Changing Up the Exhibition

Posted on December 17th, 2014 by

This month, we made a small change to The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit: We switched out Mendes’ passports.

Your friendly neighborhood Collections Manager opens up the secured exhibit case.

Your friendly neighborhood Collections Manager opens up the secured exhibit case.

Why? Well, for starters, because the lender – the Maryland Historical Society – asked us to.  They loaned us eight passports, with the caveat that each be on display for only three months. Before the exhibit opened, we planned out which passports would go out together, based on the space available in the exhibit case.  The first visitors to the exhibit saw Italian, Greek, and Russian travel documents from the 1830s; now, from the same time period, you’ll see documents in Russian and Arabic.  In March, we’ll make another change.

Each document rests on a sheet of acid-free paper, as a barrier between the exhibit case surface (and other documents). These passports will go into storage, with others taking their place on display.

Each document rests on a sheet of acid-free paper, as a barrier between the exhibit case surface (and other documents). These passports will go into storage, with others taking their place on display.

Paper, like many historic materials, is very susceptible to light.  Light damage is cumulative and irreversible; it fades inks, alters colors, and weakens the structural integrity of the paper itself. Museums and libraries have to maintain a delicate balance between making items available for research, display, and enjoyment . . . and keeping them safely tucked away for posterity in a nice dark, climate-controlled, secure environment. We often compromise by restricting the length of time certain items can be on display, and by lighting the space with a minimum of foot-candles – this translates to short, dimly lit exhibits. Perhaps you’ve visited exhibits of textiles, books, or photographs, and wondered, “Why did they make it so dark in here?” Now you know!

Why the blue gloves? They’re made of nitrile rubber, an inert material, and prevent the natural oils etc. on your skin from transferring to the document.

Why the blue gloves? They’re made of nitrile rubber, an inert material, and prevent the natural oils etc. on your skin from transferring to the document.

Want to learn more? Check out this article on protecting paper on exhibit, from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts from Joanna click HERE.

 

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Amazing Partnerships at the JMM!

Posted on June 18th, 2014 by

Partnerships are something that we take seriously at the JMM and many of our programs and initiatives are conducted in collaboration with other institutions. We frequently work with other museums to develop and promote programs and we belong to such networks as the Greater Baltimore History Alliance (www.baltimoremuseums.org) and the Council of American Jewish Museums (www.cajm.net) which foster collaboration among member organizations.

Our next major original exhibition, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen, takes the concept of partnerships to new heights.

Opening September 14th - but you can start following Mendes and his travels now on Facebook!

Opening September 14th – but you can start following Mendes and his travels now on Facebook!

We are developing the exhibition as a joint project with the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS). As the MdHS is the custodian of many important artifacts and documents relating to Mendes Cohen, including the dozens of letters he wrote home during his travels, this partnership is truly a win/win for both organizations.

The JMM is incredibly grateful to the Burt Kummerow, director of MHS, and his staff for all of their assistance with this project. Jobi Zink and I recently had the great pleasure of meeting with Eben Dennis (job title) who showed us many of the artifacts we are hoping to display in the exhibit.

Travel Firman, courtesy of Maryland Historical Society.

Travel Firman, courtesy of Maryland Historical Society.

After spending so much time looking at reproductions of such objects as the firman that Mendes received from the Ottoman Empire which granted him the right to officially visit Palestine as a tourist (becoming the first American to receive such an honor), I was blown away by seeing the actual piece of paper with its Arabic script. The size of the document is hard to conceive especially when thinking about the pocket sized nature of today’s travel documents. Mendes wrote about his pride in receiving this document and in a letter published by a Baltimore paper in 1831, he wrote, ““I have just received my Firman . It is very full and explicit, to give me aid, supply my wants, &c, through my travels. It is written . . . on a sheet of paper about two feet and a half square [original italics] the size of the paper constituting, in some measure, its importance. . . . When it is presented to a Turk, he respects it by bowing, putting forward his head, and kissing the Sultan’s signature at the top of the paper. This necessary document I have received very promptly from Constantinople, an evidence of the dispatch given to our affairs there by our new Charge. It is, I believe, the first American Firman which has been issued, our countrymen heretofore having been obliged to procure them through the English Ambassador.”

Although The A-mazing Mendes Cohen does not open at the JMM until September 14, 2014, for those who cannot wait until then to learn more about this fascinating individual be sure to check out MdHS’s current exhibit In Full Glory Reflected: Maryland During the War of 1812.The exhibit includes such wonderful artifacts as the epaulets and hat that Mendes took to wearing many years after his participation in the War of 1812.

epaulettes

Mendes’ epaulets

Mendes' hat

Mendes’ hat

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah, click here. To read more posts about Mendes Cohen, click here.

 

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Get Your Stamps!

Posted on July 15th, 2013 by

 Baltimore National Heritage Area War of 1812 Bicentennial Passport Kick-off!

 Did you know the Jewish Museum of Maryland wants to stamp your passport? Your 1812 Bicentennial Passport that is! Come on by, see the exhibits and get a very special stamp created just for this fun (and educational) program happening all over the city. Check out the press release below for more details!

1812 Passport

 

1812 Bicentennial Passport and Commemorative Coin Program

June 18, 2013 (Baltimore, Md.) —The Baltimore National Heritage Area officially launched its 1812 Bicentennial Passport and Commemorative Coin Program at the Maryland Historical Society with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and fifth-grade students from the Patterson Park Public Charter School.

The Passport and Coin Program invites visitors and residents to explore all of the 1812 sites, attractions, programs, and events as Baltimore and the state of Maryland commemorate the War of 1812 Bicentennial. Participation in the program is free.

“We are very pleased to offer this program in partnership with our heritage sites and attractions to students and the general public,” said Jeffrey Buchheit, executive director of the Baltimore National Heritage Area. “It benefits everyone. It’s an exciting way for residents and visitors to explore our city’s history and it helps drive visitation to our city’s historic sites.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake presented fifth-grade students from Patterson Park Public Charter School with commemorative coins at the kick-off event. The students successfully completed a year-long course of study on the history surrounding the War of 1812, visiting sites and attractions during their journey. The Mayor also thanked the program’s funder, The Dorothy L. and Henry A. Rosenberg, Jr. Foundation, by presenting Mr. Henry A. Rosenberg, Jr. with an honorary commemorative coin.

To receive a commemorative coin, participants must acquire 10 unique stamps in their passport from participating sites and participating events.  A full list of sites and programs can be found at www.facebook.com/1812passport. Of the 10 stamps, four are mandatory in order to receive a commemorative coin: Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, Maryland Historical Society, and the Inner Harbor Visitor Center. Participants can then choose from a list of other sites and programs in order to complete their passport. Instructions for receiving a commemorative coin can be found at www.facebook.com/1812passport and www.nps.gov/balt.

The mission of the Baltimore National Heritage Area is to promote, preserve, and enhance Baltimore’s historic and cultural legacy and natural resources for current and future generations.  For more information regarding the 1812 Bicentennial Passport program, visit www.facebook.com/1812passport.  Visit www.nps.gov/balt for more information about the Baltimore National Heritage Area. 

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