Performance Counts, September 2014

Posted on September 19th, 2014 by

Baltimore Embraces its 19th Century Heritage

The good news is “we won.”

You probably noticed that there was some commotion this weekend about events that took place two centuries ago.  Beyond the Blue Angels, the rockets red glare and the Spanish galleon, there was a genuine embrace of the relatively tiny group of defenders who made sure that the flag and the nation was still there.

We are intensely proud of having been a part of the Star Spangled Celebration week, a chance for us to remind the public of the long roots of the Jewish community in this city and this state.  Of course, JMM’s focus was on one particular defender: the truly amazing Mendes Cohen.

Collections Manager Joanna Church and Assistant Director Deborah Cardin install Mendes' newly conserved jacket.

Collections Manager Joanna Church and Assistant Director Deborah Cardin install Mendes’ newly conserved jacket.

Installation of the maze was completed on September 7th.  We had a sneak preview for donors, members of the 1845 Society and the Lloyd Street League, and members of the board of our partners, the Maryland Historical Society on September 9th.  Feedback was extremely positive as reflected in notes we received after the event:

We were totally impressed with the A-mazing Mendes exhibition and appreciated the amount of research, talent, and work that went into the project.

Your exhibit is absolutely wonderful and a great tribute to Mr. Cohen. Of course Mendes is good story material. What a fun concept and I am recommending you to my whole staff.

‘The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen’ exhibit turned out really great! Fantastic Preview last night! Can’t wait to return and stroll “The A-Mazing… “ more slowly and a chance to absorb much more of its rich history.

Enjoying a few drinks at the Amazing Cocktail Hour sneak preview party.

Enjoying a few drinks at the Amazing Cocktail Hour sneak preview party.

This past Sunday was a very busy day for our living history actor.  Unlike the real Mendes Cohen who overslept on September 14 and had to run to his assignment at the fort, our “ghost” of Mendes started his day bright and early at Super Sunday.  As Mendes was one of the early members of the Hebrew Benevolent Society (a precursor of The Associated), we thought it was important Mendes participate in this annual effort to raise funds to serve the Jewish community in Baltimore and around the globe.

Mendes takes a few calls at Super Sunday!

Mendes takes a few calls at Super Sunday!

The next stop was the Creative Alliance’s “Hampstead Hill Festival”, marking the land battle that helped save the city.  Mendes not only gave a full performance (battling unexpectedly fierce winds) but also participated in an 1814 fashion show.  After Hampstead Hill, we made a brief stop at the Inner Harbor greeting guests to the Greater Baltimore History Alliance booth.

Mendes takes his bow to the applause of former JMM president Barbara Katz and the rest of the audience.

Mendes takes his bow to the applause of former JMM president Barbara Katz and the rest of the audience.

Mendes returned to JMM for a wonderful members’ opening.  The program included greetings from Debs Weinberg and Barbara Katz, Mendes’ short-version 1812 performance and a panel comprised of some of the creative and historical experts who made the exhibit and living history character a reality.

Part of the evening's panel.

Part of the evening’s panel.

If you missed this great opening week, you can still be a full participant in the Mendes Cohen celebration.  We are still busy recruiting volunteers for our stint as part of the Maryland Public Television fund drive on Sunday, September 28 from 5pm to 8pm.  Your willingness to volunteer a few hours at MPT will guarantee us on air access to an important audience.  For more details contact Rachel Kassman at rkassman@jewishmuseummd.org or call 410-732-6402 x225. 

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The Making of An Exhibit – Mendes Arrives!

Posted on September 17th, 2014 by

After many months of hard work developing The A-mazing Mendes Cohen exhibition, JMM staff members were eagerly awaiting its arrival by truck on September 3 from Seattle. What many people might not realize is that exhibits do not arrive fully constructed and that the task of assembling and installing the exhibition structure, text panels and artifacts is complex necessitating the work of a team of individuals. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at the Making of The A-mazing Mendes Cohen.

Day One

The first moving truck arrived at 9am. Luckily our forklift and driver arrived just in time to help take the crates off the truck.

The first moving truck arrived at 9am. Luckily our forklift and driver arrived just in time to help take the crates off the truck.

Exhibition designer and maze builder extraordinaire, Kelly Fernandi of Minotaur Mazes enjoys his ride on the forklift making sure that the crate stays in place.

Exhibition designer and maze builder extraordinaire, Kelly Fernandi of Minotaur Mazes enjoys his ride on the forklift making sure that the crate stays in place.

Our orientation space which serves so many purposes became our temporary storage space for the crates.

Our orientation space which serves so many purposes became our temporary storage space for the crates.

Because we are recycling a maze structure from another exhibition (Chimp Adventure that was recently on display at the Kansas City Zoo) not all the parts in the crate are being used for The A-mazing Mendes Cohen. Here, Susan Press, Joanna Church and Darrell Monteagudo unpack and sort crate contents.

Because we are recycling a maze structure from another exhibition (Chimp Adventure that was recently on display at the Kansas City Zoo) not all the parts in the crate are being used for The A-mazing Mendes Cohen. Here, Susan Press, Joanna Church and Darrell Monteagudo unpack and sort crate contents.

Once the parts are unpacked, we begin installation. First task, arrange metal pipes in appropriate spot on the floor around the gallery using this floor plan as our guide.

Once the parts are unpacked, we begin installation. First task, arrange metal pipes in appropriate spot on the floor around the gallery using this floor plan as our guide.

 Where the heck do they all go? (Fortunately, Kelly was checking all my work and rearranging as necessary!)

Where the heck do they all go? (Fortunately, Kelly was checking all my work and rearranging as necessary!)

Once all the floor pipes are arranged, we then got to work attaching them to one another. Everyone got very good at using a hex wrench to tighten connections, a very important step!

Once all the floor pipes are arranged, we then got to work attaching them to one another. Everyone got very good at using a hex wrench to tighten connections, a very important step!

The outline of the maze becomes apparent as the floor pipes are connected.

The outline of the maze becomes apparent as the floor pipes are connected.

After all the floor pipes were in place we then began attaching vertical poles. You can see Susan Press in the corner making sure all our connections are very tight. This was a great job for Susan!

After all the floor pipes were in place we then began attaching vertical poles. You can see Susan Press in the corner making sure all our connections are very tight. This was a great job for Susan!

After a few unsuccessful attempts at getting the ceiling pipes in place, we decided to call it a day.

Day Two

Despite feeling sore in body parts we didn’t even know existed, installing the roof pipes went much smoother the second day. Do you see the maze starting to come together?

Despite feeling sore in body parts we didn’t even know existed, installing the roof pipes went much smoother the second day. Do you see the maze starting to come together?

Once we have the metal frame structure in place, it’s time to begin work on the maze panels. Here they are laid out on the lobby floor.

Once we have the metal frame structure in place, it’s time to begin work on the maze panels. Here they are laid out on the lobby floor.

Kelly provides a tutorial in hanging panels. Sadly, he will have to repeat this lesson several times before it really sinks in.

Kelly provides a tutorial in hanging panels. Sadly, he will have to repeat this lesson several times before it really sinks in.

Ilene Dackman-Alon and I start to get the hang of it (pun intended!)

Ilene Dackman-Alon and I start to get the hang of it (pun intended!)

Panel successfully hung!

Panel successfully hung!

Program manager, Trillion Attwood, became an expert wielding cable ties. Who knew they made such wonderful hair accessories!

Program manager, Trillion Attwood, became an expert wielding cable ties. Who knew they made such wonderful hair accessories!

Once the panels are hung, we go back through to make sure that all the screws are tight.

Once the panels are hung, we go back through to make sure that all the screws are tight.

Another long day but the end is almost in site!

Day Three

The third day was largely devoted to installing artifacts in cases.

Textile conservator, Michele Pagan, arrived with the flag that Mendes made to hoist up the sail as he traveled on the Nile. Michele has been working for several weeks to fill in the color of the red stripes that have faded and to repair the paper stars that have disintegrated. Here she is gently cleaning the flag before its installation in a special case designed and fabricated by Mark Ward.

Textile conservator Michele Pagan arrived with the flag that Mendes made to hoist up the sail as he traveled on the Nile. Michele has been working for several weeks to fill in the color of the red stripes that have faded and to repair the paper stars that have disintegrated. Here she is gently cleaning the flag before its installation in a special case designed and fabricated by Mark Ward.

Sanchita Balachandran, registrar at Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, arrives with a sampling of the Egyptian artifacts that Mendes collected while in Egypt. She and Joanna worked to unpack and install the objects in their case.

Sanchita Balachandran, registrar at Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, arrives with a sampling of the Egyptian artifacts that Mendes collected while in Egypt. She and Joanna worked to unpack and install the objects in their case.

Next up, the fabulous red jacket that Mendes purchased during his travels. Michele Pagan did some conservation work on the jacket as well. To the best of my knowledge, this exhibit will be the first time that the JMM has displayed many of the wonderful treasures in our collection belonging to Mendes.

Next up, the fabulous red jacket that Mendes purchased during his travels. Michele Pagan did some conservation work on the jacket as well. To the best of my knowledge, this exhibit will be the first time that the JMM has displayed many of the wonderful treasures in our collection belonging to Mendes.

We left most of the heavy duty installation jobs to Kelly. Here he is installing one of the exhibit’s many interactive, a map where visitors can take a stab at tracing Mendes’ journey.

We left most of the heavy duty installation jobs to Kelly. Here he is installing one of the exhibit’s many interactive, a map where visitors can take a stab at tracing Mendes’ journey.

Day Four

Feeling much more rested after taking a day off, we spent Sunday working on final details.

Our fantastic lighting designer, Rich Pullman, did a heroic job navigating the maze frame to install our new LED lights. Once the lights were in place the exhibition finally came to life.

Our fantastic lighting designer, Rich Pullman, did a heroic job navigating the maze frame to install our new LED lights. Once the lights were in place the exhibition finally came to life.

Kelly spent much of the day working on exhibit interactive and straightening maze walls and panels.

Kelly spent much of the day working on exhibit interactive and straightening maze walls and panels.

One final touch, vacuuming!

One final touch, vacuuming!

Now that you know about all the fun we had putting it up, we hope you will join us to see how it all turned out. The A-mazing Mendes Cohen opened on Sunday, September 14 amidst Baltimore’s Star Spangled Spectacular. And while the fireworks may be over, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen and all his adventures are ready for you – look forward to seeing you here!

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts by Deborah, click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Mendes Cohen and the Battle of North Point

Posted on September 11th, 2014 by

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The City of Baltimore is abuzz this week gearing up for the 200th anniversary celebration of the historic Battle of Baltimore in 1814, the scene where Francis Scott Key got his inspiration for the words of our nation’s anthem, the Star Spangled Banner.   We have been gearing up for our own celebration of the Jewish presence during that battle and the opening of the A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit.  This past weekend, our own amazing living history character, the “ghost” of Mendes Cohen had his first performance at The Defender’s Day Celebration at North Point located at Fort Howard Park.

The beautiful view at Fort Howard Park!

The beautiful view at Fort Howard Park!

Mendes Cohen takes the stage!

Mendes Cohen takes the stage.

North Point is situated at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay just east of the Patapsco River leading to Fort McHenry.  The Battle of North Point occurred a few days prior to the strike on Fort McHenry on September 14, 1814.  On September 12, 1814 over 4,000 British troops landed at North Point, Maryland. The plan devised by the British was to march towards the City of Baltimore and to capture the port city.  The British had already captured and devastatingly burned the nation’s capital, Washington D. C. in late August.  The British were hoping to repeat their success with a similar attack on Baltimore.

The audience is enraptured!

The audience is enraptured!

Under the command of Major General Robert Ross, troops and supplies were unloaded upon the Maryland shore at North Point. A rather small force of just over 250 Maryland volunteers, led by Brig. Gen. John Stricker, commander of the 3d Brigade of the Maryland militia met the marching British troops at North Point in an attempt to delay the British advance towards Baltimore. Ultimately, the British failed in capturing Baltimore.  The land attack failed and  Fort McHenry withstood the heavy British bombardment by sea.  Francis Scott Key watched the proceedings at the fort and wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner, which eventually became the U.S. National Anthem.

Re-enactors walk along the water's edge.

Children in period wear walk along the water’s edge.

The Defenders Day celebration was complete with re-enactors both from the British company- The Wellington Fencibles led by Major General Robert Ross and the Maryland militia led by General John Stricker.   Re-enactors helped stage the actual battle that occurred at North Point, but also highlighted how people lived during the early 19th century.  Women and children were present in period clothes, showing teaching visitors about daily life during the time.

Mendes introduces himself.

Mendes introduces himself.

The highlight of the morning was our own “ghost” of Mendes Cohen, taking stage and sharing with the audience his recollections of the Battle of Baltimore in 1814.  This was the first performance “on the road” for professional actor, Grant Cloyd, and he did an amazing job!

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More pint-size re-enactors!

Be sure to check out the Amazing Mendes Cohen exhibition that opens this weekend at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Check the website often www.jewishmuseummd.org to learn about all of the amazing programming and the upcoming performances of the living history character, the “ghost” of Mendes Cohen that will take place in connection with the exhibit.

Don't miss the opening, THIS SUNDAY, September 13th, 10am - 5pm!

Don’t miss the opening, THIS SUNDAY, September 13th, 10am – 5pm!

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




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