Learning More About Our Visitors

Posted on July 13th, 2018 by

Our monthly look at JMM “by the numbers,” Performance Counts, comes to you this week from Visitor Services Coordinator Paige Woodhouse.  To read more posts from Paige, click here!


When you, the JMM visitor, enter the museum you are greeted by one of our dedicated front desk volunteers. While welcoming you to the Museum, they ask you a few questions. The conversation often goes something like this:

“Welcome to the Jewish Museum of Maryland! Have you visited with us before?”

“No, this is my first time.”

“Wonderful, we are so happy to have you. How did you happen to hear about us?”

“I read about you in the Baltimore Sun. They did an article on your Houdini exhibit.”

“Interesting! And where are you visiting us from today?”

“Pikesville.”

Not only do our front desk volunteers absolutely love hearing the personal story that has landed you on the JMM’s doorstep, the answers to these questions help the JMM learn more about our visitors as a whole. Here at the JMM, we seek to be a destination. We want to encourage more visitors to engage in our historic sites, exhibits, collections, and programs. From programming to marketing, the answers to these questions inform decision-making at the JMM. By seeing who we reach, we are also able to see who we haven’t reached, and where new potential visitors may be.

So, let’s take a moment to look back over the past fiscal year (July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018) at you, the JMM visitor. We categorize an “onsite visitor,” or someone who physically steps foot inside our Museum’s campus, into a few different groups. These categories are: adult groups, school groups, general attendance, teacher trainings/workshops, researchers, rentals, and public programs/events.

Visitors enjoying Amending America: The Bill of Rights.

During the last year, over 10,800 people chose to visit the JMM and experience the six special exhibits we displayed (Just Married, Discovery & Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage, Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, My Family StoryBook of Joseph: Giving Voice to the Hollander Family, and Amending America: The Bill of Rights). Of those visitors, over 3,900 people fall into the general attendance category.

Over 3,600 visitors attended one (or multiple!) of over 65 public programs featuring scholars, artists, authors, and filmmakers that built on the Museum’s exhibits.

Contestants and Visitors participating in the Great Kugel Cook Off last October 8, 2017,one of the many public programs offered by the JMM.

About 2000 people attended as part of a school group and about 600 visitors came with their adult group or organization. (Of course, this doesn’t count the 1600 students we reached in their schools and synagogues.) The remainder of visitors came to the Museum as researchers, part of a rental, or teachers taking part in a workshop (like our Summer Teacher’s Institute coming up in August).

Students from Frederick Adventist Academy during their visit to the Jewish Museum of Maryland on April 25, 2018.

But let’s not forget those questions. Of our general attendance visitors who kindly answered our questions upon arrival, 38% had previously known about the museum and 29% learned about us from a friend, family member, or coworker. So, if you had a great experience, please keep spreading the word!

This chart breaks down how different people have heard about the JMM over the last year.

The JMM attracted local, regional, national and international visitors last year. 52% of visitors came from Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Alternatively, 4% of visitors joined us from other countries, including Israel, New Zealand, Brazil, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Romania (to name a few).

This chart breaks down where our visitors are coming from. Not surprisingly, most of our visitors are local residents.

While seeking to be a destination, the JMM also strives to be a site of discovery. We hope that you can draw personal connections to individuals, groups, events, and trends in Maryland’s Jewish history. We hope that you can “find yourself here.” With this in mind, our front desk team always suggests that you join us on a tour of our two historic synagogues. Over the last year 401 tours were delivered by volunteers to 1508 visitors! The next time you drop by, please delight our volunteers with your stories of how you made your way to the JMM, bring a friend, and don’t hesitate to join a synagogue tour.

~ Paige Woodhouse
  Visitor Services Coordinator

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Meet The New Trustees

Posted on June 15th, 2018 by

Performance Counts: June 2018

This month’s edition of Performance Counts comes from Development Director, Tracey Dorfmann.

~Marvin


As a newcomer to the JMM team, one of the delightful things I have discovered is the exceptionally dedicated JMM Board. This group of 30 talented women and men help the staff behind the scenes and sometimes right out front.

Just a few of our excellent board members!

Together they give over a thousand hours of service by sharing their wisdom and expertise at meetings, helping us raise money for projects, weighing in on many topics, and adding to our strategic visioning conversations. Several of our board Members also volunteer in many other capacities of the Museum such being docents and aiding in our collections department and attending relevant meetings outside of our building.

Board members at work

Last month we elected six officers, Board President Dr. Robert Keehn; Vice Presidents Nancy Kutler, Jeff Scherr, and Len Weinberg; Treasurer Jerry Macks; and Secretary Arnold Fruman. All of our officers have devoted years of their lives to this museum – recruiting new friends, engaging in our programs and enabling our success. In addition to electing these officers, we also added several new faces to fill vacancies and I would like you to get to know them.

This year we welcome five new Trustees. They are: Robert (Bob) Manekin, Robyn Schaffer, Angela Wells-Sims, Stuart Rosenzwog, and Steven Hawtof. These individuals infuse our leadership with a wide range skills, knowledge and interests. Respectively they represent the following professions: Commercial Real Estate, Health Administration, Healthcare Finance, Building Materials Distribution, Business and Real Estate Law.

Four – Bob, Angela, Stuart, and Steven are Baltimore natives. One (Robyn) was born in Schenectady, NY but has called Baltimore home since 1999.  One of our new board members (Bob) was a JAGC Officer on active duty stationed in Hawaii. Cumulatively, at different points in their lives they have lived in four states and in one other country, Israel. They all have children. The JMM staff hopes to meet all 14 school-aged and adult children from these five families.

Some favorite films include Amadeus, Annie, and The Wizard of Oz.  Favorite books include A World Undone, and Excellence by John Gardiner. Their passions include: family, Judaism, connecting the discourse between health and education, growth and change, and appreciating life.

What they Love about Baltimore:

“It’s home”

“a large Orthodox Jewish population and many Kosher restaurants”

“Historic Architecture, Public Parks, Great Food, Innovative and Talented People”

“History and Diverse Ethnicity”

Every one of them loves Maryland because of its location and particularly because of the diversification of lifestyles and geography: urban, rural, beach, and mountains.

In total we have 21 Trustees who are volunteering for three-year terms: Sheldon Bearman, Erica Breslau, Neri Cohen, Alan Dorenfeld, Roberta Greenstein, Saralynn Glass, Toby Gordon, Lola Hahn, Steven Hawtof, Bonnie Heneson, Skip Klein, Abram Kronsberg, Suzanne Levin-Lapides, Ira Malis, Robert Manekin, Judy Pachino, Lee Rosenberg, Stuart Rosenzwog, Rochelle “Rikki” Spector, Claire Tesh, and Angela Wells-Sims. We have two Trustees volunteering for a one-year Presidential Appointment: Robert Gehman and Robyn Schaffer

We are looking forward to a vibrant and productive year with our terrific Board of Trustees.

~Tracey

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Performance Counts: The Book of Joseph

Posted on May 11th, 2018 by

Our monthly look at JMM “by the numbers” comes to you this week from Director of Collections and Exhibits, Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Our lobby exhibit The Book of Joseph: Giving Voice to the Hollander Family may take up only a little over sixty square feet of space in the orientation space, but nonetheless it requires many hours to research, write, and install even small displays like this one.

I had the privilege of looking over the primary source material, reading the book based on the family story, watching the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre’s production of the play, and talking to Richard Hollander, whose family’s story is told through all these different media.

In 1939, Joseph Hollander and his wife left Poland just days before the Germans invaded, and after an arduous journey through Europe, they ended up – accidentally – in New York. While they were fighting to keep from being deported, Joseph’s family in Cracow wrote hundreds of letters to him about the worsening conditions under which they were suffering. Despite his work to secure them safe passage, and later attempts – after the letters stopped in 1942 – to find them, Joseph never learned the fate of his family. Nor did he tell the full story to his son Richard, instead carefully storing all the letters, photos, and other memories away in a briefcase.

Richard only discovered the case, and the stories it contained, after his father’s death.

Some years later, he delved into the material, had the letters translated, and with scholar Christopher Browning wrote the book Every Day Lasts a Year. Playwright Karen Hartman then turned the family’s story into the play “The Book of Joseph,” first produced by the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and enjoying its East Coast premiere at the Everyman Theatre in Baltimore.

In order to narrow this history – relating the lives of 14 people, over the course of six years – down into something that could be conveyed in a small exhibition, the full story had to be known.

To that end, I cataloged 157 letters and postcards written between 1940 and 1942 by the Hollanders in Poland to Joseph Hollander in the U.S.; matched those letters up to the translations in the book; and selected letters that could best illustrate important elements of the family’s story, even to those visitors unable to read German or Polish.

Even though each letter tells its own small piece of the story, only 23 of those letters ended up in the exhibit itself. (If you haven’t had the chance to read the English translations of the full collection in the book Every Day Lasts a Year, I strongly encourage you to do so.)

In addition to the exhibit itself, I and our Marketing Manager, Rachel Kassman, have been collecting and developing additional content to augment the story, including an interview with playwright Karen Hartman and Joseph Hollander, blog posts highlighting individual letters not included in the exhibit, and news coverage related to both the exhibit and the play. You can check out that bonus content here.

To celebrate the opening of the exhibit, three actors from Everyman Theatre’s upcoming production of “The Book of Joseph,” along with the play’s director, and Richard Hollander himself, joined us at the JMM on April 26th for a special reading of two scenes, and a question-and-answer session with the audience. 89 people attended this unique opportunity to compare two very different ways of experiencing this poignant story: through the original handwritten letters themselves, and through spoken, dramatic interpretation.

The Book of Joseph: Giving Voice to the Hollander Family is on view at the Museum through June 3, 2018. “The Book of Joseph” is now open at Everyman Theatre and runs through June 10th.

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