Another Day in the Dumps

Posted on August 14th, 2013 by

It was a dreary Tuesday in Baltimore. My Dark Sky app predicted light rain for another 20 minutes. The interns exchanged their normal work attire for grubbies. It was the perfect day for a dumpster party!

2013 Summer interns [Front Row] Clare, Erin, Kathleen, Todd [Back] Kathy, Marissa, Elaine, Trillion had so much fun at the dumpster party, we took their “class picture” inside the dumpster.

2013 Summer interns [Front Row] Clare, Erin, Kathleen, Todd [Back] Kathy, Marissa, Elaine, Trillion had so much fun at the dumpster party, we took their “class picture” inside the dumpster.

We pulled out some ancient crates that have been hiding under staircases and tossed them into the dumpster.

Don’t worry, those crates were certainly used more than once!

Don’t worry, those crates were certainly used more than once!

Remember that really tall TV cabinet that we re-painted for every exhibition?

Visitors crowd around the TV cabinet at the opening of Nancy Patz: Her Inward Eye  in April 2010.

Visitors crowd around the TV cabinet at the opening of Nancy Patz: Her Inward Eye in April 2010.

Wheeled off on two dollies, turned end-over-end and flat on the bottom of the dumpster!

With flat-screen TVs we don’t need a huge cabinet anymore.

With flat-screen TVs we don’t need a huge cabinet anymore.

A couple of rolling chairs that no longer roll, and a dozen or so cracked vitrines were added to the pile.

Then it was time to tackle all of the cardboard bins. Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to throw them into the dumpster. But that didn’t stop the interns from breaking down a bunch of boxes by any means necessary—knife, scissors, keys, and some karate kicks.

Many hands make quick work.

Many hands make quick work.

They’re all stacked up and ready to go out with our next recycling.

Can you believe TODAY was our monthly pick-up and we missed it?!

Can you believe TODAY was our monthly pick-up and we missed it?!

Marissa was a bit sad about the amount of non-recyclable foam components and packing material there was.  Kathleen was practical about the approach, “It had to be done.”

Besides re-using the material, what other options do we have for reducing landfill waste?

Besides re-using the material, what other options do we have for reducing landfill waste?

I called it a party, so of course we had cake…

…and cookies, and peanut M&Ms!

…and cookies, and peanut M&Ms!

The JMM summer internship officially concluded on Friday August 9. On behalf of the entire staff of the JMM I would like to thank Trillion Attwood, Elaine Hall, Kathy Harper, Kathleen Morrison, Todd Nesson, Erin Pruhs, Yonah Reback, Clare Robbins and Marissa Walker for all of their hard work and contributions to the Museum this summer… including filling the dumpster!

JobiA blog post by Senior Collections Manager and Official Intern Wrangler Jobi Zink. To read more post by Jobi, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Chanukah in July AND Answers about the Goblet of Fire

Posted on July 12th, 2013 by

If you’ve ever been on one of my behind-the-scenes collections tours, or read my blog posts, you may recall that one of my very favorite artifacts in the collections is what I call the “Goblet of Fire,” named, of course for the Harry Potter novel.  Well, I found out more information about it! See previous posts Selecting Collections and The Goblet of Fire.

In the event that you’ve missed it, our “Goblet of Fire” is the gold-colored vessel that the Rogers Avenue Synagogue used to hold the ashes when they burned their mortgage back in 1975. Knowing that Harry Potter references aren’t exactly the preferred lexicon, in my catalog record I described the artifact as a “compote dish.” And it turns out I wasn’t too far off the mark.

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A few weeks I was talking to Irwin Cohen, about the Chanukah House that his family created in the 1980s on Park Heights Avenue. Irwin’s father, Morris, had already donated some photographs and newspaper clippings about the festive home bedecked with colorful lights and oversized dreidels.  I was interested in collecting some more personal items, such as notes, or cards, or stories that visitors shared with the Cohen family expressing what an impact this one-of-a-kind house had on people—both Jewish and non-Jewish.

The Chanukah House, as it was named by the Baltimore Sun. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

The Chanukah House, as it was named by the Baltimore Sun. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

According to Irwin, he didn’t set out on a mission to create “the Chanukah House” when he picked up nine shiny knights at a shop in Williamsburg in July, 1988. He just thought they would make a really great menorah—and he had five months to build it. The first year, the decorations were pretty sparse –just the giant menorah and some lights.

The original menorah created by Irwin Cohen. The idea for the menorah began back in July 1988. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

The original menorah created by Irwin Cohen. The idea for the menorah began back in July 1988. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

Little by little, the family added to the display. The decorations were a combination of Chanukah symbols –dreidels, menorah—pop culture references such as Adam Sandler (“singing” the Chanukah song via CD player), Elmo from Sesame Street, teddy bears, Fiddlers on Rooves and general kitsch.

 Chanukah Barbie

Chanukah Barbie

There was even a Chanukah Barbie scandal. Apparently the 3 ½ foot tall Barbie’s sleeveless evening dress was offensive to one particular woman, who thought she should be more modestly dressed in keeping with Orthodox customs. To mollify the woman, Irwin added a mink fur stole to cover her bare shoulders.

The JMM has Frum clothing for dolls in its collection.

The JMM has Frum clothing for dolls in its collection.

Pretty soon people were driving past this Park Heights house to behold the spectacle Chanukah cards were sold featuring a photograph of the house in its splendor!  In later years, there is a community-wide menorah lighting ceremony.

Children with their candles (or perhaps Harry Potter wands) gather in the Cohen’s front yard for the menorah lighting ceremony.

Children with their candles (or perhaps Harry Potter wands) gather in the Cohen’s front yard for the menorah lighting ceremony.

Many elected officials attended the event and got to light a candle, too. Irwin told me a story of how the Cohen family was enjoying dinner when they thought they saw Governor O’Malley with his young son (and two body-guards in tow) in front of the house. When Anne and Morris Cohen invited the Governor inside O’Malley said “Chanukah wouldn’t be Chanukah if I didn’t stop by the Chanukah House.”

Rikki Spector, Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Mayor Martin O’Malley, and Sheila Dixon attend the menorah lighting in 2007. Anne Cohen is in the background. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

Rikki Spector, Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Mayor Martin O’Malley, and Sheila Dixon attend the menorah lighting in 2007. Anne Cohen is in the background. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

I enjoyed “celebrating” Chanukah in July with Mr. Cohen.

Morris and Anne Cohen

Morris and Anne Cohen

A few minutes after we hung up, my phone rang again. It’s Irwin. He has another story for me.  He had seen my blog post and had the answer to my question How Was this Bowl Chosen?  In 1974 his grandmother passed away. The family received a number of fruit baskets during shiva including one in a gold-footed bowl from Raimondi’s. It was an attractive bowl, so they decided to save it.

A year later, Morris was looking for something to burn the mortgage in. Irwin, home from college, informed his dad he knew the perfect thing to use. He went downstairs and found the fruit bowl.  The rest, as they say, is history!

JobiA blog post by Senior Collections Manager and Registrar Jobi Zink. To read other posts by Jobi, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




JMM Insights: June 2013

Posted on June 21st, 2013 by

This month we asked Senior Collections Manager and official Intern Wrangler Jobi Zink to give you an inside look at our internship program.

~Marvin

 Internship Insights

Now in its 8th year, the JMM Internship program is gaining a reputation for training the next generation of museum professionals. Since 2006, we’ve offered 113 internships in collections, exhibitions, education & programs, and development.

IMG_2572Our 10-week summer internship program attracts undergraduate and graduate students from across the country—Washington (State), Tennessee, Minnesota, and California are represented this summer, as well as Maryland—while our fall, spring and winter internships tend to draw from the local colleges and universities. Many students use the internship to confirm their passion for the museum field before pursuing a Master’s degree, while others use it as a springboard for teaching careers.

The JMM internship program includes a series of professional-development workshops and training. Object handling and digital photography are taught during orientation, while proposal writing, public speaking and resumes, cover letters & interview skills are scheduled later, after the interns have had a chance to become comfortable in their day-to-day activities in the museum.

IMG_2277Another distinguishing component of our internship program is the field trips to other museums and cultural organizations in the area. By exposing the interns to the vast variety of museums—historic houses, super-small theme-specific, enormous, art, history, or science museums—they see that working in a museum is wonderful, but no two museums are the same, and no museum is free of problems. The field trips often introduce departments that the JMM does not have like conservation or fabrication. Afterwards, staff and interns talk about what they learned, and describe their experiences in blog posts.

The JMM is grateful to Saralyn and Sheldon Glass and Saul L. Ewing, LLC for sponsoring the 2013 Saralyn and Sheldon Glass Education and Program interns and the Robert L. Weinberg Collections and Exhibitions interns. If you’d like to sponsor JMM interns, please contact Development Manager Rachel Kassman at rkassman@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6402 x225.

Now, let us introduce this year’s summer intern class – you can also follow along with our intern exploits at our blog, using the “interns” tag!

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Katharine Harper:

Katharine HarperI am currently a senior at UMBC where I am majoring in Art History and minoring in Psychology. I am really interested in museums/galleries and currently am planning on applying to Law School. As far as careers go, I would love to work in the legal side of the arts world.

Though I have only been an intern at the Jewish Museum of Maryland for about two and half weeks now, as my first internship, it has been an extremely enlightening experience. I have learned a lot about the operations that go behind the scenes of a museum, such as with the maintenance of the museum’s collections. So far, I have learned how to use the PastPerfect database, and I’ve learned about cataloguing and accessioning, and I’ve also learned how to perform condition reports and house objects. I think that this internship will greatly increase my knowledge of museums and will therefore aid my potential future career choice.IMG_2118

Yonah Reback:

Yonah RebackHi! My name is Yonah Reback and I am a rising Junior at Johns Hopkins University where I am pursuing my B.A./M.A. in History, with an eye toward law school down the line. I have come all the way from my hometown of Seattle, WA, to spend my summer interning at the Jewish Museum of Maryland!

My internship at the JMM  focuses on researching an exciting new exhibition, slated to open in August 2014. Though not officially named, the exhibition will spotlight the life of Mendes I. Cohen, one of Baltimore’s most fascinating Jewish characters. Part ‘Forrest Gump,’ part ‘Indiana Jones,’ Mendes Cohen defended Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, helped run his family’s successful banking business, and traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East. Most significantly, Mendes was the first American-Jew to experience the land of Israel in the 1830s. I look forward to bringing this wonderful project to life during my time at the JMM this summer and invite you to visit when our exhibition opens!IMG_2605

Erin Pruhs:

Erin PruhsI’m from a suburb of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. I received my undergraduate degree in Anthropology/Archaeology at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.  In the fall, I will be starting my second year of the masters program at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. I am in the Masters of Science Anthropology degree program focusing on Midwest late prehistoric archaeology, specifically dealing with ceramic analysis.  I am also in the Certificate in Museum Studies program that is held at the Milwaukee Public Museum and instructed by museum staff. My career goals right after college would be to work as an archaeologist for a few years in the field and then working in collections at a natural history museum.

I am working on the archaeological collection from the Lloyd Street Synagogue excavation.  I have been going through the various bags of artifacts and photographing the objects and attaching the images to the records in Past Perfect.

IMG_2287Elaine Hall:

Elaine HallI was born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland but lived in Catonsville for four years while attending the University of Maryland Baltimore County. At UMBC I completed a BS in Biological Science and a BA in Cultural Anthropology. This fall I will begin my Master of Public Health at the University of Maryland, College Park. I have a lot of interests in Public Health ranging from education to policy and from health access problems to sexual health- and I’m not quite sure what direction I will be taking yet.

I was drawn to the Jewish Museum of Maryland this summer because of the Jewish Health and Healing project. It has been, and I’m sure will continue to be, a good combination of my history in biology and anthropology and my future in public health. We are in the beginning stages of research and planning for this exhibit. It has been really fun to get to put to use the knowledge I have gained in school and to get a look into how much really goes into the planning of an exhibit.

IMG_2288Todd Nesson:

Todd Nesson

My name is Todd Nesson and I was born and raised in Owings Mills, MD. I am currently pursuing my MA in History at UMBC where my thesis work is focusing on Jewish organized crime in America.

As an intern at the JMM, I have been conducting research for the upcoming exhibit Passages through Fire: Jews and the Civil War, which is coming from the Yeshiva University Museum in October. The focus of my work has been on adding a Maryland twist to the story and demonstrating the war’s impact on Baltimore and Maryland Jewry along with their varied responses to the war and its attendant issues.

 

Intern Orientation 06.03.2013 324Trillion Attwood

Trillion Bremen

I am English and recently moved here, having married my American husband. I went to school back in England where I studied at the University of Liverpool getting a BA and MA in Egyptology and an MA in Museum studies at University of Leicester. I am looking to develop a career in museums, not necessarily with a focus on Egyptology, possibly in education or collections.

Within the museum sector one area that I am really interested in is the way in which museums can cater for older people. I had my first American experience in this area last week, when we visited the JCC for a session on gefilte fish. It was an excellent session, led by Ilene Dackman-Alon, almost every person present was able to contribute in some way with a story about gefilte fish. It seemed like everyone enjoyed the day, I know I had a fantastic time and learnt loads.

IMG_2226Marissa Walker

Marissa WalkerHi there! I’m Marissa Walker, an education and programs intern. I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, but moved to the greater Baltimore area to attend Goucher College. At Goucher, I was a dance performance and English writing double major. After graduating, I moved back to Cincinnati for a year and a half, where I attended the University of Cincinnati for a year in order to obtain an Adult ESL graduate level teaching certificate. I have always been interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the area of museums, and felt this internship would be an excellent way for me to narrow down which area sparks my interest. In addition to furthering my education, I am also ambitious in the performance world, hoping to continue my career as an aerial circus performer and dancer on a professional level.

It’s hard for me to choose one thing I have learned so far during my time at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, as I already feel I have gained so much knowledge across the board. Working on revamping and creating supplemental educational materials for the current and upcoming exhibits has been very educational for me as a developer. I have also loved beginning to work with all the social media we are using for outreach in an educational context. I find that aspect of museum programming and marketing to be fascinating.

IMG_2508Clare Robbins 

Clare RobbinsHi everyone! My name is Clare Robbins, and this summer I am interning with the Collections Department at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  I am from Murfreesoboro, Tennessee, and earned my bachelor’s in history from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.  I am currently working on my master’s in public history at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  After I graduate, I would like to work in a museum world and pursue a career in collections management.

So far this summer, I processed some of the objects from the 2012-2013 donations.  This proved to not only been a great learning experience but also quite enjoyable.  I loved learning the story behind various objects like a rope that a nursing student at Sinai Hospital used to keep her keys on when working in the psychiatric wing in the 1950s.  I even liked finding a place for all the objects in collection storage rooms as it was a great way to explore the rest of the objects in JMM’s collections.

IMG_2258Kathleen Morrison

Kathleen MorrisonMy name is Kathleen Morrison. I was born in Washington DC, moved to Frederick, MD when I was three, and was raised there. Last year, my parents and I moved to Baltimore to take advantage of the richer cultural life in the city. This May, I graduated Magna Cum Laude from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in Southern Maryland with a Bachelor of the Arts in History. I’m not sure what I want to do yet, but I love history and I know I want to have a career where I can work with it every day. Whether that means preservation, writing, or education, I don’t know. Hopefully my future holds a mix of all three.

So far, I’ve been cataloging papers donated last year. Many of them are very interesting and provide an insight to not only daily Jewish life in Maryland, but also daily life around the middle of the century. One of the most interesting papers I’ve come across is a sadly anti-Semitic, anti-African American housing deed, which stipulates that the sale to the new owners is only valid as long as they never rent,r sell, or house Jews or African-Americans on the property. How the original owner intended to enforce this is unknown, but it’s a reminder of how much things have changed for the better today.

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Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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