Performance Counts September 2015: Adieu to Cinema Judaica

Posted on September 11th, 2015 by

Two museum workers unframing items from the exhibit.

De-installing Cinema Judaica

This week at the JMM we bid a fond farewell to Cinema Judaica. The exhibition of film posters and memorabilia, developed by Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, was on display from July 1-September 6. Thanks to the creativity and hard work of JMM collections manager, Joanna Church, with assistance from exhibit designer and fabricator, Mark Ward, the exhibition also featured a local tie in through the addition of the wonderful photographs by Amy Davis of local movie houses (many of which have long been shuttered) and documentation about local film screenings of movies on display.

Cinema Judaica proved to be a summer blockbuster, drawing unexpected crowds and press attention. In total, during the nine weeks the exhibit was on display we welcomed 9% more visitors in comparison to same period last year.  This was, in large part, thanks to the very successful events planned by JMM Programs Manager, Trillion Attwood.


Lecturer next to PowerPoint slide on Screen

Jewish Movies 101

Cinema Judaica was an excellent inspiration for the nine programs that took place during the exhibit’s run.  Many programs were lectures, with speakers from California, New York and Pennsylvania. Topics varied from an exploration of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, to a brief history of Jewish movies and even an exploration of what remains of Baltimore’s movie theaters.

The Great Dictator film poster next to lecturer.

Fighting Fascism with a Movie

We also presented JMM Features, a series of three free movies screenings inspired by the exhibit. Two of the movies were screened outside in the lot across from the JMM entrance and one was shown in the JMM lobby. The movies were a huge success attracting great crowds including lots of new faces. Unfortunately we lost count of how many bags of popcorn we served but we did see the largest audience for An American Tail.

Outdoor film screenings of The Great Dictator and Gentleman's Agreement

Outdoor film screenings of The Great Dictator and Gentleman’s Agreement

In total the programs attracted 612 attendees, it is interesting to note that almost all of the programs attracted an above average audience. However the most popular program was Amy Davis’ lecture Flickering Treasures, which explored Baltimore’s historic movie theatres. If you missed any of our programs we recorded the audio of three lectures which will soon be available on our website.



View down wall of various film posters, starting with large 10 Commandments

A variety of poster sizes on display

“Cinema Judaica” included 61 movies, which were represented by 66 different posters, lobby cards, pressbooks, trade advertisements, and the like.  The images ranged in size from an 8”x10” still photo of Claude Rains (in character as Haym Salomon from Sons of Liberty) to a “six sheet” poster for The Ten Commandments measuring almost 7’ square.

An Amy Davis photo in situ

An Amy Davis photo

To put a local spin on these posters, we researched the Baltimore-area movie theaters at which the films played.  Thus, we were able to namecheck over 50 theaters, with eight significant venues shown in photographs.  Many of the comments made by visitors focused on memories of their favorite movie houses in and around the city.

The #GoldenTevye voting box.

The #GoldenTevye voting box.

In the hope of engaging audiences even further, we asked visitors to vote for their favorite poster in the exhibition. During the course of the exhibit 164 votes were cast, with visitors choosing 35 of the included movies (sorry, The House I Live In and your unloved friends).  The winner by a landslide was The Ten Commandments, with 22 votes (just over 13% of the total); Exodus came in second with 10 votes, followed closely by The Diary of Anne Frank and The Great Dictator, which garnered 9 votes each.

A selection of posters

A selection of posters

In the course of researching and installing the exhibit, a number of entertaining facts came to light.  For example, as I typed the cast lists of all 61 films I noticed that several actors appeared twice in this exhibit, including Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, and Haya Harareet. However, two actors managed to sneak in as the accidental stars of the exhibit: Character actor Hugh Griffith appears in four of the films (and won an Oscar for his role in Ben-Hur), and supporting actor George Sanders (shown here in Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent) appeared in five.

George Sanders in Foreign Correspondent, he is holding a phone to his ear.

George Sanders in Foreign Correspondent

In the end, my favorite tidbit from “Cinema Judaica” is the fact that this was likely the most exclamatory exhibit we’ve ever had the honor of displaying.  …Sorry, I should say: the honor of displaying! Superlatives, adjectives, and !s abounded. This is only to be expected, of course, when your gallery includes “The thrill spectacle of the year!” (Foreign Correspondent), “The mightiest motion picture ever created!” (Solomon and Sheba), and “A story timeless, tumultuous, overpowering!” (Samson and Delilah).  Though only two movies had exclamation marks in the actual title (Operation Eichmann! and I Accuse!), most of the posters availed themselves of the chance to proclaim the movie’s stars, plot, or general wonderfulness with great excitement. The most excessive use was on Sodom and Gomorrah, which had 11… but lest you dismiss that as B movie excess, I’ll point out that the runner-up in the contest was the prestigious Judgement at Nuremberg, which scattered 10 exclamation marks across the poster.  Through the entire exhibit, I counted 117 exclamation marks total!


Don’t be too sad – we’ll have plenty more movie action this Fall with our Folk Film Festival, Tuesday evenings in November!


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Performance Counts August 2015: Intern Round Up

Posted on August 14th, 2015 by

From Rachel Kassman, Development & Marketing Manager and Official Intern Wrangler:

This was my first year as the official “Intern Wrangler,” and Jobi Zink left me some very dainty yet incredibly challenging shoes to fill. Luckily this summer’s amazing interns helped keep things running smoothly and made the job much easier for me than I expected! This year’s interns hailed from a variety of schools – George Washington University, Cooperstown Graduate Program, University of Maryland, Towson University, Dickinson College, and Johns Hopkins University, representing both undergraduate and graduate student programs.

Interns at the National Federation for the Blind.

Interns at the National Federation for the Blind.

While each intern had their own individual projects and assignments, it was all hands on deck for de-installing The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit and installing Cinema Judaica. You couldn’t ask for a more enthusiastic crew. The interns were also of invaluable assistance for Cinema Judaica’s grand opening on July 2nd. But I think my favorite group project was the creation of our Paul Simon lip-synch videos – I won’t go into too much detail but trust me, when you see them you’ll understand all the laughter that’s been happening in the office this summer. All of these projects were a great opportunity for staff and interns to work together and get to know each other better.

Every year we try and make sure our summer internships are well-rounded, fully-immersive experiences that benefit our interns as much as they benefit us through a variety of field trips, workshops, and other professional opportunities. This year was no exception.

We were so pleased to be hosted by our neighbors at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African-American history for their birthday open house. We also had special tours of the National Federation for the Blind, where the interns learned about accessibility; and the Baltimore Museum of Industry, where the interns were able to go “behind the scenes” and check out the BMI’s collections storage area (trust me, it’s more fascinating than you think!). The interns also visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum during the Summer Teachers Institute.

Posing in the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture special exhibit.

Posing in the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture special exhibit.

Exhibit interns Sophia and Elizabeth also had the opportunity to visit the National Library of Medicine in the course of their internship while researching potential exhibit object loans. Collections intern Kaleigh visited the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia to pick up an item, visited the Maryland Historical Society to return loan items used in our Amazing Mendes Cohen exhibit, and made multiple trips into the community to pick up Museum collection donations.

Museum staff members were kind enough to volunteer their time to provide a series of professional workshops for the interns as well. Curator Karen Falk introduced them to exhibition planning and evaluation while Collections Manager Joanna Church gave them a hands-on course in object handling. Deputy Director Deborah Cardin covered the ins-and-outs of grant proposal writing while Assistant Director Tracie Guy-Decker took them through the whirlwind of project management. Programs Manager Trillion Attwood and I led the annual “Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviewing” workshop – though we were very impressed already with the professionalism of this year’s intern cohort! Executive Director Marvin Pinkert hosted all of the interns for a brown bag focus group on marketing the Museum – particularly its upcoming exhibition projects.

Collections Intern Kaleigh inventories a doctor's bag.

Collections Intern Kaleigh inventories a doctor’s bag.

Saralynn and Sheldon Glass Education Interns: Eden Cho & Falicia Eddy 

Our education interns always have their work cut out for them – every summer the Museum participates in SuperKids, a “summer cultural enrichment program designed to help elementary grade students in Baltimore City Public Schools maintain and/or improve their academic skills.” Once a week the Museum hosted campers for a half-day experience at the Museum, including an in-depth tour and scavenger hunt in our Voices of Lombard Street exhibit and a “Create Your Own Neighborhood”hands-on activity. In addition to working with these campers, education interns lead tours of our two historic synagogues, assisted at the front desk, helped plan and execute our three day Summer Teachers Institute and much more.

Each intern also had her own special projects – Eden created a treasure hunt of things to look for in our current Cinema Judaica exhibit, analyzed teacher evaluations of school tours for grant writing purposes, researched the history of St. John the Baptist Lithuanian Church for the development of a new synagogue tour, and designed a curriculum for our upcoming exhibit Paul Simon: Words and Music. Falicia adapted the Ida Rehr’s immigrant trunk lessons to immigrant experiences today, created a small lobby exhibit as a companion the 2015 Summer Teachers Institute, conducted research on businesses in Pikesville and assisted with a lesson plan on protest and injustice in Baltimore’s history that connects Jews and African Americans.

Education Interns Eden and Falicia direct a SuperKids activity.

Education Interns Eden and Falicia direct a SuperKids activity.

Saul L. Ewing, LLC in Memory of Robert L. Weinberg Exhibitions Interns: Sophia Brocenos & Elizabeth Livesey

The summer 2015 exhibition interns Elizabeth Livesey and Sophia Brocenos worked on our upcoming Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America exhibit. This exhibit opens in March and I think it’s going to knock your socks off – in no small part because of the efforts fo Elizabeth and Sophia!

Elizabeth’s research focused on scientific research conducted in Jewish hospitals in the 20th century and different medical milestones during the “Golden Age of Medicine.” She then translated this research into exhibit panels and object and image labels. Elizabeth also looked into ancestry and DNA survey programs, and the lives and careers of Drs. Salk and Sabin. She also conducted and transcribed an oral history for the exhibit.

Sophia’s internship focused on identifying, executing, and processing loans of digital images from institutional collections. This involved contacting an employee at said institution and working out the paperwork to receive the digital image and the rights to use it in the exhibit as well as cataloging them in the JMM collections system and creating a physical file. She also assisted Curator Karen Falk with maintaining consistent data over various exhibit files.

Exhibitions Intern Sophia hard at work at her desk.

Exhibitions Intern Sophia hard at work.

Saul L. Ewing, LCC in Memory of Robert L. Weinberg Collections Intern: Kaleigh Ratliff

This summer’s collections intern Kaleigh was an amazing asset. The Museum manages a large and ever-growing collection of objects, photographs and archival material that is cared for by a single staff member. Having a full time summer intern means getting caught up with the day-to-day work of collections that often gets delayed due to more immediate concerns. Kaleigh worked on this year’s collections inventory, working her way through roughly 1,600 small objects. She also updated and reconciled object loans (both those we loaned out to other institutions and those we borrowed), housed artifacts in their proper places, processed new accessions into the collections, assisted on artifact pick-ups of new donations, and prepared materials for researchers. 

Jewish Museum of Maryland Marketing Interns: Rachel Sweren & Carmen Venable

I may be a little biased (I am the marketing manager after all) but these two interns put the fun back into summer for me. With their combined efforts the Museum created 13 separate lip-synch videos (which I can’t wait to share with you – don’t worry, they’ll be coming soon!), assisted with the Museum Shop annual inventory, and researched and created content for use on all the JMM’s social media platforms.

Carmen also created an exhibit installation in miniature video with collections intern Kaleigh (you can view it HERE), wrote instructions on how to create future videos, whipped our Tumblr into shape, sent out promotional materials about JMM’s summer programs and researched multiple marketing strategies and ideas.

Interns at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

Interns at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

YouthWorks Summer Jobs: Zericka Jones and Darius Smith 

This year the Museum also participated in the Baltimore City’s YouthWorks summer jobs program, which matches up Baltimore City students, ages 14 – 21 to five-week work experiences with private sector, nonprofit, and city and state government employers. We were thrilled with both our YouthWorks employees. Zericka worked with Marvin Pinkert as an administrative assistant, helping to organize his office, prepare meeting and project materials, and assisting wherever needed throughout the Museum. Darius worked with Joanna Church in the collections, assisting with an inventory of the photograph collection and digitizing genealogy and family history records.

Collections boxes with pink post-it notes on them.

Darius inventoried all the boxes with pink tags!

If you haven’t already been following along already, I strongly urge you to head over to our blog and check out some of the truly excellent posts these interns have created throughout their summer here at the JMM – THIS LINK will take you directly there!

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Performance Counts, July 2015: Education at the JMM – A Year in Review

Posted on July 10th, 2015 by

The beginning of summer marks the end of the school year- the time when the education department reviews its activities of the past year to see how our programs and resources have the impacted students, teachers and adult audiences.  We wanted to take the opportunity to share some of our accomplishments with you.

Number of Students:   We are pleased to report that we had a successful year serving close to 4600 area school students from Maryland public, independent, and parochial schools (including Jewish day and congregational schools).  Our breakdown of school attendance is as follows:

Public Schools

District Students Served Number of Schools
Baltimore City 1855 16
Baltimore County 134 4
Frederick County 76 1
Howard County 23 1
Montgomery County 42 1
Prince Georges County 42 1


Independent and Parochial Schools and Others**

District Students Served Number of Schools
Anne Arundel County 47 1
Baltimore City 855 19
Baltimore County 37 2
Carroll County 5 1
Frederick County 31 1
Harford County 250   1*
Montgomery County 15 1


*Outreach program at John Carroll High School where area high school students from more than a dozen schools participated in Lessons of the Shoah.


** We had visitors from Central High School –Philadelphia, PA  and Stockton University-  Galloway, NJ


Jewish Day and Congregational Schools 

District Students Served Number of Schools
Anne Arundel County 44 1
Baltimore City 124 4
Baltimore County 561 5
Harford County 14 1
Howard County 124 5
Montgomery County 67 3
Prince Georges County 28 1
Other*** 82 4


*** Visitors were from Washington DC, Forest Hills, NY, and Diller Teens from Ashkelon, Israel

Educational Programs and Activities

T he JMM education department continues to provide high quality educational resources that align with Common Core goals and objectives that enhance the social studies curriculum. Education programs include field trips and tours of our historic synagogues and changing exhibitions, and  outreach programs in the classroom such as our successful Immigrant’s Trunk living history program (students learn about immigration history through dramatic one-person plays based on the real lives of real life immigrants  who settled in Baltimore in the early 20th century). Other programs include enrichment activities such as art projects and creative writing workshops.  We also have History Kits and archival explorations on a number of topics available for school groups.

The Amazing Mendes Cohen Education Activities

Using puzzle pieces as the motivation and hook for students- the education department created two separate activities for both elementary/middle school and high school groups using puzzle pieces to engage students.  Our younger visitors were given blank puzzles and explored their own identity using the puzzle pieces from the exhibition describing different attributes of Mendes Cohen.  How was Mendes Cohen a family man?  How are you part of a family?  How was Mendes Cohen a patriotic American?  How are you a patriotic American? Where did Mendes Cohen travel?  Where have you travelled?  How was Mendes Cohen a civic advocate? What are some ways that you demonstrate being a civic advocate?  The students loved filling in their puzzle pieces and then putting the actual puzzles together and sharing with their friends and family.

The older students were also given an activity that involved looking at the puzzle pieces describing the attributes for Mendes Cohen.  They were challenged to find the supporting evidence in the text panels of the exhibit to help them understand the many facets of Mendes Cohen.  In addition to these activities, all of the students enjoyed the interactive activities in the exhibit- especially the powder magazine and the world map stringing activity.

Students loved racing against the clock to ensure that the powder magazine did not explode and learning about the names of countries and cities throughout Europe and the Middle East where Cohen travelled. Another exhibit highlight for students was the section of the exhibit where they learned about the story of Cohen creating a flag for his trip down the Nile, viewing the actual flag he created and then making their own flag to hoist up the mast. In addition, to these activities done in conjunction with the exhibit, the education staff put together  a curriculum for teachers that includes lesson plans for elementary , middle and high school audiences.

Living History Performances:

Both school and adult groups scheduled living history performances both on-site at the Museum and at offsite venues throughout the year.  These living history performances, portrayed by professional actors, tell the story of actual Jewish immigrants to Baltimore.  Below is a breakdown of performances this year.

Living History Character Number of Performances Audience
Ida Rehr 18 790
Bessie Bluefeld 5 322
Mendes Cohen 16 836
Saul Bernstein 1 26


Professional Development for Teachers and Museum Professionals

Professional development for teachers continues to be an important component of our educational program. We served more teachers this past year than in FY 14 (503 in FY 15 as compared to 439 in FY 14) with workshops devoted to topics including immigration and American history, world religions, Holocaust, and working with primary sources. Our annual Summer Teachers Institute remains a popular professional development opportunity for teachers. Below is the breakdown of districts and those served.


District Number of Workshops Audience
Baltimore City 3 90
Baltimore County 1 40
Harford County 4 157
Prince Georges County 2 170
Montgomery County 1 45


In addition to these workshops, the JMM education staff attended and facilitated two workshops at the AASLH – American Association of State Local History Museums in St. Paul, MN and also the MSCSS – Middle States Council for Social Studies in Gettysburg, PA.

Kudos to our Volunteer Docents and Museum Educators:

The education department has been privileged to work with committed volunteer docents and museum educators throughout the year in an effort to facilitate our education programs.  Kudos and thank you to  volunteer docents  Barbara Cohen, Harvey Karch, and Lois Fekete in working specifically with our school age audiences.  Special thanks to the amazing museum educators who have also helped promote our education programs. … Virginia Steiner, Jessie Gordon, Arielle Kaden, Emma Glaser, Sean Schumacher, Carolyn Bevans, Kelly Suredam, Abby Krolik and Graham Humphrey.

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