Posted on August 20th, 2014 by Rachel
There once was a pickle I knowed,
Through which electricity flowed.
Though the smell was horrendous,
The applause was tremendous,
‘Cause that little pickle’s tuches glowed!
The Pickle’s stay was short but sweet. Our exhibition team has worked quickly to take down the exhibit.
An interesting but probably little known fact about The Electrified Pickle is that the #1 Favorite Item in the exhibit amongst schoolage children who visited was not the nightmare-inducing permanent wave machine, but the humble ice tongs! #ThanksFrozen.
(If I had a quarter for every time a child started singing or humming “Let It Go” while in the exhibit, I’d have a dollar or two.)
A poetic blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik. To read more posts from Abby click HERE.
Posted on August 15th, 2014 by Rachel
This summer’s unique visitor experience, The Electrified Pickle, has now come to a close. This week’s newsletter looks back at the highlights of this five week experience.
The Electrified Pickle was a community tech fair, designed to appeal to budding scientists, DIY-ers and anyone curious to learn about how things work. It combined artifacts, experiments, hands-on activities (including a community mosaic) and several outstanding speakers.
The exhibit included items rarely seen from the JMM’s rich collection were selected and brought upstairs and placed in the Feldman Gallery. These examples of technology from the past such as old sewing machines, kitchen implements, and typewriters, were once vital to Jewish trades and home life. With the help from our partner, The National Electronics Museum in Linthicum, MD, the gallery was transformed into a participatory lab-style environment where visitors could discover the mystery behind scientific principles such as magnetism, electricity, solar power, and other fun and engaging interactive activities. These items were displayed in a way that our visitors could make comparisons with newer technologies and gain insight into the process involved in scientific innovation. In addition, our visitors watched a short film, Gefilte Fish, and found humor in watching three generations of women talk about their expertise in making gefilte fish!
In addition to the exhibit, we developed weekly programs to help build upon some of the ideas seen within the exhibit. For five Sundays we invited community members to come to the Museum and share their expertise and passion in specific areas of technology such as engineering, crafts, robotics, electronics, and science with our visitors. Here is a quick wrap-up of the five weeks.
Our Kick-off Sunday, July 13th was Power This! Our visitors were greeted to the JMM by the smell of pickle brine and vinegar- and they got to see first-hand how pickles serve as conductors and can actually be electrified. Other experiments that took place throughout the day were testing the properties of conductive and insulating play-doh and watching LED lights illuminate while making pencil dimmer switches. We ended the afternoon with an electrifying science performance by Extreme Jean-as she demonstrated the properties of dry ice through a variety of experiments.
July 20th- Print This! informed our visitors about the history of printing. Many thanks to Direct Dimensions, Inc. and Maryland Rubber Stamp Company who helped us with their expertise in stamp/block printing to 3D scanning and imaging. Who knew that our Hebrew block letters stamps that were used to make Yiddish posters in the early 20th century could be scanned by a 3D scanner and printed out as 3D images and made into modern stamps? One of the highlights of the day was watching our younger visitors using a “heavy hand” trying to press the keys on an old portable typewriter! We would also like to thank Baltimore Jewish Times, a media sponsor and a special thank you to JT editor-in-chief Josh Runyan who came to the Museum for an “Ask the Editor” session.
July 27th Fly This! –examined the properties of wind and the history of flight. Matt Barinholtz and FutureMakers came to the JMM and helped our visitors understand the properties of wind and resistance. Our visitors practiced their “folding skills” making different shapes and kinds of paper airplanes. We welcomed Paul Glenshaw, who spoke to our audience about Al Welsh, an early Jewish pioneer of flight who worked closely with the Wright Brothers, but sadly died in a flying accident in College Park, MD.
August 3rd – Imagine This! Robots descended on the JMM! Our visitors had a blast interacting with robots of all shapes and sizes. We would like to extend our thanks Fred and Robyn Needel for all of their help and vision in bringing high school robot teams to the JMM for the event. Special thanks to Automation Intelligence Inc, for sending their AWESOME robot to the JMM. Our visitors witnessed first-hand how this sophisticated robot played JENGA, filled crates and was able to move objects around on command via technology. Also a big thank you to Neville Jacobs for bringing his team of robots. Jennifer George gave a dynamic presentation about The Art of Rube Goldberg, and spoke with affection about her famous grandfather.
Our last Sunday, August 10th, we presented Code This! Our thanks go to the National Cryptology Museum and Bar Coding, Inc. who helped our visitors understand the science behind coding and decoding. Dr. David Hatch gave a wonderful lecture about the Enigma Machine and the early Jewish code breakers during WWI. Finally, we need to thank Mosaic Makers for their expertise in creating two panels for a beautiful mosaic that depicts a market scene back in the day when Lombard Street was a thriving, bustling center for market and commerce.
From all accounts, we heard from our visitors that the Electrified Pickle was fun, interactive and engaging. We had regular visitors who came to all five weeks of programming. We hosted some local summer camp groups, and all of the campers loved learning about science and technology. Our older audiences enjoyed going down “memory lane” and seeing some of the technology of their youth and marvel at just how far we have come…..
If you still haven’t seen the exhibit, not to worry, you have one final chance this Sunday, August 17th as the exhibit will be open regular museum hours.
Posted on August 14th, 2014 by Rachel
There are due to be some amazing objects on display within our upcoming exhibit, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen, one of which is the American flag Mendes made during his time in Egypt. The flag is an important part of our collection and has a great claim to fame, probably being the first American flag to be flown on the Nile. Though exciting that the flag will be on display throughout the duration of the exhibit, it was essential to undertake some conservation to ensure no damage comes to the flag.
Last week we had a visit from Michele Pagan, the textile conservator who is working on the flag. She has already done some great work, adding a new backing to the flag that is much lighter that what had been used previously. This layer will also act as a support to the fraying edges and will have a section sewn in to make display of the flag easier. Michele has also added a layer of red silk organza behind the red strips of the flag, giving back some of the color to the flag, without doing anything that could be potentially damaging.
Marvin Pinkert, Deborah Cardin and Michele Pagan with Mendes’ flag
At present the strongest area of the flag is the canton, the blue square, the fabric is in good condition and has lost little of the original color. In contrast the stars are starting to deteriorate, not surprising as they are only made with paper and attached with an adhesive. The stars are receiving some careful treatment from the conservator, a fine layer of silk organza is being sewn over the top of the stars, keeping them visible but offering a little extra support.. This approach is the simplest of the three options presented, but it is also the one which is least likely to prove problematic in the future.
One of the surprising things to hear from Michele was that this is possibly the most fragile flag on which she has ever worked, given that she worked on THE Star Spangled Banner, this is quite a statement! There are a number of reasons for this all of which relate to the conditions in which it was made. Mendes certainly didn’t plan to be making this flag prior to leaving America, it seems whilst travelling in Egypt his patriotism inspired him to create the flag. This means that unlike most flags of the time made of wool, Mendes had to make the most of what he had and so his flag is made of cotton.
The difference in the ways in which the materials have deteriorated comes from the quality of the cotton, the blue is of a higher thread count and was dyed prior to weaving helping it to retain its color. In contrast the red and white are of a lower thread count and it is probable that the dye was applied to the red after weaving resulting in its loss of color. We did wonder if perhaps Mendes had dyed the fabric himself, but based on this letter it seems not, dated May 3rd, 1832:
“10th day … Manfalout containing about 400 inhabitants – bazaars – apricots, cucumbers, apples (small) – purchased red, white and blue cotton to make a flag – returned on board and cut it out, my servant making it”
Packing the flag safely away again, ready for more conservation work.
The flag is a stunning piece so make sure you come and see the great work that has been done on the flag in The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen, opening September 14th 2014.
A blog post by Program Manager Trillion Attwood.