Museums and Society

Posted on February 23rd, 2017 by

Earlier this week I hosted a group of students from Johns Hopkins University who are taking a class exploring the theme of Museums and Social Responsibility. In addition to coursework and lectures, during which students discuss and debate the extent to which museums serve as vehicles for social change, students also participate in field trips to several museums where they have the opportunity to learn about the many different ways in which museums engage with their communities. Students are also expected to work with a museum of their choice to help design a project that helps a museum respond to a specific challenge.

During their visit to the JMM, eight students toured our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit as well as the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Voices of Lombard Street

During their visit to the JMM, eight students toured our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit as well as the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Programs Manager Trillion leads the tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

Programs Manager Trillion leads the tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

We then spent the remainder of our time together in the Lloyd Street Synagogue (LSS) where we talked about how our Museum approaches community engagement through public and educational programs. Students were especially interested in learning about how even though the JMM mainly serves a Jewish audience (and our history and mission are directly tied to providing opportunities for Jewish visitors to connect to their heritage), we also are deeply committed to serving non-Jewish audiences and to providing a venue for discourse and discovery for visitors of diverse backgrounds.

The class checks out "The Synagogue Speaks"

The class checks out “The Synagogue Speaks”

When asked about a challenge that the JMM faces, we talked about how our staff has been searching for ways to animate the LSS beyond our regular public tours. For the past few months, staff has been in conversation with one another as well as with our colleagues at other historic sites and museums in an effort to reexamine our preconceived notions about what attracts visitors to visit and how we can conduct small scale programmatic experiments to help us engage new audiences. Students were interested in hearing about these conversations as they asked terrific questions and offered suggestions for new ideas.

We look forward to working with several of the students in the months ahead and to seeing what exciting new ideas they come up with!

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

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Greetings Graham: Halloween Edition

Posted on October 21st, 2016 by

No Tricks, Just Treats!

Greetings Graham,

I am always on the hunt for other worldly spirits and was looking for a new location to explore. Do you have any suggestions?

The Ghost Busters

 

Dear GB:

While we have not heard of our Museum campus being haunted, I would encourage you to take one of our regularly scheduled tours of our two historic synagogues, Lloyd Street Synagogue and B’nai Israel, to learn about the different congregations that worshipped there as well as to admire the beautiful architecture. On the tour, you will also be able to appreciate the building in a whole new light (with fewer dark shadows) as we have recently completed some improvements to the Lloyd Street Synagogue. We have repaired missing lamps, installed new carpeting, cleaned the cushions for the pew seats, and repainted areas that suffered scars and scuffs from wear. There is also a new mezuzah affixed to the doorpost of the synagogue. While we did not find any ghosts, we did uncover a beautiful spiritual place.

A spruced up synagogue!

A spruced up synagogue!

 

Greetings Graham,

In my travels around the world, I overheard you have a wonderful exhibit on Jews and Medicine.  Could you tell me a bit more about it?

The Golem

Dear TG:

Yes, we are in the last ninety days of the Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America exhibit, as the exhibit closes on January, 16, 2017! Inside the exhibit, you’ll journey through the worlds of health in the mid-20th century, from med school to the doctor’s office, hospital, lab and pharmacy-and even a trip to the gym. You will also view rarely seen historic manuscripts, experience hands-on encounters with medicine and ethics, and examine the links between traditions and contemporary practices. You may also learn some surprising facts in the exhibit. For instance, did you know that in the 20th century, Jewish nurses were expected both to learn to serve tea properly AND to sing Christmas carols! Or that in the 19th century, anyone who could afford to pay tuition could attend medical school (a high school diploma was not even needed). If you would like to find out more, please visit our website. We hope you will visit soon, and maybe you can even bring a friend or two!

Come explore Beyond Chicken Soup!

Come explore Beyond Chicken Soup!

 

Greetings Graham,

I am the headmaster of a wizarding school and a student of mine told me that he flew into your Museum last month to see the world premiere of Henrietta Szold’s performance. Can you tell me more about Henrietta and how can I arrange the actress to perform at my school?

Professor Dumledore

Dear PD:

We launched our newest living history character, Henrietta Szold, last month to rave reviews. Henrietta Szold, was the daughter of a rabbi who broke with the traditional role of women to become a champion of Jewish engagement. Her tenacity and courage played a vital role in the expansion of social services, medical services and the founding of the state of Israel.

Natalie Pilcher Smith as Henrietta

Natalie Pilcher Smith as Henrietta

Henrietta is eager to begin performing at schools, senior centers, synagogues and other organizations. Please contact me at 443-873-5167 or by email at ghumphrey@jewishmuseummd.org to schedule your visit. The cost is $300 plus mileage per performance, but we also offer subsides for schools. If you are at the Museum you may also try and spot the bust and plaque of Henrietta!

 

Greetings Graham,

I’m normally pretty busy this time of year, but a few of my friends are asking of things to do in the area. I usually go drinking on Halloween itself, but do you have anything to get me in the mood the day before?

Count D

Dear CD:

We have planned our ghoulish stuff for pre-Halloween, Sunday, Oct. 30th (which is also our Free Fall Day, freaky, right?) Our special lecture will be “Collecting, Preserving and Exhibiting: Exploring the Collections of the Nation’s Medical Museum”. You never know what lurks in their basement. When you are in the Museum, check out our shop where we have some medically themed merchandise, some of which might make nice gifts for Dr. Moreau or Dr. Frankenstein or other similarly disposed physicians on your Halloween treat list.

Some perfectly spooky options for this Halloween!

Some perfectly spooky options for this Halloween!

For more creepy fun you can also stay connected to the JMM by visiting our social media pages where we are featuring the hashtag #PageFrights, which is a month long social media celebration of Halloween. And if you need a break from the radio’s endless repetition of Monster Mash – we have something for you too: The ShowTime Singers will also be offering a free after hours concert at 5pm where they will be performing songs that audiences can easily relate to – and perhaps even sing along with – like Broadway tunes, patriotic numbers and even a little rock and roll.

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Creating Specialty Tours

Posted on May 27th, 2016 by

Last year, the JMM was approached by George Washington University requesting that the JMM be a host site for graduate students enrolled in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts program, the first program of its kind in the country.  Our museum would serve as a setting for graduate students to learn how Jewish museums provide experiential learning opportunities to our visitors, both students and adults.

Shoshana at work

Shoshana at work

We were very lucky to meet Shoshana Hirschhorn, a Michigan native, via Charlotte, North Carolina to DC/Baltimore.  Shoshana took the train from DC twice a week to the JMM for her internship.  Shoshana always comes to work with a smile on her face-awaiting the day’s new challenges.

Last Thursday was Shoshana’s last day of her internship with us at the JMM.  She is off to spend the summer at her second internship with Yeshiva University Museum.  We wish her well and look forward to her visit with us at the end of the summer!

-Ilene Dackman-Alon, Education Director

Working at a museum is an exciting experience where no two days are ever the same. The past eight months at the Jewish Museum of Maryland have been wonderful!

Coming to the Museum having been an elementary school teacher in a large urban school district and a Hebrew school teacher, I was curious to see how the JMM accommodated both of these groups of students. As an intern at the JMM, one of my primary responsibilities was to help with school groups and school programs. I helped to design education resources in connection with the exhibitions, Paul Simon: Words & Music and the Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America. I also had the opportunity to help design two of the specialty tours of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. The first, the Sounds of the Synagogue tour, looked at the Synagogue in the context of the Paul Simon exhibition, focusing on music and sounds heard throughout the building’s life as both a synagogue and church.

Ilene puts on her "history detective" accessories for the Book, Bell, and Candle tour.

Ilene puts on her “history detective” accessories for the Book, Bell, and Candle tour.

The second tour came about in connection with MADE: In America and the naming of the Carroll Mansion as the 2016 All American House. I, along with another intern, other members of the Education Team, and Executive Director, Marvin Pinkert, researched and developed a concept for the tour to accompany the Lloyd Street Synagogue’s title as the All American Synagogue. This tour looks at the material culture of the building, including information about the designers, builders, and crafters involved in the construction of the building. The exciting twist is that this tour allows visitors to take on the role of “history detective” as certain mysteries remain regarding the specific items discussed on the tour. The lingering questions are ones we were unable to find answers to during the research phase, so they in turn became part of the experience. The visitors can help the Education Team think of different places to look or alternative ideas as well as come up with their own questions they would like answered.

The research behind this tour was extensive, searching through numerous newspaper articles and contacting specialists, while hitting multiple dead ends along the way. Curiosity propelled my search, which made things difficult when the idea was to leave the tour open ended came up. I still wanted to know – who brought the original Torah used by the congregants? What happened to the bell? What did the first Ner Tamid look like? Hopefully this curiosity for knowing the story behind the objects translates to the visitors and they too become interested in the origins of the parts that make up the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

A Clue Card

A Clue Card

The projects and programs I have worked on have shown me the power of education in museums and their ability to bring learning to life. The most rewarding part of my time at the Museum was the direct interactions with the children visiting the JMM on school field trips and helping to guide their educational experiences.

The greatest lessons I have learned here are the practical need for flexibility and the importance of connecting museum activities to classroom learning. Coursework from my program in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts at GW has supported me throughout this internship.

Blog post by education intern Shoshana Hirschhorn. To read more posts by and about interns, click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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