Postcards for Paige: Fall 2018

Posted on September 21st, 2018 by

Welcome to the third edition of our quarterly feature, “Postcards for Paige,” giving us a chance to answer commonly asked questions about how to make the most out of your visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

(All the answers are real, the postcards are dubious… but these days, who knows?)


Calling all shutterbugs!

Heya Paige,

My relatives are coming to visit from California and I have been researching things to do around Baltimore with them. I saw an advertisement for Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini in a magazine and think it’s a perfect fit for the whole family. My nieces are always on their phones and taking photos to share with their friends. So, my big question is … can we take photos in the exhibit?

~Hopeful Host

Hi Hopeful,

I encourage you and your family to take photos while you explore Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini! Just one small rule, please make sure your camera/phone has the flash turned off. However, like most rules, this rule comes with one exception. Nearing the end of the exhibit, in Houdini’s Final Act, you have the opportunity to take a Spirit Photo. Before you stand on the feet and get in selfie-taking position, you will need to make sure your flash is on. Remember once you have seen the spirit appear, turn the flash off again to keep snapping those photos.

Don’t forget to share photos with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #MagicAtJMM or #Inescapable. I can’t wait to see what you discover in the exhibit. Make sure to visit before the exhibit disappears on January 21, 2019.  

~Paige


Listen to your mother: put on a sweater!

Paige,

I consider myself to be a museum frequent-flyer. I love my Lombard Street Club membership at the JMM because it provides reciprocal entry to several other Jewish and local Baltimore museums. I dropped by the JMM recently and was glad that I wore my cardigan because it was cool inside the exhibits. I’ve noticed this at other museums as well.  Can you help me solve the mystery of why museums are often so frigid?

~Frosty Fayvel 

Hi Fayvel,

I am happy to shed some light on this mystery for you. The collections at the JMM are incredibly diverse. These objects are composed of many different materials, including: leather, metal, wood, stone, and paper. In fact, most objects are composed of multiple materials. These materials age and deteriorate at different rates. The JMM works to prevent the deterioration of the objects in our care. One way of doing this is through the control of the environment in which our objects are stored and exhibited. There are a variety of environmental factors that play a role in causing deterioration, such as light, temperature, pollutants, pests, and humidity. Fluctuations in temperature (and its partner-in-crime humidity) can have damaging effects on materials and speed up their deterioration. While high temperatures promote chemical and physical reactions causing deterioration, cooler temperatures allow materials to stay in a stable state and decreases deterioration.

Therefore, we purposefully keep any spaces with objects at a consistent, cooler temperature to best care for our collection for generations to come.

As far as clothing choices go, layers are your best friend at museums.

~Paige


You Already Belong – Make it Official!

Hi Paige,

I’ve been to a few of the Museum’s programs and I think that I am hooked. I have been repeatedly impressed with how informative and entertaining the speakers on Sundays are. Is it true if I decide to become a member after the program finishes, that I can apply my previously purchased tickets towards the cost of a new membership?

~Hooked

Dear Hooked,

It sounds to me that you already belong to the Jewish Museum of Maryland community, so let’s make it official! By choosing to join, you help make all we do possible – from our changing exhibits to our fascinating programming.

It is true! If you have purchased tickets for a program, you are able to apply the cost of those tickets to your membership if your membership is purchased on the same day. Following the program, just drop by the Front Desk or Esther’s Place and a team member would be happy to help. Then, you can immediately begin to take advantage of your membership benefits! Like receiving a 10% discount on the book that you just heard the author talk about.

So why don’t you join us?

~Paige


Have your own question for Paige? Send her a message at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org.

To read more posts from Paige, click here!

 

 

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Jenny Goes to the “Vet”

Posted on August 29th, 2018 by

A blog post by JMM Marketing Manager Rachel Kassman. To read more posts from Rachel, click here.

As many of you know, here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland we pride ourselves on creating exhibits that are lively, innovative, and hands-on. So we make a point to build in different kinds of interactives – some as simple as a push of a button and others that take a little more active participation…like making an elephant disappear!

Any museum professional will tell you, hands-on interactives need to be prepared for lots of wear and tear. And even with the best of planning, sometimes you need to repair, replace, or re-think an interactive after it has been in use for a while.

In Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America, we underestimated the strength of our visitors and had to repair our punching bag, replacing its mount with a heavy-duty chain.

In Voices of Lombard Street we regularly replace the fake food in the deli section of the exhibit. You can see our missing coleslaw and bun discoloration in these before-and-after photos!

And in Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini, we were met with a challenge – Jenny, our disappearing elephant, was a little “under the weather” after performing her trick for so many adoring fans.

(You may have noticed this cuddly stand-in while Jenny was out of her box awaiting surgery.)

But don’t worry, JMM staff came to the rescue! Archivist Lorie Rombro and Visitor Services Manager Paige Woodhouse played doctor for the day and fixed Jenny right up (they even let me assist!). In preparation for “surgery,” they gathered a variety of potential repair supplies, from needle and thread to multiple brands of superglue. We weren’t sure exactly what material Jenny’s hide was made from and knew we might have to test a few different techniques.

As you can see here, Jenny’s trunk and tusks are worse-for-wear. In addition to repairing the tears themselves, we needed to find a way to increase the support inside the trunk to help prevent future damage. In order to do that, we decided to fully remove the trunk before re-attachment.

A behind-the-scenes fun fact? We used a combination of hand-carved epifoam and the recycled underwire from a bra (yes, you read that right!) to create the needed support. The underwire was the perfect angle for Jenny’s trunk.

In the end the judicious application of gorilla glue (and some TLC) let us return Jenny to her magic box where she continues to delight and astonish our museum visitors!

Make sure to stop in, say hi to Jenny, and watch her perform her miraculous disappearance.

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Reflections from the Second-Floor lounge of the USHMM

Posted on August 20th, 2018 by

This post was written by JMM Visitor Services Coordinator Paige Woodhouse. To read more posts from Paige, click here!

Entering the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C., I felt as though I had entered a building that could have been located anywhere in the world. I was separated from the hustle and bustle of tourists moving between their destinations across the National Mall. Having arrived prior to the Museum’s opening, our group from the Summer Teachers Institute collected on the stairs in the Hall of Witness. I immediately knew that the Museum’s design would have a strong impact on my visit.

STI participants standing at the bottom of the staircase in the Hall of Witness. The staircase is often thought to look like a railroad track. (Want to hear more about Summer Teachers Institute? Check out Ilene’s recent blog post here.)

Different components – including the exhibit floor plan, color of the walls, light levels, scents, and sounds – within a space culminate together to influence a visitor’s experience. These elements are carefully curated by the team at USHMM. The architecture of the USHMM was not designed to reference any specific site or structure. Rather through a collection of carefully selected materials and features, the architecture eludes to the history shared inside the Museum. It is meant to evoke reflection and memories.

The lounge located after portion of the permanent exhibit The ‘Final Solution’ – 1940 to 1945 dedicated to ghettos and death camps, is an example of how a carefully curated space impacted my experience.

The second-floor lounge is a clean white space. This space, with a few benches along the wall, is where I encountered artist Sol LeWitt’s wall drawing “Consequence.” But first, let me back up a few steps. Before entering this lounge, I walked through the “Tower of Faces.” The “Tower of Faces” is a three-floor-high component of the permanent exhibit. The tower is filled from floor to ceiling with photos of families and individuals. Consisting of approximately 1000 reproduction photos, this tower is devoted to the Jewish community of the Lithuanian town of Eisiskes. This community was massacred on September 25th and 26th, 1941.

“Tower of Faces.” You can learn more about this component of the USHMM’s permanent exhibit here.

I walked out of the “Tower of Faces” feeling saturated by images of families, couples, and individuals. I saw a glimpse into these people’s personal lives and their unique stories. After exiting this tower, I was confronted with Sol LeWitt’s artwork on the wall of the lounge. The artwork is composed of five monumental squares set on a black background. Each square is a different color: purple, yellow, blue, red, and orange.. In the center of each colored square is a smaller grey square with a thin white border.

Sol LeWitt’s “Consequence” located in the second floor lounge in the permanent exhibit at USHMM.

The result is four colorful portrait frames with nothing in the middle of them. Unlike the tower immediately prior, there are no faces, no families, no personalities, and no stories. They are void. They emit emptiness.

This space provided me, and other visitors, an opportunity to reflect. To digest the information presented in the permanent exhibit. The artwork “Consequence” is poignant. Taking up the entire wall, the artwork embodies that overwhelming sense of loss.

There are numerous spaces throughout the USHMM and each is designed in an incredibly thoughtful manor. While my experience in the second-floor lounge heavily resonated with me following my visit, I am certain that when I visit again I will find another element carefully curated that impacts my experience as a visitor.

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