Posted on October 18th, 2013 by Rachel
A Token of Our Appreciation
A special treat!
If you were among the guests at Saturday members’ preview for Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War, you walked away with a replica of a sutler’s token from Lazarus Goldheim, a Baltimore-born merchant assigned to J.E.B. Stuart’s 1st Virginia Cavalry. To be more precise you walked away with an “improvement” on the sutler’s token – since this one was large enough to read AND it was made of chocolate! The token was a fitting symbol for our opening weekend, as we took the powerful story of the Jewish experience in the Civil War and made enhancements that made the topic, the exhibit and our greatest Civil War artifact, the Lloyd Street Synagogue, more accessible to the public.
Marvin gives the inaugural “1861″ Tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue.
In this issue of Performance Counts, I have asked my colleagues to share some of the details about our very successful launch of the project. But before we get to what we accomplished, I want to offer my own “token of appreciation” to those who provided the financial support that enabled every aspect of the project – from shipping the artifacts, to developing new Maryland content, to creating family activities and school group curricula to the opening events themselves. First on my list of thank yous is Barbara Katz who not only provided her personal support to the exhibit through the Morris Schapiro and Family Foundation, but also led the charge in encouraging the generosity of others. Our lead gifts came from Willard and Lillian Hackerman/Whiting Turner and the Middendorf Foundation. Major funding was also provided by the Morton K. and Jane Blaustein Foundation, Richard and Rosalee C. Davison Foundation, the Eliasberg Family Foundation and the Gottesman Fund. Additional funding came from the Lois and Irving Blum Foundation, Stiles Colwill, the Miller Family Gift Fund, Nancy Kohn Rabin and the Joseph Smelkinson Foundation. As the cavalry needed it’s sutler for all its essential supplies, we relied on this exceptional group of philanthropists to achieve our “battlefield” objective.
~Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director
The 2nd South Carolina String Band
The opening of Passages through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War came in two parts. At our special members’ preview on Saturday night, we enjoyed the music of the 2nd South Carolina String Band, a band of musical re-enactors. They played throughout the night which helped set the mood. To enhance the evening refreshments included Civil War-era punch, which was enjoyed by all. In addition, two students from the Baltimore School for the Arts attended in period costume which enhanced the event ambiance.
Baltimore School for the Arts Students
On Sunday we launched the exhibit’s public opening. The highlight of the day was a talk by Jonathan Karp who travelled from New York. As one of the exhibition’s curators, Jonathan provided fascinating insights on the development of the exhibit. We also welcomed two Civil War re-enactors, who came in full dress. They enjoyed talking to visitors about the different elements and significance of the details of their outfits.
Interacting with a re-enactor!
Opening By the Numbers
Exploring the exhibit
Saturday evening attendance: 105 members and guests
Sunday public opening attendance: 91 people
Total attendance for both days: 196
Total Admission from Sunday: $335
Zip Code most represented in our attendance log: 21208
Karen gives a special Curator’s Tour
An activity station
Our members came out in large numbers for Sunday’s opening which was also heavily attended by non-members who had previously visited the JMM. This reflects positively on the Museum’s marketing efforts with our membership and with the public in general about the opening. Our tag line “explore the Civil War you never knew” seems to have successfully appealed to people who were enticed to visit on opening day. In addition to the new exhibit, members and individuals who had previously visited were excited to have the opportunity to hear Jonathan Karp speak as well as follow on the 1861 synagogue tour. We were also delighted to see family groups in attendance and children had a wonderful time interacting with the educational stations set up in the exhibit.
Our stereo-graph activity station
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 June 14th, 2013 by Rachel
The JMM Board Renews Itself
Last Sunday’s Annual Meeting of the Jewish Museum of Maryland marked the beginning of a new annual cycle for the Board. Outgoing trustees were thanked and a new slate of officers elected.
It seems like such a natural course of events, that it is easy to forget just how exceptional the work of a non-profit Board like ours is. The 27 current Board members (as well as 10 former Board presidents) volunteer their time, energy and financial resources to advance the cause of the Museum, without expectation of personal reward or advancement. They do this because they care deeply about Baltimore’s Jewish past, but also because they are committed to strengthening our future.
The new leadership of the Board includes Dr. Ira Papel, President. At the annual meeting Dr. Papel spoke to the core mission of the museum, “The Jewish Museum of Maryland is a unique institution serving the greater Maryland community. Not only is it a depository of archival information, but a resource to place our past and present cultures in a context to understand the role of the Jewish community in Maryland over hundreds of years. It is always fascinating to look back and see how different generations coped with the challenges of their times. We are fortunate that so much information has been saved, and therefore made available to us through facilities like the JMM.”
Dr. Papel is joined in the slate of officers by Vice Presidents Jeff Dreifuss, Robert Keehn and Duke Zimmerman and by the new treasurer, JL Reischer and Secretary Sarah Manekin. After two years of exceptional service as leader of the Board, Larry Caplan will continue to be part of the Executive Committee in the role of Immediate Past President. Officers are elected each year, but the President is typically renewed for a second year and other officers may serve up to six consecutive years.
New members of the class of 2016 were Jennie Gates Beckman, Manager of Civic Engagement and Repair the World Programming at the Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies; Jay Goldscher, CEO of HBP/Whitmore, a leader in the printing and graphics industry; and Ira Malis, who just recently retired as Director of Institutional Sales at Stifel Nicolaus and Co. Members were elected to three-year terms. Arnold Fruman of National Lumber Co. also accepted a one-year Presidential appointment to extend his service.
In addition to the Annual Meeting and quarterly Board meetings, there are six Executive Committee meetings scheduled for the year ahead. Much of the work of the Board is actually managed through the eight committees that recommend policies, seek resources and network the Museum with the community. Major committees include Development, Programs, Finance, Collections, Facilities, Marketing and Audit. There is a plan to split the Board Development Committee in the year ahead into a dedicated Nominating Committee and a Committee on Board Engagement. In FY 2013 we had task forces working on Accreditation, Membership and the Futures Committee and we are likely to create new groups to meet the challenges of the year ahead.
For a small museum, Board commitment is key. This year’s Board leadership campaign exceeded $91,000 – double the funds raised just three years ago. Equally important, the Board has taken strides towards 100% participation in the campaign. Board members are increasing their visibility as ambassadors for the Museum and bringing in new friends to multiply our strength.
2013 built a great foundation for the new year to come…the inaugural meeting of the new Board and officers is this July 15th.