Planning a New Exhibit

Posted on April 20th, 2016 by

Planning for a new JMM core exhibition took a big step forward yesterday with the convening of a planning charrette. (Charrette, the French word for “cart”, refers to an intensive planning session that involves group brainstorming around a set of questions or problems – ).

Participants included members of the JMM board and lay leaders who are members of our Program Committee as well as museum professionals and consultants, drawn from the fields of exhibition design and audience engagement. Over the course of three hours, group members shared memorable museum exhibition experiences and discussed strategies for creating meaningful core exhibit experiences.

The bulk of the time was spent in small group discussions where participants addressed a series of questions relating to “balance” and “tools”. Conversation on such topics as how one exhibit can meet the needs of diverse audiences (Maryland natives vs. tourists / Jewish vs. non-Jewish / students in groups vs. adults vs. families) and how to integrate the voices of visitors into the exhibition’s design dominated the first breakout session. The second session focused on more concrete tools for conveying content such as how to make effective use of archives and objects and how can we incorporate appropriate technology to enhance exhibit content.

Members from each group faithfully recorded observations and comments on flip chart sheets.

Members from each group faithfully recorded observations and comments on flip chart sheets.

that were then posted on the walls of the room for everyone in the entire group to view. Participants were encouraged to use stickers to note the comments that they felt were most important including statements such as “Don’t forget the importance of Wow!” “Make sure that the exhibit is flexible and can be changed to keep people coming back”, “Resist the urge to show everything”, “The best exhibits are experiences and invite exploration and journeys”.

Museum staff came away feeling energized by all the wonderful ideas and insights (and perhaps also slightly daunted by the challenges we still face in creating an innovative core exhibition that captures the full scope of Maryland Jewish history in a dynamic fashion). The exhibition is slated to open in 2019 so obviously, we are still just in the preliminary stages. Stay tuned for more!

deborahA blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Greetings Graham – The “Beyond Chicken Soup” Edition

Posted on March 18th, 2016 by

Today’s JMM Insights features our quarterly highlights of fictional messages to visitor services manager, Graham Humphrey.  Any resemblance to real people is pure coincidence.  Hey, it’s almost Purim.

We do have one real announcement to share however.  We have rescheduled our Annual Meeting.  The new date for the Annual Meeting is Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.  Our featured speaker will be Dr. Jay Perman, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.  We look forward to seeing many of you there.


Greetings Graham,

I visited the Museum last month, but was so disappointed to find out that the Paul Simon exhibit about my buddy had closed. What is the next exhibit you’ll have and how long will it run?

Yours Artfully



Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America opened on March 13 and will remain at the Museum until January 16th, 2017. Inside, you’ll find interactive activities, multimedia effects and more than 400 artifacts, documents and images. You will get to journey through the worlds of health in the mid-20th century, from med school to the doctor’s office, hospital, pharmacy –and even a trip to the gym.  You can also experience hands-on encounters with medicine and ethics, explore stories at the juncture of science and culture and examine the links between traditions and contemporary practices. Please visit our website,, to learn more. You’ll have the option of buying tickets in advance by visiting However, advance tickets are not required and you can still buy them when you arrive at the Museum.

Can't wait to see you!

Can’t wait to see you!

Greetings Graham,

OK, what is this I hear about books from overseas being imported into an exhibit about American medicine!  First it was undocumented foreigners, now its foreign documents. Kindly explain yourself.

Fanny Farmisht

Dear Ms. Farmisht,

It is true that our exhibit on Jews and Medicine in America has rare manuscripts from the National Library of Israel, but there is a perfectly logical explanation.  They are part of a collection originally gathered by Dr. Harry Friedenwald right here in Baltimore.  Dr. Friedenwald was inspired by his father (both eye doctors) to explore the question of the connection between medicine and Jewish experience.  His documents included Latin translations of Maimonedes and a medical diploma from an Italian renaissance university.  Dr. Friedenwald gave his collection of hundreds of documents to the National Library of Israel in 1947.  The NLI has sent JMM a few of these originals which we will display in a recreation of Dr. Friedenwald’s study

Some of the fabulous books the National Library of Israel has lent us.

Some of the fabulous books the National Library of Israel has lent us.

Greetings Graham,

I bought a Graceland CD and Paul Simon mug during the Paul Simon exhibit. What merchandise will you have in stock for the Medicine exhibit?

JMM Shopaholic


JMM Shopaholic,

We had a great time shopping for this exhibit and we believe you will have a blast too browsing through our shop! We will sell medically themed trays, water bottles, coasters, storage tins, plates and greeting cards. We also have scientific flask style dishware, chemistry lab notebooks, posters and the newly published Beyond Chicken Soup exhibition catalogue. You can still purchase Paul Simon merchandise at a great discount such as journals, magnets, vinyl design clocks, folk music themed CDs. We even a few mugs left if you wished to purchase another for a friend! You may also notice one other addition to the shop as it has been renamed “Esther’s Place,” after our long time shop manager, Esther Weiner, who retired last year.

All this and more could be yours! Remember, JMM members get a 10% discount in the shop.

All this and more could be yours! Remember, JMM members get a 10% discount in the shop.

Greetings Graham,

I see all this information your Beyond Chicken Soup exhibit. I have an award winning matzah ball soup recipe. Would you like my recipe?

Mrs.  Manischewitz


Mrs. Manischewitz,

Thank you for offering your matzah ball soup recipe, however the exhibit is more about the intersection of Jewish culture and medicine than about actual chicken soup. Yet, we will have a cook off in the fall…stay tuned for details. In the meantime, here are a few other programs coming up. This weekend, we’ll have a lecture by Dr. Edward Halperin on the Rise and Fall of the American Jewish Hospital. On April 6th, health professionals have the opportunity to network and learn more about the exhibit and then on April 17th, there will be a talk about the American Jews and the early Birth Control Movement.

Keep an eye on the calendar because this is another fun program coming up!

Keep an eye on the calendar because this is another fun program coming up!


Greetings Graham,

We are traveling a lot but we expect to be in Maryland in April.  Our schedule is very busy these days –so we really would like to know more about your exhibit before we make a commitment to come and visit.  Where can we find out more?

Hillary and Bernie


Dear Hillary and Bernie,

While nothing beats seeing the exhibit with your own eyes, we do have some really great background information at our special website:  Try clicking on the “Explore” tab to learn more about each section of the exhibit (it’s also a great way to extend your experience after the visit).  When the exhibit travels, we’ll be posting its upcoming schedule here too.   Who knows, it might go to Washington, DC and maybe that will be a more convenient site for one of you.

The Homepage

The Homepage




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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