Posted on March 14th, 2014 by Rachel
The gallery has cleared. The artifacts are on their way home. Now we can assess the impact of Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War. How shall we measure the value of these last eighteen weeks?
Cutting a fine figure on the dance floor at our Farewell Cotillion.
One is always tempted to start with attendance. More than 4700 visitors came to the exhibition. This is a pace consistent with the museum’s strongest previous exhibition, despite the fact that nearly half the run of the exhibit took place in January and February (we suspect you will recall that the weather made outings more challenging in those months). The category showing the biggest year-over-year increase was “walk-in” visitors, people coming just to see the exhibit numbered more than 1000 during the period. Right behind, at 967, were visitors coming to our Sunday and evening programs.
Of course, attendance numbers aren’t the whole measure. We received both formal and anecdotal feedback to the exhibit and associated education programs. We had some very positive responses, ranging from one of the exhibit’s creators in New York praising our additions to the project, to reenactors appreciating our offering of an unusual chapter of Civil War history, to a young visitor whose mother told me he couldn’t stop talking about the 1861 tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
Students from John Ruarah explore our photography interactive station.
As a manager, I feel obliged to mention that the exhibit was delivered on time and on budget. We have many people to thank for that but special kudos go to curator Karen Falk and researcher Todd Neeson who burned the midnight oil to prepare a quality product. I also think its remarkable that we reached our fundraising goal in spite of a late start, raising over $108,000 in just six months. Former Board president Barbara Katz and our development team (Clair Segal, Susan Press, Rachel Kassman and Deborah Cardin) deserve a lot of credit here.
A visit with Mr. Lincoln
And I would be remiss if I didn’t single out programs as a special area of achievement. Newcomer Trillion Attwood presented 22 programs between October and February, 15 of these on the Civil War itself. These demonstrated an enormous range of subjects – from photography to woman’s history, and wide variety of formats – living history, family days, author lectures and even dance! The strength of these offerings showed how many dimensions of discourse we could find in one exhibit’s content.
Curator Karen Falk removes wall text in preparation for our next exhibit – Project Mah Jongg!
So on the whole, I would say we won the battle… but the war to take JMM to the next level continues and with many fields of combat ahead (Mah Jongg tables, pickle barrels and puzzle mazes among them) we will continue the fight. With your help, victory will be ours.
Posted on February 10th, 2014 by Rachel
The most exciting part about visiting a museum is getting to view various artifacts within the exhibits, especially if the museum is featuring a new one. I myself had only been on the outside, until this January when I was asked to help break the featured exhibit down here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.
Forest and Jobi prepare packaging.
The museum currently has an exhibit called “Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War”. But as spring rolls around, so will new artifacts, and the process of packing up the show, in someways is as thrilling as seeing it as a visitor.
To start, there had to be photos taken of every artifact. These photos were then color coded based on their lenders. Lenders were a variation of individuals, museums, and historical societies.
The Color Code List
Once each photo was matched to the lender, I then filed the loan form for each artifact with its picture. What sounds like slow work, was actually informing. I was able to read the descriptions and learn a little more about the artifacts and the Jewish involvement in the Civil War as well.
Following this, Jobi and I determined how the artifacts would be returned to their lenders. We organized and labeled boxes, for packaging, to be sure that everything was returned to it’s original owner. There was a lot of measuring and labeling to do, but I was able to check out artifacts that were not put into the exhibit. This was a really cool advantage.
The last step of course, is to take the actual artifacts down, pack them up, and send them back! This of course will not happen until the exhibit is officially over. So before the final step is taken, be sure to stop by the museum and check out “Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War”, which ends February 27th at 5 pm.
A blog post by Collections Intern Forest Fleisher. To read more posts by interns, click HERE. If you are interested in interning at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, you can find open internship opportunities HERE.
Posted on January 27th, 2014 by Rachel
Bookplate designed for Dr. Julius Friedenwald, son of Aaron. The inscription reads “The words of the wise are healing.”
Collection of MedChi.
In 1799, Paris was the place to get a modern medical education, inoculation against smallpox was finally gaining widespread acceptance (having first been discovered nearly fifty years earlier), most drugs were made from herbs, and Marylanders usually tended their sick at home, sometimes with the help of a doctor. Also in 1799, as new ideas about health and medicine were percolating throughout the western world, the Medical and Chirurgical [surgical] Faculty of Maryland was organized in an attempt to regulate and support the medical profession throughout the state. One of a handful of such societies in the United States at the time, its papers of incorporation stated its mission to “prevent the citizens (of Maryland) from risking their lives in the hands of ignorant practitioners or pretenders to the healing art.”
Dr. Abram B. Arnold, c. 1890.
Collection of MedChi; photograph by Meg Fielding.
Now known as MedChi: The Maryland State Medical Society, the 215-year-old association—celebrating its anniversary this week—has notched some significant achievements. MedChi directors founded Maryland’s first medical school (1807), the world’s first college of dental surgery in the country (1839), and a school of pharmacy (1857)—all are now part of the University of Maryland.
Entrance to MedChi’s headquarters, built in 1909.
Image courtesy of MedChi; photograph by Meg Fielding.
While this is very impressive, its trove of state medical history is the source of its interest to the JMM. Collections of medical instruments, portraits of board members and other Maryland physicians, antique medical journals, and the papers of the Society are housed in its early 20th century campus in mid-town Baltimore. JMM Curator Karen Falk and Board Member Dr. Robert Keehn were lucky enough to visit behind the scenes at MedChi last week for a first-hand look at these riches.
Dr. Joshua I. Cohen, c. 1865.
Image courtesy of MedChi.
Three early Jewish physicians in Baltimore were among the directors of MedChi: Joshua I. Cohen, a member of one of Baltimore’s earliest Jewish families, was an ear specialist, audiologist of some renown, and president of MedChi in 1857-58; Abram B. Arnold received his MD from the Washington University Hospital of Baltimore (the hospital where Edgar Allen Poe died, later known as Church Home and Hospital) around 1850, published a Manual of Nervous Disorders in 1855, and served as president of MedChi in 1877-78; and ophthalmologist Aaron Friedenwald, a University of Maryland Medical School graduate (1860), Jewish communal activist, and president of MedChi 1880-90. There is even an “Aaron Friedenwald Room” in the current MedChi building, complete with portrait, dedication plaque, and personal objects from the Friedenwald family.
Dr. Aaron Friedenwald, c. 1900.
Collection of the JMM; photograph by Shelby Silvernell.
Aaron Friedenwald, his sons Edgar, Julius and Harry, and grandson Jonas formed a dynasty of physicians in Baltimore that will play an important role in our upcoming exhibition on “Jews, Health and Healing,” planned to open in fall 2015. Many thanks to Meg Fielding at MedChi for taking us on a tour of the collections, providing images for this post, and for responding enthusiastically to our exhibition project.
Library stacks of the MedChi archives.
Image courtesy of MedChi; photograph by Meg Fielding
A blog post by curator Karen Falk. To read more posts by Karen, click HERE.