Posted on December 17th, 2014 by Rachel
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.
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.
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.
Want to learn more? Check out this article on protecting paper on exhibit, from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts from Joanna click HERE.
Posted on October 30th, 2014 by Rachel
We’ve collected the questions our visitors have submitted to the question box at the end of The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit. We hope these answers satisfy your curiosity!
1) Mendes’ father was born in Germany, yet his family founded a Sephardic congregation in Baltimore. Was Mendes’ mother Sephardic? Is that the explanation, or is there another reason?
This is a question that stumped the exhibit team for quite a bit of time. We had always been under the assumption that both of Mendes’ parents were Ashkenazi. However, when it was brought to our attention that his mother was from Bristol, England, we conducted some research and learned that there was a substantial Sephardi community there. While we aren’t 100% sure, it is likely that his mother was Sephardi which would have provided motivation for the family’s involvement in the congregation.
2) What was his Hebrew name?
The seal of Mendes Cohen, 1980.3.1
We learned that Mendes’ Hebrew name was Menachem bar Asher Avraham ha Cohain by translating the Hebrew inscription on his seal.
3) Did Mendes Cohen know Uriah P. Levy?
Not as far as we know. But you can learn more about this Civil War figure by checking out his wikipedia page!
Uriah Phillips Levy
4) Did he like Europe or Asia better?
You can take a hands-on approach to mapping Mendes’ journeys in the exhibit!
I’m not sure he ever answers this directly, but Mendes definitely took pride in the fact that he was one of the few American tourists to travel in parts of Asia (as opposed to Europe which was a more common tourist destination) and relished the adventures that he had in Egypt and Palestine.
5) Why does Mendes wear a turban in his portrait?
The original painting, located at the Maryland Historical Society.
One of the most exciting things about this portrait is that the JMM actually owns the jacket he is wearing, and it is displayed in the exhibit in the section that explores his journeys to Egypt and Palestine. We believe that Mendes most likely purchased the jacket while traveling in Turkey. It is certainly not something that someone would wear every day but instead would have been worn for special ceremonial purposes. Turbans, such as the one Mendes is also wearing in the portrait, were customarily worn by men in the Middle East. We can learn a lot by a portrait sitter by the clothing that he or she chooses to wear. By wearing the jacket and turban in this portrait, Mendes wants to be seen as an adventurer and a world traveler.
What questions were still burning in your mind when you got to the end of the maze?
Let us know!
Posted on October 3rd, 2014 by Rachel
“Don’t be frightened!” cried Tevye as he started to explain his nightmare of Fruma Sarah.
JMM is feeling ever so slightly ghoulish these days as we invite back Dr. Arnold Blumberg to speak about zombies and prepare for the return of the ghost of Mendes Cohen in early November. Maybe it’s the “haunting” music in The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit or the creaking of the pirate ships on the Oct. 19 Chesapeake program.
But I can assure you that these are all friendly ghosts, so don’t resist. Come join us at an upcoming event. Also be sure to check out our NEW tour hours below and note our November opening of yet another specialty tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue – this one looking at the building from the vantage point of 1845.
Get into the spirit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland this October.
Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Trillion Attwood: (410) 732-6400 x215 / email@example.com. For more information on JMM events please visit www.jewishmuseummd.org.
A Star-Spangled Banner New Year: Author Tova S. Yavin
Sunday, October 12, 1:00pm
Program Free with Museum Admission
Explore the Jewish experience at Fort McHenry with children’s author Tova S. Yavin. Yavin, received the 2008 Notable Book Award for her novel All Star Season, has been developing an article for Highlights Magazine for Children on the Jewish experience of the War of 1812. Learn how the events inspired Francis Scott Key and what his famous poem meant to America’s Jewish community.
All-Star Season will be available for purchase in the JMM Museum Shop during the program.
In Full Glory Reflected: Author Dr. Ralph Eshelman
Sunday, October 19, 1:00pm
Program Free with Museum Admission
In Full Glory Reflected, co-authored by Dr. Ralph Eshelman and Burt Kummerow, will be available for purchase in the JMM Museum Shop.
Dr. Ralph Elsheman, co-author of In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake, will be standing in for his writing partner Burt Kummerow. Eshleman, a historian who helped develop the “Star Spangled Banner Historic Trail” will share gripping tales of devastating raids, heroic defenders, gallant privateers, fugitive slaves and threatened lands from his treasure chest of Chesapeake tails.
Free Fall Baltimore
The Golem: A Horrific Hero with Feet of Clay: Speaker Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg
Sunday, October 26, 1:00pm
Where are the Jewish zombies? For this year’s Free Fall Baltimore program at the JMM, we welcome back Dr. Blumberg as he reveals the background of the mythical Golem and its place in contemporary pop culture.
Arnold T. Blumberg teaches courses in zombies in popular media (Univ. of Baltimore) and comic book literature (UMBC).
Mendes’ Baltimore: The Industries that Built a City
Sunday, November 9th, 1pm
Speaker Jack Burkert
Jack Burkert, a museum educator at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, will discuss the industries and technology that played a vital role in the growth and development of Baltimore during Mendes Cohen’s lifetime. Plus after join us for our newest synagogue tour Technology in the Temple.
Jack joined the Baltimore Museum of Industry as a Museum Educator in 2010. Through this employment, he offers educational programs and information to both adults and young people. Jack has made a specialty of adding content and background to his work through research into the history of Baltimore, its port, businesses, people and immigration. A 1969 graduate of the University of Maryland, Jack graduated with honors with a degree in history and education. His working life, some 40+ years, was spent in various educator roles, beginning in the Baltimore City School system, then as a staff member at the Pennsylvania State University, through private employers and then until his retirement a few years ago, in his own consulting firm.
Mendes Cohen Living History Performance
Sunday, November 16, 1:00pm
Program Free with Museum Admission
The Ghost of Mendes Cohen
See history come alive with this performance of our newest Living History character and subject of our recently opened exhibit, performed by actor Grant Cloyd. Learn more about this fascinating character as he recounts some of his most captivating anecdotes, including his experience as a defender at Fort McHenry and his time spent traveling throughout Europe and the Middle East. This will be the first full performance of “the ghost of Mendes Cohen” at the JMM.
The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit bnaiisraelcongregation.org. For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on facebook.
Exhibits currently on display include The A-mazing Mendes Cohen (on display through June 14, 2015), Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, and The Synagogue Speaks!
NEW – Hours and Tour Times
The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm.
Starting October 5 we will offer combination tours of the 1845 Lloyd Street Synagogue and the 1876 Synagogue Building now home to B’nai Israel, Sunday through Thursday at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm. We will offer tours focused on the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Sunday through Thursday at 3:00pm and on Sunday at 4:00pm. On November 9 we will introduce a new Lloyd Street “1845: Technology and the Temple” tour at 3:00pm and the tour will be available every Sunday and Monday at 3 until The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen closes next June.
Please note we are closed for the Jewish festivals on October 9, 10, 16 and 17.
The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.
All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street.
Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchased online! http://jewishmuseummd.org/get-involved/museum-membership/ For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or email@example.com.
Get mugged….get lost…..get burned!..…
Baltimore is buzzing for our A-Mazing Mendes MUG! (and dishwasher safe!)
Lost in the Maze, but you can be found in the JMM Museum Shop!
Only Candles burn and oh so brightly on our Fire Engine Menorah!
To round out our fantastic and A-Mazing shop, look at this gorgeous dish!
Merchandise purchased in the Museum Shop directly benefits the Jewish Museum of Maryland.
Members receive a 10% discount on JMM Shop purchases.
For information, call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.