this year’s program visit http://jewishmuseummd.org/single/mitzvah-day-at-the-jmm/.

At last year’s Mitzvah Day program, participants assembled soup kit packages that were donated to food kitchens.

So what will I miss most about the JMM? The people! I feel so lucky to have had the chance to work with such an amazing group of co-workers, board members, volunteers, Jewish communal professionals and colleagues from other museums and cultural organizations. And I will miss all the wonderful interactions I’ve had with visitors, members, researchers, school children and teachers.

Starting in January, I will be working at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, just a short drive around the harbor. I’m looking forward to making new memories at a new museum and I hope you will come visit me there!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Finding Houdini in Scranton

Posted on October 26th, 2017 by

We continue our new blog series, Finding Houdini, from magician and storyteller David London, who will be serving as a guest curator for our upcoming exhibition exploring the life and legacy of Harry Houdini. In this post, David brings us along to his visit to the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA. To read all the posts in this series, click HERE.


The  Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA

The Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA

The first stop on my “Finding Houdini” tour brought me to the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA. Throughout his career, Houdini appeared in Scranton numerous times, and performed throughout Pennsylvania. The museum is run by Dorothy Dietrich (The Female Houdini) and Dick Brooks (Bravo The Great). Dorothy and Dick have a long history in the world of magic, working with many of the greats in the world of illusion, previously managing “The Magic Towne House” in New York City. Additionally, Dorothy and Dick restored the bust on Houdini’s grave gravesite, which had been damaged or destroyed numerous times throughout its history. They were also critical in facilitating the re-release of a long-lost Houdini film, The Grim Game, and are currently producing a Houdiniopoly boardgame! These are life-long caretakers of Houdini’s legacy, and it was an honor to arrive at their museum.

I was welcomed to the museum with open arms and open hearts, The amazing tour of the museum, which is offered daily in the summer, and on weekends the rest of the year, is filled with many exciting artifacts and masterfully told stories of Houdini’s life and career. The tour ends with a live show with the entire experience lasting over three hours!

Some great Houdini ephemera. Check out that peek at "Houdini-opoly"!

Some great Houdini ephemera. Check out that peek at “Houdiniopoly”!

Housed in the museum are several pairs Houdini handcuffs, signed books, a reproduction of the Water Torture Cell, and countless photos, posters, and ephemera. Some of the most exciting items at the Houdini Museum in Scranton are objects from Houdini’s apartment at 278 W. 113th Street, which Houdini fans and historians refer to it as simply “278,” including Houdini’s telephone, phonograph, and beautiful gold framed portraits of his parents.

Me with the wonderful museum runners Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brooks!

Me with the wonderful museum runners Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brooks!

But truthfully, the best part of my visit was spending time with Dorothy and Dick. After the tour, we went to dinner and shared our passion for Houdini and the strange and wonderful world of magic. We reflected on the unbelievable but real-life story of Houdini and by the time I departed, I had not only seen the first incredible collection on my tour, but also made new friends. And that’s the real magic of magic!

“My brain in the key that sets me free” -Houdini

“My brain in the key that sets me free”
-Houdini

In my upcoming posts, I will be sharing my adventures in Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Washington, DC, as I continue my search for Houdini. Stay tuned…

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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