Highlights from the Detroit Arts Scene: Part I

Posted on March 2nd, 2012 by

A blog post by Senior Collections Manager, Jobi Zink


This week I went to Detroit, Michigan for the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) conference.  I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to go. After all it was Detroit in February. I was expecting 3 feet of snow on the ground, whipping wind, gangs, abandoned houses, and open drug trade.

Axel Foley (character in Beverly Hills Cop), Rapper Eminem and the movie 8 Mile did not leave an overwhelmingly positive impression of Detroit.

After 4 days of touring museumsin the city and suburbs, my opinions have greatly changed! Mother Nature cooperating with 40 degree days certainly helped, but the arts scene was truly impressive.

It isn’t a trip to Detroit without some Motown.

The Cranbrook Art Museum is on a 175-acre campus. The museum just underwent a $22 million dollar renovation—I couldn’t wait to check it out! http:///www.cranbrookart.edu/museum/

Eliel Saarinen designed the museum in 1942. The sculpture and ponds seem like a natural extension of the building.

Rachel, Elena &LeighAnn relax on a bench in front of a Sol LeWitt mural, part of No Object Is an Island: New Dialogues with the Cranbrook Collection.

The Henry Ford Museum was another enormous facility—the galleries alone are 3 acres, and then there is Greenfield Village and the factory. We only had one hour to tour the exhibitions before sessions began on Monday morning. http:///www.thehenryford.org/

The “exploded” Model T allows visitors to see how the car is assembled, even without visiting the factory.

While many visitors are awestruck by the John F. Kennedy Limousine, I was charmed by Teddy Roosevelt’s Presidential horse-drawn carriage.

It was very powerful to hear the recorded testimony of Rosa Parks about why she didn’t move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, AL in 1955 while I sat in the very seat in the second row that she refused to vacate.

The “With Liberty and Justice for All” exhibition had the chair in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC in April 1865.

Someone was working on one of the giant engines in the collection.

E.T. would have his choice of phones. While I didn’t see many cordless phones from the 1990s, the Iphone 4S is on display in the lower left corner.

Model kitchen from the 1930s made me think of the Chosen Food exhibition, as did the model kitchen at the Arab American National Museum.

The dome above a fountain in the lobby and mosaic in the hallway of the Arab American National Museum. http:///arabamericanmuseum.org/

No one from the CAJM contingency was surprised that there were suitcases at the beginning of the main exhibition, “Coming to America.”

The empty case was a powerful reflection of a refugees account, “we brought nothing with us.”

Docent Guy Stern, who just turned 90, gave us a personal tour complete with anecdotes of the “Ritchie Boys” exhibit that he curated at the Holocaust Memorial Center. www.holocaustcenter.org

Check back on Monday for Part II!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

A Visit to the Mount Clare Museum House!

Posted on December 29th, 2010 by

Last week the Collections staff of the JMM decided to go visit former volunteer Debbie Farthing at her new (old) home at the Mount Clare Museum House! The house was all decked out in its Christmas season finery and we had a great time getting a full tour (we even got to peek into the back offices and storage areas) and catching up with Debbie.

Jennifer takes the stairs like royalty.

Jobi is tickled pink by the awesome greeting card Debbie picked out for her.

Some beautiful stairway decorations.

Debbie tells us about some of the objects on display.

Margaret Carroll's fabulous dress.

I thought this painted table was pretty neat.

Especially because it pictures Mount Clare itself on it!

Jobi demonstrates for us in front of the "pouting room." Don't you wish you had one of those?

Pretty chair, right? Guess what! It's hiding a chamber pot underneath!

Me, Debbie and Jenn under a kissing ball.

Where curators belong...locked in a closet.

But alas, eventually our tour ended and it was time to go. Debbie went back to work, Jobi and Jennifer headed back to their vacations and me? I went home sick. But at least I got to see Mount Clare dressed up for the holidays! We can’t thank Debbie enough for taking the time out of her day to show us around and really make Mount Clare House and the Carrolls come alive!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

The Secret Lives of Interns: Week 5

Posted on July 8th, 2009 by

Week Five brought the introduction of Heather, our last (but certainly not least!) summer intern. Heather is working in the education department and helping out with exhibitions as well!

I assisted with inventory of the gift shop on Monday, led 2 groups of first and second graders through the Voices of Lombard St tour with Simone for SuperKids camp on Tuesday, and thoroughly enjoyed the Intern Field Trip on Wednesday. I also started reviewing info on the LSS to assist with planning interactives for the new exhibit and jotting down several ideas to bounce off of Jenn, Anita and Deb W. A great first week here – makes me excited for the next 9! – Heather

Whew! That’s a LOT of interns!

When noon rolled around Jobi Zink, official intern wrangler (and Senior Collections Manager) escorted the interns to Little Italy for lunch at one of the JMM’s favorite restaurants: Amicci’s!

Out to lunch!

After lunch all the interns headed up to the nearby Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. Interns started out in the gift shop before being escorted into the conservation lab.

Alison and Sean are especially excited by the fume tube.

Then they got a sneak peek into the Lewis’ storage rooms, checking out the automatic compact shelving (moves with just one touch of a button!), artwork cages and getting a chance to see a few objects up close and personal.

Checking out the art storage.


This French military uniform holds everyone’s attention.

After the back scenes tour the interns took a turn through the Lewis’ current exhibition East Side Stories and watched a video created by the History Channel, featured in the lobby of the museum.



Interns in the Lewis’s East Side Stories exhibition


The field trip concluded at the Star Spangled Banner Flag House, right next door to the Lewis. The interns were introduced to the variety of American flags on display, cataloging the 28 changes the flag has gone through. They learned all about the history of the Flag House, the Star Spangled Banner and our National Anthem. Apparently the Children’s Activity Room was a big hit!

The interns (and Jobi!) try on a few 19th century looks.

The intern field trip this week made me realize how much better the JMM is than other institutions but also opened my eyes to what could be expanded here. When we went to the Flag house museum they very impersonal, they just plopped us down in front of a video and allowed us to wander through the museum after that. I’d much preferred a guide, even in a place as small as that, just in case I’d have questions. The building also was not very secure, granted there were signs saying “do not enter” but it was unlocked and easily accessible to whomever wanted to go in. On the brighter side, in comparison, the JMM has a solid secure building and the volunteers and staff are very personable, so it made me appreciate where I work a lot more. But, I also noticed what changes could be made here at the JMM after seeing the Lewis Museum facility. They had a conservation lab, all to itself, and that was really exciting to see, granted with the right funding that’d be a possibility but it’s something we don’t have here. Also noticed how secure their building was with monitors in each room on the ceilings as well as card access to doors in collections storage and back rooms. Every artifact had enough space to breathe and some. It was very detailed. The JMM is very precise as well, we just don’t have the space and some artifacts don’t get much wiggle room, which is probably another case of money. But over all it was a good learning experience and I enjoyed the content of the trip. – Sean


From a New York perspective, it felt great to be able to walk to these museums in one day. As we all know, Baltimore is not exactly walking friendly. The museums were small; however they had just enough to grasp their essence. These museums are all really there to recognize and appreciate what past and present citizens of Maryland have contributed to their communities. Kudos to all museum staff, and anyone who has contributed to a museum in Maryland.They have worked hard to recognize individuals who would have been forgotten and erased from history. – Giselle

It’s a right gaggle of interns!

Seeing all the good stuff in the basement of the JMM including the permanent wave machine (that must be what you guys use on your “problem interns”), lunch at Amicci’s, information overload at the Lewis, and revisiting my inner child while coloring at the Flag House Museum were among the highlights [of my first week]. – Heather

But it’s not all fun, games and field trips!



Last week, I spent a lot of time making outreach calls to local Jewish organizations. Realizing that the information provided was outdated and incomplete, I began compiling a recent comprehensive list of Jewish organizations and their important contacts including addresses, phone numbers and e-mails. I also finalized logo and food information regarding the companies which are to provide for the “Brews and Schmooze” event. – Rebecca

Last week was again filled with a hodgepodge of activities and tasks. I am STILL working on transcribing Seymour Attman’s oral history. It’s taking a long time partly because I only work on it in between other tasks, and partly because transcribing is just a lot harder than I thought it would be! Though now I have Shelby, the other curatorial intern, to commiserate with, so that’s nice. When we weren’t wearing out the stop and rewind buttons on the cassette players, Shelby and I researched the history of food packaging so we could find props for a section of the Chosen Food exhibit. I can now tell someone the history of the tin can! Unfortunately, we also found that there just isn’t a whole lot of difference between food packaging in, say, the 1830’s in the U.S. and in 1870’s in Russia, so I’m not sure just how useful our research will be in the long run. At the very least, I’ve been beefing up my store of random trivia! – Abby

Crazily enough, for many of our interns this week marked the halfway point! A few of them took the time to reflect on the weeks passed:

My past couple of weeks at the JMM have been extremely interesting and eye opening. The staff has been wonderful in training us in the proper techniques and usage of different materials. Every week is new and exciting. This particular week we have been working over at the BHU sifting through old archives and really getting a taste for what museum collections is about. I have learned a great deal about museum management and the level of time and effort it takes to store, and inventory a collection. There is so much work that goes into one exhibit, and I have gained a new admiration and respect for the time, energy, artistry, and thought it takes when one views an exhibit. History is such an important part of who everyone is, it helps individuals learn, grow, and evolve into better human beings, which is why Museums are such a necessary part of society. Every time I find a new or interesting article, picture, or object while doing inventory it always makes me think. The JMM has opened my eyes to so many things. I hold a lot of admiration for each individual staff member and thank them for keeping things fun and lively. They have each taught me something different, and I know I will be able to take something great away from the JMM. – Berkley

It seems crazy to be half way finished with the internship. It’s funny how quickly you become comfortable in a new environment – I feel like it’s been longer than a few weeks. In these first five weeks, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the JMM and about the variety of tasks that go on during the day. So far, I’ve gotten the chance to do inventory, begin processing a collection and work on its finding aid, learn the ins and outs of the wonderful program that is PastPerfect and take some very fun field trips – my favorite probably being to the Lewis and seeing their awesome conservation lab and collections storage. – Alison

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

« Previous Page