Posted on June 2nd, 2014 by Rachel
Just when I think I’ve finally left Jewish food behind (reading about it, that is; I’m still eating Jewish with enormous enjoyment!) comes a wonderful article by Julia Moskin for The New York Times (you can read it here). Artisinal gefilte fish! Wood-fired bagels! Whitefish chowder! It’s fusion, it’s sustainable, it’s simultaneously creative and nostalgic.
Jeff Yoskowitz—one of our friends from Gefilteria, who came down to Baltimore a couple years ago for our GefilteFest—has my favorite quote in the article: “Kosher food didn’t reflect our generation or our tastes, and modern food didn’t reflect our history.” Recognize who we are, but what’s wrong with changing it up a little bit, right? The only thing this baby-boomer curator takes issue with is that these new recipes are for the young. They sure sound delicious to me!
A blog post by Curator Karen Falk. To read more posts from Karen, click here.
Posted on July 12th, 2013 by Rachel
I’ve asked Abby Krolik, our Visitor Services Manager and the newest member of the JMM team, to share with you some interesting data and statistics we’ve been looking at here at the Museum. I hope you’ll find it as fascinating as we do!
As an art history major in college, I never thought I’d have a job in which I had to play around with numbers, but it’s been surprisingly exciting to gather the numbers for our various visitor statistics each month and to see how they grow into meaningful patterns and comparisons. If there was any doubt that expanding our public hours from a mere 16 hours a week to 35 hours a week would bring in more visitors, that doubt can be safely expelled at this point. Between January 2012 and June 2012, we had 759 “walk-in” (unscheduled) visitors and a total of 4,694 guests as our “on-site attendance”—which includes walk-in attendance as well as school and adult groups, programs, etc. Between January 2013 and June 2013, we had 1,848 visitors as general attendance and 6,775 as on-site attendance. That’s a 143% increase in general attendance and a 44% increase in on-site attendance!
As heartening as those numbers are, the statistics that I personally find more interesting come from the categories of information that we hadn’t previously collected. Starting in January, we’ve been noting what time of day visitors arrive and how they heard about the museum. More than any other category of information, tracking what time of day visitors arrive has given us a picture of how our change in hours has brought in more visitors. Before October 21st of last year, the museum was open from noon to 4pm Sundays and Tuesdays-Thursdays. Now, we are open from 10am to 5pm, Sundays-Thursdays. Although the peak hours are generally between 1pm and 2pm, we still get a significant number of visitors between 10am and 12pm, and even a few visitors between 4pm and 5pm.
The second category of new information is how our visitors heard about the JMM. When visitors arrive and pay for their admission at the front desk, I or a volunteer will ask “how did you hear about us?” The first response is often very vague or even a non sequitur (e.g. “the internet” or “I’m visiting from out of town”), so we do our best to politely encourage our guests to be more specific. Every three months, I make a Top Ten list of the reasons our visitors came to the JMM. The first quarter of this year, (January through March) the Top Ten list included The Jewish Times, Google, and Groupon. The most recent quarter (April through June), the list included the wonderful article about us that appeared in The New York Times on April 5th, the “Things to do in Baltimore” website, and people who had visited us before and were returning either to show the museum to out-of-town visitors or because they wanted to see the new exhibit, Zap! Pow! Bam!
Even the persistently vague answers, like “not sure” and “always knew about the museum” can be useful, or at least thought-provoking. If someone has always known about us, but never visited until now, then what has changed, or what are we doing differently, that we finally brought these absent fans to our doors? Perhaps the difference is the kind of marketing we’ve been doing lately, or perhaps these new guests finally came because, while they didn’t think they were interested in Maryland Jewish history, they knew for sure that they were interested in comic books. Or they simply wanted to know why there was a comic book exhibit at a Jewish museum. Once they are lured to the museum by their curiosity about the superhero exhibit, our previously absentee visitors almost always discover that they are, in fact, interested in what the rest of the museum has to offer. Hopefully, the next time they come to visit, their answer to “how did you hear about us” will be “I learned so much the last time I was here, I decided to become a member!”
I hope you’ve enjoyed this dip into the numbers pool – we’ve been doing a lot to try and get the word out about JMM and everything it has to offer, but our best resource has always been you, our readers and friends. I hope you’ll share this newsletter with friends, follow us on twitter and like us on facebook – help us get the word out even farther!
Posted on December 10th, 2012 by Rachel
A blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik.
It’s that magical time of the year…when everything smells like oil and onions. That’s right, it’s Chanukah time! This is my first year after graduating from college, which means that it’s the first time that Chanukah has not been overshadowed by exams and term papers—a fact for which I am very grateful. No more squeezing in a Hillel candlelighting and Rugrats Maccabee episode study break between marathon paper-writing sessions. Instead, I’ve got a whole week of holiday parties to look forward to (and probably a few Christmas-centric parties to follow afterward).
Of course, the grand holiday season kickoff event was Esther Fest, last Thursday—never mind the mayor’s monument lighting ceremony, which was missing the key ingredient to holiday fun: Esther and fried foods. In fact, the museum (and my clothes) still smelled faintly of oil, onions, and good times when I came in on Sunday morning!
The holiday cheer continued for me last night (even though I wasn’t at Diner and Donuts) at my parents’ Chanukah party, where my mother managed, yet again, to invite a seder-level number of people to the house and still make too much food! As my dad likes to say, “she’s got a bit of the Catskills in her.” My brother and I are always pleased when this happens because it means we can each take home left-overs to our respective houses (in other words, the young adult version of our sibling rivalry takes the form of “tupperware wars”). Our roommates have come to love the Krolik Family Supermarket.
But back to Chanukah. And parties. Later this week, my roommate and I will continue the festivities with a small gathering of our own in which we will teach our goyish friends to play dreidel. However, we will probably not teach them the meaning of Chanukah. They will probably go home still thinking that Chanukah is the Jewish Christmas.
Which brings me to an interesting op-ed I read in the New York Times this week, entitled “The True Meaning of Hanukkah.” The author, Hilary Krieger, delivers a kind of short d’var torah on what Chanukah (in its many spellings) really celebrates. Is the holiday all about the miracle of the oil? Or is it simply a celebration of a military victory? Krieger’s conclusion is very interesting. She says that by having observing a holiday that celebrates both a bloody war and a spiritual miracle, we are invited to reflect on the presence of light and dark in the world. Krieger also reminds us that these conflicting messages are a common motif in Judaism. At Passover, we celebrate our independence from slavery while also spilling out some of our wine to acknowledge the suffering endured by the Egyptians, and on Yom Kippur, we reflect on the confusing story of the Sacrifice of Isaac. So, while Chanukah does not have the theological significance for Judaism that Christmas has for Christianity, it is an opportunity to remember and practice the ancient Jewish tradition of self-reflection and questioning.
Apparently, you can take the student from compulsory essays, but you can’t take the compulsion to write essays from the (former) student.