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A Love Note To Our Members

Posted on January 17th, 2020 by

JMM Insights: January 2020

We’ve talked before about how much Membership Matters, but we believe there’s never a bad time to share our love for some of the most important people who come through our doors – our members.  From exhibit openings and book signings to concerts and family days, we always get a thrill seeing the familiar faces of our JMM family here at the Museum.

We want to say thank you. And we love your support, your enthusiasm, and YOUR love for us. To show our love, we’ve got a Valentine’s Day present for all our members. Hitting your mailbox soon is a special Valentine from us to you. Bring your Valentine into the Museum during the month of February and we’ll give you a present – wrapped up with ribbons and bows. But this isn’t just any ordinary present – it’s a surprise.

Large and small, heavy and light, brightly colored and elegant and out-of-season – these presents are a mystery. We’re wrapping them up and letting you choose!

Like Valentine’s Day chocolate, we don’t want these gifts to get stale, so you’ll need to pick them up by the end of February. However, this isn’t the only way we show appreciation for our members! If you haven’t been to one of our special, members-only exhibit events, you’ve been missing out. From lion dancers in Lloyd Street Synagogue for Jewish Refugees in Shanghai to a night of magical memories for Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini to songs and stories in celebration of Scrap Yard, our members-only events are a seasonal highlight. Members should mark their calendars for Wednesday, May 27, 2020 as we enjoy the out-of-this-world opening of Jews in Space: Members of the Tribe in Orbit this Spring.

Just a few of our stellar members-only events!

Did you know that JMM members at the Lombard Street Club, Living History Circle, Lloyd Street League, and 1845 Society get FREE ADMISSION to not just our Museum, but to multiple other Museums in the Baltimore area, including the Baltimore Museum of Industry, our Jonestown neighbor The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, and the B&O Railroad Museum? Plus, if you’re a traveler, members at these premium levels ($150+) also receive free admission to Jewish museums across the country, including the Skirball in California, the Jewish Museum in New York, the Maltz Museum in Ohio, the Yiddish Book Center in Massachusetts and the Jewish Museum Milwaukee in Wisconsin!

We are thrilled that so many of our visitors support our mission and choose to become members of the Museum. You make us feel loved every day. We hope you’ll be our Valentine.

Yours Truly,

The Jewish Museum of Maryland


Be Our Valentine and Become a Member Today

Join JMM as a member between now and February 14, 2020 and you too will receive a free gift when you stop in to the Museum during the month of February. Let us show you the love!


 

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The Best Behind-the-Scenes of 2019

Posted on December 20th, 2019 by

For this month’s edition of JMM Insights, Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker collected some favorite experiences from the JMM staff to celebrate the close of 2019. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.


1. February 2019

It’s mid-December, and many people and organizations are looking back at the year that is ending and putting together lists of highlights from the past year. (Indeed, I wrote just such a post about the JMM programs at this time last year.) This year, however, we’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of reminiscing with you about the highlights of our exhibits and public programs from the past year, we decided to check in with the staff and ask about favorite moments or activities in 2019 that our members and friends couldn’t see: the best behind-the-scenes moments of 2019.

As Director of Learning and the Visitor Experience Ilene Dackman-Alon was sending thank you notes to partners and participants in the first-ever Winter Teacher’s Institute, she mused with colleagues that she would likely never get the chance to visit an embassy in the course of her JMM work. At that exact moment, Ilene’s phone rang. The caller ID read “Embassy of Poland.”

What Ilene did not yet know–but would soon find out–was the Embassy of Poland was planning a trip to Poland of education professionals. In March and April, Ilene joined the 8-day trip, designed to acquire a deeper understanding of the events that took place in Poland during WWII and to learn about the resurgence of Jewish life in Poland. Ilene writes of her trip to Poland, “the experience made me a better educator, and I am better prepared to develop education programs for teachers, helping them tackle subjects of antisemitism, racism, contemporary genocide and the Holocaust.”

(As an aside, this was not the first time a JMM staff member visited Poland in the last several years.)

2. February – March 2019

As a part of our collaboration with Stevenson University for the Year of Fashion convened, in part, by our friends at PNC Bank, students in a corporate design class helped develop a set of icons we used in one of the hands-on interactives in the gallery during Fashion Statement. To get to the end result, we met with the students several times, including a kick-off, emailed feedback, and an in-person critique of their work. It was fun for me (Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker) to see these young people take our ideas and run with it. It was even more gratifying when their professor let us know how useful the process had been to her students.

3. March 2019

It’s funny how social media adds to the work of museums. Marketing and Development Manager Rachel Kassman writes about how JMM’s social media schedule allowed her to discover a serendipitous connection between JMM and the Walters Art Museum: “This past winter I received an email from Lynley Herbert at The Walters Art Museum – she was planning to feature a beautiful Haggadah from their collections during Passover and was hoping we might be interested in sharing. Imagine my surprise when I saw a photo of the book – it was a copy of one of the Haggadahs I had just been photographing for JMM’s Passover social media posts. To be fair, hers is a first edition, but they are both lovely and I was thrilled to share about her display on our platforms.

But it doesn’t stop there. We were able to take the summer interns over to the Manuscripts & Rare Books collection at the Walters for a special tour (where they got to see the Haggadah in question, along with a number of other unique and beautiful books), JMM will be hosting a guest blog about the Haggadah during Passover 2020 and Lynley and I are looking forward to future collaborations between JMM and the Walters!”

4. April 2019

I suspect a lot of people believe, as I once did, that to display a garment, one simply needs to put it on a mannequin or dress form and walk away. The truth is considerably more complicated. In order to display something properly, you need to have a mannequin that is the same size as the garment’s original owner. And that mannequin really needs to be wearing the same kinds of undergarments the article of clothing was designed to sit over. For Director of Collections and Exhibits Joanna Church, the work of building the mounts for costume artifacts are among her favorite behind the scenes moments.

About the work for Fashion Statement, she writes: “Not only are there elements of puzzle-solving – matching up the right support garments for the right dress, creating the perfect arms or even a whole form when a commercial dress form won’t work, using creative materials to invent the ideal mount – but there’s something uniquely satisfying when you finally put that dress or suit or hat on its form, step back, and realize it works.  During the preparation process you put a garment on and off its mount as many times as needed, tweaking the supports each time, thinking ‘better… better… almost there… THERE it is.’”

5. June 2019

Every year, we do a volunteer appreciation event in the summer. A big part of the event is the distribution of raffle and door prizes. Those prizes—from tickets to other museums to gift baskets from local grocers—help show our volunteers just how much we love them, but few people realize just how much love goes into acquiring them. In preparation, the volunteer management team, headed by Membership and Volunteer Coordinator Sue Foard, scours the internet for interesting items, filling out requests for donations. Then the real work begins.

Sue calls old friends and new acquaintances to secure gifts, provide official documentation, and physically secure the gifts—often driving to the donor’s location to pick it up. (She says her favorite donor is Esther’s Place, because she doesn’t have to drive to pick up the gifts!) Even once the gifts are all in-hand, the work isn’t done, since they have to be described and displayed in a way that allows the winners to understand (and be happy about!) what they’ve won. Of the volunteer appreciation gifts, Sue asked me to say, “If you know of anyone who might be willing to donate a gift certificate or other item with a value up to $100, please send them my way!”

6. July 2019

In preparation for the Associated’s Centennial in 2020, Archivist Lorie Rombro has been digging deep into our holdings. She’s found and catalogued many items that had been buried in our collections. This work is deeply important and valuable, making our collections more accessible and more useful to our staff, to current and future researchers, and of course, to you—our members and family. But that’s not why this made our top ten list.

The highlight of this work for Lorie was watching a newly-digitized video made from the Associated’s 1941 Campaign film. This gem, unviewed for at least six decades, featured footage of the JEA, Young Men and Young Women’s Hebrew Association, Sinai, Levindale, Mt. Pleasant Sanitorium and Camp Woodlands. When the digitized file first came back to Lorie’s office, several staff crowded into the small space to watch the film on Lorie’s computer. Everyone who saw the glimpse into 1941 Baltimore on Lorie’s screen returned to their own offices with a smile.

7. August 2019

Sometimes changes at JMM originate far afield. Whether at another museum, a conference, or Executive Director Marvin Pinkert’s car ride home, JMMers are constantly looking for new and better ways to do what we do, to create meaning for our visitors, and to keep the institution exciting and relevant. This August, Marvin made the short jaunt to Philadelphia for the annual conference of the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH). There he attended a workshop with the folks from the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

About his experience there, Marvin writes, “This workshop covered how to ask more effective questions about sensitive topics in the context of a museum or historic site.  They gave some great advice on how to deal with challenging memories and contested truths in an increasingly polarized society.  It also inspired me to start JMM down the pathway of becoming a Site of Conscience.”

8. September 2019

In our 2018 annual report (p 6), we told the story of Herr Manfred Brösamle-Lambrecht, a high school teacher in Lichtenfels whose students were creating an exhibit about Jews who once lived in their town. One of the people they researched, Leo Baneman, found his way to Baltimore, and had been featured in JMM’s Lives Lost, Lives Found. Manfred’s students helped to fill in the picture of Mr. Baneman’s story, finding new information and translating it into English for us and for Mr. Baneman’s granddaughter.

In September of this year, I (Tracie) was delighted to welcome Manfred and his wife to the Museum. Former JMMer Deborah Cardin came by to meet them, since she had worked on the Lives Lost, Lives Found project. Manfred brought us a copy of the book that his students created to accompany their exhibit. As Manfred talked about his students’ experiences and we reviewed the beautiful, bilingual book, I was struck by the impact that JMM had with this project. In just this one project, so many lives were touched by the artifacts and stories that we protect. It was a goosebumps moment for me.

9. October 2019

I’ve written before about props in our exhibits. This year, we had call for some interesting additions to the gallery that required Rachel to get her hands dirty. Here’s how Rachel describes it: “There’s just something about getting your hands dirty that really makes you feel like part of the team! In preparation for our Scrap Yard exhibit, I had heard that we were still on the hunt for a few specific materials – including asphalt. When we spotted this chunk on the side of the road between the Museum and our favorite Jonestown bakery (Le Petit Poupon, for the record) how could we not take advantage of the moment and scoop up a sample? Plus, it makes me giggle every time I see my asphalt chunk behind plexiglass in the gallery.”

10. October 2019

If you have attended one of our exhibit openings in the past, you know that our events team, spearheaded by Program Manager Trillion Attwood, goes to great lengths to make sure the décor matches the theme of the exhibit in the gallery. Scrap Yard was no different. For centerpieces, Trillion decided to create flowers from recycled magazine pages. She herself created myriad scrap stems, and she enlisted the help of many of her colleagues. For a couple of weeks, the library tables and the work spaces in the Education offices were littered with delicate flower petals, all carefully snipped out of magazine pages.

At the same time, Trillion had staff and volunteers working on stringing small paper hearts (punched from old book pages!) onto garlands for our lobby skylight. Creating the recycled décor for the Scrap opening and other programs took many hours and much love. They all look amazing, and we hope they may even inspire you to think about creative ways you can reuse materials—keeping them out of landfills and beautifying your life all at the same time!

There were many more amazing moments behind-the-scenes at JMM, but these were our top ten. As we close out this calendar year, I look forward to the many moments of 2020—both in the public eye and out of it—that will make next year JMM’s best year yet!


 

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JMM Insights: Letters from Lloyd Street

Posted on November 22nd, 2019 by

For this month’s edition of JMM Insights, it’s time to check into Talia’s imaginary mail bag to review some real answers to fake customers. 


Hi Lloyd Street,

I’ve heard a lot of buzz about the new Scrap Yard exhibit that just opened. I’m thinking about visiting the exhibit, but I wanted to know- why is an exhibit on the scrap industry at the JMM?

~Scrappy Skeptic

Let me try to settle your doubts, Scrappy.

Our newest exhibit, Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling is well worth a visit. At its core, the exhibit is about what we value and even more importantly who we value. Four years in the making, Scrap Yard combines a look at the fascinating and rarely seen process of “harvesting” the material world with the stories of the multi-generational families that made this transformation possible. In many cases the stories of the scrap industry in the US start with immigrants who needed to find work that didn’t require much money or formal education. By the 1930s, it was estimated that 90% of scrap dealers were   Jewish immigrants, who started as peddlers, and built up a prosperous and important industry. These entrepreneurs required ingenuity and perseverance to make a living from what other people had thrown away.

We’re excited to share these stories, some of them from local Maryland families, with you and all of our guests. We’re also thrilled that the exhibit is so dynamic, with film clips, drone footage, and interactives, that there is something for everyone in your family.

Scrap Yard is open now, until April 26, 2020.

~Lloyd Street


Hello Lloyd Street,

I went to last year’s Great Jewish Bake Off and I’m still dreaming about those bakes. I had such a good time and I’m looking forward to this year’s event. Do you have any info about what the bakers will be serving up this year?

~Hungry Hana

Hello Hungry,

You’ll be pleased to hear that this year, our Great Jewish Bake Off theme is cookies! From rugelach, Mandelbrot and kikel, to out-of-season hamantaschen and tayglach – cookies are treats enjoyed by Jews for centuries.  On December 15th, our “amateur” bakers will be bringing their best and most beautiful variations on the theme of holiday cookies to share with the crowd. Make sure you get your tickets early, so that you don’t miss out on any of the delicious treats!

If you’re interested in channeling your own passion for baking, we encourage you to sign up as a baker yourself. Click here for our baker’s sign up form!

~Lloyd Street


Dear Lloyd Street:

I always enjoy coming to your Museum, and I’m looking forward to seeing the new exhibit. I really like to take my time in your galleries, so that I can read everything, but last time I visited, the gallery was full of students. They seemed to be having a lot of fun, as they rushed around counting chickens and pressing down on the baler, but it made it hard for me to absorb the information. Why are there so many kids right now?

~Focused Ferdinand

Hi Focused,

It’s true, there has been an increase in the number of school groups visiting the Museum this fall. It’s all thanks to our amazing education staff and special funding, such as from the late Suzanne Cohen, which makes us more accessible for students and teachers to visit. Through this hard work and support, we’re reaching students who may be walking into a synagogue for the first time, and teaching them stories full of empathy and compassion. It’s no wonder that they’re excited when they visit, as they participate in dynamic educational programs.

When you visited you must have spotted one of these school visits. We offer many different education programs, that connect to themes of immigration, innovation, family, and history.  These programs take place in our historic synagogues, in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit, and in our special exhibits which rotate over the year. Our newest exhibit, Scrap Yard, has also given us the opportunity to connect history and STEM, as we work with students from public, private, Jewish, and homeschools. All programs are facilitated by our excellent museum educators who help students meaningfully interact with the exhibits.

If you want to join in the fun, or you know a student who would enjoy hands-on, active learning, contact Paige Woodhouse at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org or (443) 873-5167. Teachers can request a visit using our online school visit form.

~Lloyd Street


Dear Lloyd Street:

I can’t believe it’s already November, and I’m thinking about the holidays coming up! I want to do something meaningful to celebrate Thanksgiving, and I’m trying to figure out what to get everyone for Hanukkah! There’s so much to do, and not enough time to do it. Can you help me out?

~Stressed Shmuel

Hi Stressed,

We can support you in all your holiday needs, so no need to fret! First of all, have you checked out our Upstanders Initiative, in partnership with JVC? Jewish Volunteer Connection has always worked to connect folks to volunteer opportunities in their own neighborhood and they provide lots of levels of engagement. As part of our partnership, we’ve worked together to come up with five different opportunities relating to our newest exhibit, Scrap Yard, ranging from one-on-one tutoring, recycling old clothes, cleaning up green spaces, and more! We encourage you to take the stories from our Museum and turn them into action this holiday season.

As for Hanukkah shopping, you know we have that covered!

Our gift shop, Esther’s Place, always has beautiful Judaica, interesting books, and fun toys for kids to help you out. We even have new products that expand on our Scrap Yard exhibit’s themes of recycling. Plus, we’re participating in Museum Store Sunday on December 1st. Swing by the Museum anytime we’re open to check out all these goodies. Shopping at Esther’s Place isn’t just a great way to check off your gift list, it also helps support the Museum!

~Lloyd Street


 

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