Posted on June 20th, 2014 by Rachel
15 Years By the Numbers
For this week’s newsletter, I asked Jobi Zink to try to summarize her history with JMM. In the spirit of this “Performance Counts”, Jobi has elected to tell her own story “by the numbers”. On behalf of all our Board members, staff, interns and volunteers, we wish Jobi every success and to let her know that she will be #1 with us forever.
As many of you know, I am leaving the Jewish Museum of Maryland in July. I will be moving to Philadelphia to take the position of Registrar at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. I am sad to say goodbye to my friends and favorite objects, but I am looking forward to this new chapter in my career.
Since making my announcement, I have heard from staff, board, volunteers, and colleagues outside of the JMM about the impact I’ve made on the museum. I thought I would reflect on what I consider to be some of my major accomplishments over my tenure.
Number of Accessions: The first batch recorded in the accession notebook in my handwriting is 1999.037; since then 3,037 new donations have been made to the museum. Of course, over the 60 quarterly meetings that I’ve attended, the Collections Committee hasn’t accepted every single batch—they’ve done a diligent job sticking to materials that truly meet the JMM mission.
Number of Objects in the Collection: 10,954. Ironically, 10,000 was the number of objects believed to be in the JMM collections when I started. I am not sure what this early estimate is based on, and whether it included photographs or archival documents. When I organized the first collections inventory in 2000 (really more of a collections count), we discovered that we really had closer to 5,000 3-D artifacts.
Inventories Conducted: 5. Since that initial collections count in 2000, I have overseen 4 additional collections inventories that have each included portions of the archival and photograph collections. I also spoke about our triennial inventory project and procedures for the panel Inventory: Intimidating! Important! But NOT Impossible! at the 2012 MAAM Annual Conference.
Number of Hats Worn: I’ve never actually worn any of the hats in the JMM collection. On the other hand, I’ve worn a decided number of professional hats. I’ve had four official job titles during my tenure at JMM: Curatorial Assistant; Registrar & Curatorial Assistant; Senior Collections Manager; Acting Building Manager. I’m personally a bit partial to the five unofficial job titles held at the JMM: Queen of Traveling Exhibitions (Traveling Exhibitions Coordinator); Intern Wrangler (Internship Coordinator); Emergency Management Coordinator; Building Manager; Entertainment Committee Co-Chair. These unofficial titles reflect both the fun and serious sides of the JMM and also truly prove that the JMM is a dynamic place where no two days are ever the same.
Kind of hard to believe that its pure coincidence that I wore pink on the day of the earthquake in August 2012… and it matched my hard-hat perfectly.
Number of Archivists: 6. Ginny, Abby, Robin, Erin, Jon & Jennifer. 6 Collections Assistants –David, Karen H., Deborah, Olivia, Renee, Danyelle, and Chris—(though I suspect I have accidentally forgotten someone!) have also come and gone from that “back cubicle.” All of them have made my registration work and collections management that much easier to control! I thank you all!
Many people, one title
Number of Skits for Outgoing Employees: 9 (Leah, Erin, Lauren, Melissa, Avi’s retirement plus his surprise 65th birthday party that he nearly missed; Simone x 2, Anita). While a registrar loves to live by the rules, sometimes we just need to be silly. As the Co-Chair of the Entertainment Committee, I probably put in 10 hours of seriously fun work for each production. And let us be clear, some of these skits were full-blown productions.
Check out that set piece!
Number Pencils Retired: 229. Registrar’s love their pencils! What started as an experiment in June 2006 to see if I could use one pencil from start to finish without losing it has become a slight obsession. Number of pencils on my registration spreadsheet: 444. Most pencils retired in one month: 9. Maximum length for retired pencils: 2” from point to the metal cuff. Number of admitted pencil enthusiasts inducted into the club: 2.
That’s nearly 2 FULL jars of retired stubs!
Number of JT Photos 329 different photographs have been featured in the “Once Upon a Time” and “Snapshots” columns of the Jewish Times. And to date, 213 (64.7%) of these photos have been at least partially identified! This project is nearly as satisfying as retiring a pencil!
Once Upon a Time…
Number of Exhibitions. I’ve worked on 27 different full-gallery exhibitions—whether it was researching, curating, overseeing the installation, or coordinating the rentals. And in a close second place, I’ve worked with 26 different lobby exhibits either at the JMM or at an offsite location. Some of these exhibits highlighted select objects from our collections in conjunction with a program while others involved considerable skills in constructing an allegedly simple structure and hanging numerous art pieces. I’ve also travelled our various exhibitions to 50 venues across the state and as far away as the Spertus Museum in Chicago. The most memorable installation by far was installing We Call This Place Home in St. Mary’s County and discovering that the U-Haul we rented not only didn’t have working breaks but had been reported as stolen!
Number of Objects in a Single Exhibition. 1124. I didn’t even have to look that stat up, I still remember installing them all in Tchotchkes! Treasures of the Family Museum.
Oh how young and innocent I appear.
Boyfriends. 143. Although I got married in 2003, I had 143 “dates” between 2007-2008. Most of these were actually meetings with World War II veterans or their family members to gather photographs in conjunction with Ours to Fight For and lasted approximately 15 minutes, though a few did involve a corned beef sandwich at Attman’s.
Mervin Fribush and Jacob Matz are two of my WWII veteran boyfriends.
Interns. Since starting the official internship program in 2006, we’ve offered 106 internships and I’ve personally supervised 28 collections management interns. That’s an awful lot of wrangling! Not only have I helped train the next generation of museum professionals, but I’ve coordinated field trips, workshops, and activities to introduce the interns to the varied world of museums.
Just last week I received the highest compliment from a colleague in the field who said, “I know that when an intern has the Jewish Museum of Maryland on their resume that they will come in knowing how to handle objects, use the database, and be ready for whatever task comes their way.”
Magic Number. 15. Number of years I have been at the JMM. Also, an address I will always remember.
 I have definitely missed a few quarterly meetings over the years, (I can’t believe I missed the meeting when Gina H. announced that she was pregnant with twins!) but my attendance record is pretty good.
March 2014. Apparently I found a bunch of previously used pencils and made it my mission to retire as many as possible. Prior to that, six was the most.
 I had planned on writing a blog post “Tips for Traveling Exhibitions: Do not rent a stolen truck!” but ran out of time. Feel free to ask Karen Falk or Darrell Monteagudo for the details.
 Some interns have done more than one internship at the JMM, working on different projects and even in different departments.
To read past issues of Performance Counts, click here.
Posted on May 16th, 2014 by Rachel
In the past few months you have read quite a bit about our current and upcoming exhibits: Project Mah Jongg, the Electrified Pickle, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen and Jews, Health and Healing. We also are preparing for some wonderful events including the 8th Annual Herbert H. and Irma B. Risch program this Sunday, featuring Rabbi Marvin Tokayer and our June 1 Annual Meeting with Dr. Len Saxe.
Yet even as we busily engage in the business of creating, funding and presenting these exciting current projects, we still keep one eye focused on the road ahead. You will recall that in the fall of 2012 the Board’s ad hoc “Futures Committee” produced a new vision document for the Jewish Museum of Maryland. The vision reinforced our focus on some of the attributes that make a museum successful, the so-called “four Ds”: destination, documentation, discourse and discovery. This vision has guided us in much of what’s been accomplished in the last eighteen months – the doubling of our public hours, the dramatic growth in our attendance, the strengthened relationship with The Associated, our reaccreditation by the American Alliance of Museums and even the painful decisions that have led us to a balanced budget in FY ’14.
This summer we will enter into a second phase of institutional planning. A new ad hoc “Planning Committee” will be formed with the goal of diving into the next level of the question “What is the Jewish Museum of Maryland?”. The concept is to build on the work from 2012. For example, we have made the commitment to focus on becoming a destination – now we’ll ask the question, “what are the distinguishing features of that destination?”. How are we similar or different from other Jewish museums? from other Baltimore museums? How do we make the most of our unique assets? This stage of planning will be critical as we look ahead to the way we develop our core environment, the historic synagogues and our permanent or signature exhibit.
Simultaneously with this search for “who we are?”, we are launching a second planning process this summer that seeks to answer the question “how do we fit in?”. This neighborhood vision/plan is being conducted in partnership with The Associated and in conjunction with the Jonestown Planning Council. As an anchor institution of historic Jonestown, JMM is a key stakeholder in the future development of our community. The success of the museum is ultimately dependent on what is built around us, not just on what we build. JMM has contracted with the firm of Mahan Rykiel to serve as our consultant for a planning process that will attempt to understand the needs and interests of current residents and businesses, the downtown Jewish community, and the potential museum audience to craft a compelling vision of what this area might become. Mahan Rykiel will also work with JMM, The Associated and the community to give some thought to the “branding” of Jonestown and its identity as a great place to live, work, play and visit.
Both planning processes are open to your thoughts. We will speak to many people over the next few months, but you don’t have to wait for us to call, you can hit the “reply” button to share your ideas.
This month’s Performance Counts was written by Executive Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts by Marvin, click here. To read past issues of Performance Counts, click here.
Posted on April 11th, 2014 by Rachel
READY FOR OUR CLOSE UP
Some of you may have been pleasantly surprised last Sunday morning as the JMM made its (very short) debut on national television with CBS Sunday Morning. You can view their “Mah Jongg Madness” piece online here. Pay close attention just before the 2:00 minute mark for our on-screen appearance! Successful marketing and publicity is a combination of hard work, inspiration and, honestly, luck. With CBS Sunday Morning and Project Mah Jongg, luck was certainly on our side, but it’s the hard work that’s brought us such a great crop of local publicity.
Leisure-class ladies playing a floating game of mah jongg, 1924.
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Many thanks go to Rochelle Eisenberg, the public relations manager we work with at The Associated. Her efforts on our behalf are unparalleled – maybe you saw us on the front page of The Baltimore Sun’s Arts & Entertainment section on Sunday (who can resist our pool-playing mah jongg mavens?). The lovely article by Mary Carole McCauley, which you can read here, wouldn’t have come about without Rochelle’s tireless work.
Perhaps you saw the wonderful cover story by Heather Norris in the Baltimore Jewish Times, which you can also read here. That story has been shared with the Washington Jewish Week and will be run in Pittsburgh’s Jewish Chronicle! The Baltimore Beacon also ran a lovely exhibit preview in March.
If that’s not enough Project Mah Jongg reading for you, Marvin has also written a great post on Mah Jongg and Cultural Adaptation, currently published on The Associated’s blog. UMBC, home of the exhibit’s sound designer, Tim Nohe, has also been calling attention to the exhibit. Then there’s the post over on AsAmNews, “What’s a mah jong exhibit doing at a Jewish Museum?” It seems lots of folks are just as excited as we are about Project Mah Jongg!
But we’re not resting on our laurels! Capitalizing on the interest in the exhibit we’ve arranged an aggressive marketing campaign. In the week leading up to the opening (and with some helpful bonus spots – thanks to our account agent over at WMAR), we ran ads on ABC2 morning programs to reach out to our local audience. And in addition to our normal membership mailing, we sent postcard invitations to the Jewish population of Northwest Baltimore and Owings Mills.
Now that the exhibit has opened we are keeping the momentum going. If you attend any upcoming shows at Centerstage, the Hippodrome, Everyman Theater or the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, keep an eye out for our ads in the program! And of course we are publicizing the exhibit and its related programming through our Facebook pages, twitter feed, website and emails like these – so be sure you’ve “liked” us and followed us and share our events and emails with anyone you think would enjoy Project Mah Jongg. And, in our opinion, everyone will enjoy this delightful exhibit!
This month’s Performance Counts was written by Rachel Kassman, Marketing Manager (and web maven!)