It’s All in the Numbers: The Magical Secrets of JMM’s Education Department

Posted on September 13th, 2019 by


Performance Counts: September 2019

For this month’s edition of Performance Counts, the Education Department shares an inside look at the many students and teachers JMM has engaged with throughout the past year. To read past editions of Performance Counts, click here.


The Education Department at JMM works to link area public, private, and Jewish schools to our education programs. For our student visitors, we connect our permanent and temporary exhibits and the historic synagogues to themes of immigration and world religions.

We typically see between 4,000 and 6,000 students and teachers in our onsite and offsite education programs. This past year, the Education Department connected with over 10,000 students, teachers, and chaperones from area schools. We are confident that we had such a MAGICAL year due to the HUGE success of the exhibit, Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini.

In addition to our education program for our original exhibit on Houdini, we developed programs for Jewish Refugees and Shanghai, and Stitching History from the Holocaust & Fashion Statement (not to mention new programs for our permanent exhibits and synagogue). Here is a snapshot of who JMM engaged through educational programing this past year:


During the seven months the Houdini exhibit was on display (June 2018 to January 2019), we worked with 1842 students, teachers, and chaperones at the JMM for education programs in connection to the exhibit.

Houdini On-Site Numbers

>Public Schools – We had 24 visits from 14 different schools over the run of the exhibit.

>Jewish Schools –We had 9 visits from groups coming from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Howard County, DC, and Kunklestown, PA.

>Private/Other – We had 362 visitors from 8 universities, camps and private schools in the area visit the exhibit.

We worked with the curator/magician David London to develop a living history character to complement the Houdini exhibit. This living history performance was very popular and Harry Houdini performed for over 2400 students and teachers at area schools.

Houdini Offsite Numbers

>Public Schools – 1119 students and teachers from 6 area schools in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County.

>Jewish Schools – 1104 students and teachers from 8 area Jewish camps and schools.

>Private/Other – 200 campers from Camp B’more.

The Harry Houdini living history performance’s success was not limited to area schools. During the run of the exhibit, the living history character saw nearly 3200 people as part of a school, adult group, or public program. Following the exhibit, the character performed to over 1100 people at schools and synagogues. To date, we are receiving bookings for the upcoming school year.


Following the Houdini exhibit, we looked to the east and brought a travelling exhibit from Shanghai to JMM. While Jewish Refugees and Shanghai was here for only 6 weeks, we engaged with a number of area schools through educational programs.

Jewish Refugees and Shanghai On-Site Numbers

>Jewish Schools – We worked with one area Jewish school in connection to students learning in the classroom.

>Private/Other – We saw 233 students and teachers from area 8 separate universities and private schools.  Students visited from the Howard County Chinese School, Sidwell Friends, and Washington Wu Ying Public Charter School from the DC area.

Jewish Refugees and Shanghai also gave us the opportunity to provide a professional development opportunity for teachers.

We piloted the Winter Teachers Institute, where area teachers took part in a two-day learning opportunity in Holocaust education. Highlights included a visit to the People’s Republic of China Embassy in DC and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Teachers also participated in a full day of learning at JMM where they studied the plight of refugees during — and after — WWII and the reaction of the United States to the refugee situation.


In spring, we borrowed the powerful exhibit Stitching History from the Holocaust from the Jewish Museum Milwaukee. The exhibit depicts the moving story of the Strnads and their attempt to flee Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. Hedy Strnad tried to use her skills as a fashion designer to come to the United Stated. Our collections staff curated the beautiful exhibit Fashion Statement to complement the show. The exhibit allows visitors to think about the many ways that clothing signals one’s identity or group with which they want to identify.

Stitching History from the Holocaust & Fashion Statement Onsite Numbers

>Public Schools – 447 students and teachers from 10 different schools in Baltimore City

>Jewish Schools – 117 students from 4 groups.

>Private Schools – 213 students from 7 local private schools, universities and camps.


Back to School

Since the beginning of our new fiscal year (July 1, 2019), we have already engaged with 820 students, teachers, and chaperones from public, Jewish, and private schools and camps. As students and teachers returned to their classrooms this September, our education team is looking ahead to an exciting 2019-2020 school year.

Our team is looking to strengthen existing relationships and make new connections this year. 3500 new education brochures have been sent out to educators across Maryland. This brochure shares the variety of programs JMM offers on topics such as Baltimore history, immigration, Judaism, primary sources, and Holocaust Education.

2 new education programs are being developed for our upcoming special exhibit Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling opening on October 27, 2019 – one for elementary and one for middle school and above. Through hands-on activities, students will explore one of America’s largest industries, its innovative technology, and stories of the immigrant families that built it.

2 new Homeschool Days have been developed to support families seeking specialized, engaging experiences.

The Education Department is looking forward to another magical year as we strive to create experiences for students that will enrich their classroom learning, ignite their curiosity, and foster personal connections.


Questions about our Education Programs?
Contact School Program Coordinator Paige Woodhouse
at pwoodhouse@jewishmuseummd.org / 443-873-5167.


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Working for the Interns

Posted on August 9th, 2019 by

Performance Counts: August 2019

JMM was thrilled to welcome five new interns for our 2019 summer internship program. Our ten-week program is designed to give those interested in the museum profession a chance to learn about the different departments of museum work and to work on substantial projects related to their specific area of interest. Throughout the summer they participate in a variety of activities and learning opportunities.

As tomorrow is the last day at JMM for most of our interns, we thought we’d have Development and Marketing Manager Rachel Kassman, who also serves as our summer internship coordinator, share a bit about the experience we provide for this month’s edition of Performance Counts. To read past editions of Performance Counts, click here. To read more posts from Rachel, click here.


A significant goal of JMM’s summer internship program is helping our interns considering a career as museum professionals to get the broadest possible exposure to the field as a whole. To accomplish this, we not only include interns in the JMM workings (like observing staff meetings and education programs, participating in Museum Shop inventory, and assisting with the Annual Meeting) but also arrange workshops and field trips to other sites.

Fresh faces for the summer!

Before we get into those details, refresh your memory about this summer’s intern class with their introductions here. And here’s a few more numbers for you: this year’s summer interns come to us from three states: New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. They attend four different colleges: Goucher College, Johns Hopkins University, Towson University, and Albright College. Between the five interns there are seven majors ranging from sociology to history to family science, and six different minors, including museums and society, evolutionary studies, and near eastern studies. (This group is definitely academically motivated!)

This year we were able to offer our interns nine professional development workshops, led by JMM staff: Collections Handling and Intro to Past Perfect with Joanna Church; Museum Evaluation as well as Museum Accessibility with Paige Woodhouse; Planning Public Programs with Trillion Attwood; Supporting Trans and Gender Expansive Visitors with Talia Makowsky; Project Management with Tracie Guy-Decker; Development & Stewardship in a Museum Setting with Tracey Dorfmann; Ethics of Museum Management with Marvin Pinkert; and Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviewing with me. Some of these workshops – like collections handling and museum evaluation – are put to good use immediately. For instance, if you’ve visited our current exhibits, Fashion Statement and Stitching History, recently, you may have been met by an intern with a clipboard ready to ask you about your experience as they try out their new museum evaluation skills.

Oh the places you’ll go!

Our summer interns also participated in seven field trips to other cultural institutions, visiting: the Rare Books & Manuscripts at Walters Art Museum for a program with their curator; the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House for their Flag Day celebrations; the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, including a behind-the-scenes talk with their education department; the National Aquarium’s Animal Care and Rescue Center, a full day exploring a variety of Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC; and as part of our Summer Teachers Institute, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Visionary Arts Museum. And after each experience we have our interns write a personal thank you note to the tour guides and professionals who took time out of their days to speak with us.

From the minds of interns.

To further develop our interns’ professional skills, we ask them to write – a lot. Each intern is assigned two individual blog dates over the summer. They may choose any topics they like, as long as the post is related in some way to their internship and museums. Often their posts are inspired by the projects they are working on, like Hannah’s discovery of Ernestine Rose, the “First Jewish Feminist,” and Elana’s sense of connection to  Lilie and Aaron Straus. Megan reflected on her experience helping with two very different development events, and Mallory shared specifics of two different collections she has focused on – one about the Hutzler family (of department store fame) and the other on Har Sinai Congregation. Ariella took a holistic view, asking what it actually means to “work at a museum.”

In response…

In addition to their individual posts, interns are also asked to write a “weekly response.” The topics of these responses cover a lot of ground. Some weeks they were provided with articles about issues and trends in the museum field, like neutrality or education, and asked to synthesis a response. In other weeks they were asked to research and recommend other Museums’ offerings, like social media accounts, exhibits, and podcasts. And, of course, we asked them to reflect on and apply their learning from their internships throughout the summer, from museum evaluation after the accompanying workshop to a midterm check in on week five to today’s post on the end of their internships.

I have been impressed all summer by the thoughtfulness and work ethic of our summer interns. Getting a chance to teach and guide folks in the early stages of their career journeys is incredibly rewarding and here at JMM we want to make sure that we give as much to our interns as they give to us! I’m already getting excited thinking about next summer and a new group of interns.


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So Much More Than a Number

Posted on July 12th, 2019 by

I asked the newest member of our team to write this month’s edition of Performance Counts. In her post, Visitor Services Coordinator Talia Makowsky, not only shares our phenomenal FY19 visitor numbers, but illustrates one of the reasons for our success- the incredibly dedicated and thoughtful staff we have assembled. ~Marvin. To read past editions of Performance Counts, click here. To read more posts from Talia, click here.


For some people, summer means a break a from school, or a chance to hit the beach, or chowing down at a cookout. For me, this summer has been full of learning all about the Jewish Museum, and the numbers that keep us operational and successful.

At first glance, the statistics part of my role, as Visitor Services Coordinator, doesn’t seem so exciting. I have to keep track of how many people visit each day, how many go on tours, how many come in a group and so on. It’s a part of my job that may not seem all that appealing, but in my six months at JMM, I have come to appreciate the significance of every check mark I’ve recorded.

Each number is a person who chose to spend their time and their money engaging in our stories. One number is someone learning about the history of Jonestown, where they may have lived all these years but never knew about the immigrant community. Another number is someone stepping into a synagogue for the first time. Many of the numbers are school children, engaging with their learning in a new way.

These numbers are more than just how many people walked through our doors. They’re the experiences people had at our Museum. They’re people who’ve come for the first time, or are coming back again and again, because they feel that our stories are worth supporting, sharing, and learning. Please join me in celebrating these numbers and appreciating every person who chose us as their storyteller this year.

We had plenty of unique stories to tell this year, including the stories from our Jewish Refugees and Shanghai exhibit.

If you’re not familiar with how we keep track of our statistics, here’s a quick overview.  These numbers come from our past fiscal year, July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. This is Fiscal Year 2019, or FY19. And it was one of the biggest ones we’ve had at our Museum.This last year we had over 15,000 people visit the Museum! This number represents the total onsite visitors, or the total amount of people who stepped foot onto our campus. This number exceeds our previous fiscal year, which was over 10,800 people. In fact, this number beats out our records going back to at least  FY11, the earliest year when we have a comparable method of counting.  We believe this may be the biggest year on record for the Jewish Museum’s onsite visitors, which includes general attendance, school groups, adult groups, public programs, rentals, and teacher trainings/workshops.

One of the reasons why we had such a magical year was because of our Houdini exhibit, which was open from June 2018 through January 2019. However, the momentum from Houdini didn’t leave when the exhibit did, to travel around. Our other exhibits this year, Jewish Refugees in Shanghai, My Family Story, and Fashion Statement and Stitching History from the Holocaust continued to attract visitors, with 5,890 people marked for general admission.

We loved showing off our style with our Fashion Statement exhibit, on view until September 15th!

We had 3,553 students and educators join us for those exhibits, as well as for our general education programming. This included visits to the Houdini exhibit, our Intro to Judaism program, and much more. With our Jewish Refugees in Shanghai exhibit, we were able to reach out to a whole new audience of learners, some of whom were studying Chinese, and could read both the English and Chinese sides of the exhibit panels!

Our educators love working with students to teach them about Jewish history in Maryland and beyond. Most of time, we end up learning from the students too!

The kids weren’t the only ones who had some fun learning in our Museum. We had 1,034 people visit in adult groups as well this year. These groups had a chance to find a connection not only with the Museum, but with their friends as well. Our adult groups experienced magic, laughter, and learning in our exhibits and tours, and we look forward to welcoming them back in the new fiscal year.Along with those exhibits, we had exciting programs to entice and educate our visitors. With over 50 public programs, we had a wide range of topics and activities to entice the 3,776 people who attended them! With programs ranging from book talks to seances, bake-offs to Sephardic musical performances, we had plenty of things to do last year. Of course, the fun doesn’t stop just because it’s hot out! We already have programs planned through November, so make sure to keep an eye on our Events page!

We had a grand and spooky time last Halloween, with our Houdini Séance. We hope to continue having fun with you all this year! – Photo courtesy of Will Kirk.

With so many things to do and exhibits to see at the Museum, it’s no surprise that we’re attracting people from all over. While 17% of our visitors’ hail from nearby Baltimore City and Baltimore county, this year we had 116 people visit us from other countries. These countries included Singapore, New Zealand, Poland, the UK, France, and Canada, showing us that our Museum is a destination worth traveling for in any direction!These amazing numbers this year represent more than just the success of our marketing, program planning, and outreach. These numbers are the thousands of people who have chosen to visit our Museum to listen to the stories we collect and share with our audience. Each number is a person thinking more deeply about history, whether their own Jewish history or a new culture they’ve never encountered before. Each number is someone opening their mind and their heart to our community, here in Jonestown, and we’re honored by every single one.

Thank you to everyone who visited this past fiscal year, to make FY19 a success. Please continue attending our programs, checking out our exhibits, and supporting us as members, so that we can keep sharing these incredible stories.

~Talia


Not yet a member – or know someone who you think should join the family? Share this link and help grow the family today!


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