Posted on July 19th, 2013 by Rachel
A blog post by Education Intern Trillion Attwood. To read more posts by Trillion and other JMM interns, click here.
One of the really fun things about being an intern is the field trips that we take. Before the internship started we were asked to select from a list the places we would most like to visit, as soon as I saw The Holocaust Memorial Museum’s stores, I knew this would be the one I would look forward to most. We finally got our chance yesterday.
There is a statistic that museums only show ten percent of there collection, ninety percent of the time, so I knew that this would be an opportunity to see some amazing objects that I would never see otherwise. As I expected it was a very unassuming building, you would drive past without a second glance, inside though it opened up to be something like the most organized Aladdin’s cave I have ever seen.
Heather Kajic, the Chief of Collections Management, took the time to show us around and see some of the highlights, but also some of the ways that they have tackled some of the common issues faced by museums. For example, the collection was arranged in such a way that it was possible to remove any object from it’s storage location easily and without ever physically touching the object, meaning the collection is protected but accessible.
For me one of the most memorable moments was seeing a collection of paintings that were created in a labor camp, but cannot be put on display due to copyright issues. This can be a common issue in museums, so it was a privilege to have a chance to see them up close. We also saw a selection of clothes worn in concentration camps. One particular pair of pants still had the stains acquired though hard physical labor, which for me made them even more emotive.
On the same day we also had a chance to visit Bonsai Fine Arts, where the one of the owners Scott Pittman and his colleague John Eaton, took the time to show us around. Here we had a chance to learn about some of the practical elements regarding moving artworks. This was a fascinating experience, as an intern this is not something that had come up previously, and was never been mentioned throughout my education.
Me with one of Bonsai’s crates, with a bonsai tree design.
As we walked around we could see the care that goes into creating these creates, they were some of the most beautiful creates I have ever seen, not something I thought I would ever hear myself saying. One of the fun things that we learnt was that certain art galleries have all their creates painted a certain color for easy recognition, for example we saw the specific shades that The Whitney and The National Gallery use.
Bonsai’s exceptionally clean workshop.
Learning from Scott about creating the inside of a crate.
Overall it was another fantastic experience and I know I learnt lots, I really appreciate the time that people took out of their days to enable this opportunity. I am already looking forward to the next trip and getting to use some of what I learnt.
Bonsai’s pretty crates.
Posted on July 3rd, 2013 by Rachel
On the last Friday in June, just ahead of the enormous sesquicentennial crowds, JMM’s education department made a field trip to Gettysburg. The central purpose of the trip was to gain inspiration for hands-on activities for school groups and families. We intend to add these experiences to Passages through the Fire: Jews and the American Civil War, a traveling exhibit opening at JMM on October 13, 2013. They let me come along for the ride.
There were conversations with re-enactors, a visit to a sutler (the supplier of re-enactment gear) and one more high point (literally): the Seminary Ridge Museum. It was a last-minute decision to make this a part of my visit. Barbara Franco, the director of this new museum, is a treasured friend and colleague. I had remembered that the Seminary Ridge Museum was opening as part of the Gettysburg commemorations, but from a flyer I suddenly realized that it was in fact 48 hours from opening its doors to the public. I took a chance and made an unannounced appearance, and Barbara was extremely gracious, taking time from her last minute preparations to offer me a preview of the facility.
Seminary Old Dorm, 1915 era. Image courtesy Seminary Ridge Museum.
The three upper floors of the building tell three stories about three roles that the Lutheran Seminary and specifically this building, Schmucker Hall, played in US History. The top floor tells the story of July 1, 1863, the day Gen. John Buford went to the cupola atop the building and decided that the Union would take up a defensive position here, determining that this would be the site for one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War. The floor below tells the story of the Seminary as field hospital, serving the wounded at the end of the battle.
But the lower exhibit floor, entitled “Faith and Freedom”, really intrigued me. It tells the story of Christian clergy, churches and seminaries in relationship to the struggle over slavery and its abolition. I had spent a fair amount of time in June looking at the records of the Lloyd Street Synagogue at the outset of the war and re-reading the sermons/writing of Rabbi Illoway and Rabbi Einhorn as the debate over slavery made its way through Baltimore in 1861 (see Todd’s blog post from last Friday). The parallels in the arguments within the Christian and Jewish community were quite remarkable. It’s not just that both communities’ leaders cited the same biblical passages to make their respective cases, it’s also that in both communities the argument about slavery became wrapped up in larger theological questions of reform vs. tradition. Rev. Schmucker’s Lutheran church even had a dispute over the use of English rather than German in congregational rituals that echoes debates in the German Jewish community of the period.
Image courtesy of Seminary Ridge Museum.
I found the exhibit very thought-provoking and hope to work with Barbara on an exchange of programs during the period when Passages through the Fire is on display here in Baltimore. In the meantime, if you are headed to Gettysburg for to see the 150th, this is a new feature not to be missed.
A blog post by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. To read other posts by Marvin, click here!
Posted on July 2nd, 2013 by Rachel
A blog post by Education Intern Marissa Walker. To read additional posts by Marissa and other interns, click here.
Last Friday, the Education and Programs department took a work trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. We had recently been discussing the museum’s upcoming Jews in the Civil War exhibit extensively with the museum’s curator, Karen Falk, and were hoping to gain some inspiration through an exploration of the famous Civil War battlefield.
After a brief peek into the Visitor Center, we grabbed a map and began our journey through history on the first leg of the Auto Tour around the historic site. With Education Director Ilene at the wheel and Programs Manager Rachel ceremoniously guiding us through the tour map with much gusto, we immersed ourselves in the story of America’s bloodiest battle. There could be no self-respecting historic battle recap without historically accurate background music and sound effects, so I provided the bugle blares, while intern Trillion banged the theoretical drums, and visitor coordinator Abby filled out the treble clef with some excellent “fife” playing. We felt very patriotic, indeed.
After exploring the first half of the auto tour and the northern portion of the battlefield, we backtracked to the town surrounding the site and met Museum President Marvin Pinkert for a very productive brainstorming lunch. During our meal, we discussed possible educational programs and activities to include in the package we might offer school groups coming to see the Civil War exhibit in the fall.
One idea we tossed around was a “Make a Monument” activity. In theory, kids would design their own monument, explain what it represents, write about why they chose to commemorate that particular person, event, or place. This idea sprung from our amazement at all the different monuments and commemorations found all over the Gettysburg battlefield, each one immortalizing a different person or group of people, and completely unique.
We had also had a chance to speak with a few living historians during our visit, and agreed that a great addition to the exhibit might be a very simple military-issue tent set up, where young kids would be able to interact with the living quarters typical of a soldier during the Civil War time period. Sutlers, a stores specializing in historically accurate reproductions of clothing, utensils, and general accouterments of soldiers and their families on the home front, typically carry these kinds of items, so we decided to go out in search of one before we began our drive back.
After an enjoyable walk and a lovely, if slightly unexpected, rain shower, we found one! It was delightful to browse through all of the interesting items re-enactors use on a daily basis to authenticate their characters, and to see the world of possibilities for kids programs and activities. Feeling exhilarated and excited to bring our ideas to fruition, we parted ways with Marvin, and headed back to the car, and south towards Baltimore, intent on incorporating all we had learned into our future museum education plans.
Check back tomorrow for a different perspective on the Gettysburg field trip from none other than our Executive Director Marvin Pinkert!