Performance Counts – January 2014

Posted on January 10th, 2014 by


At last count the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) had 82 members, from the Alaska Jewish Museum and Cultural Center in Anchorage to the Zimmer Children’s Museum in Los Angeles.  CAJM includes a handful of accredited history and art museum, like the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and dozens of institutions that in some ways share characteristics with museums as centers for culture in their respective communities.  These include galleries at JCCs, Holocaust museums and centers, synagogue museums, and community archives. CAJM aims to strengthen the field of Jewish museums by serving as a central body for information exchange, professional development, and advocacy.

cajm logoJMM has played an important role in the development of CAJM for more than two decades.  Today, Deborah Cardin serves as Vice Chair of the organization.  The Chair of CAJM is former JMM curator, Melissa Martens Yaverbaum and the Treasurer of CAJM is Avi Decter.  While every institution that belongs to CAJM has a unique mission and a distinctive audience, the opportunity for sharing ideas in this cultural community remains very valuable to us.

Each year CAJM holds an annual conference in some part of the United States bringing together its diverse body of professionals.  This year the organization is taking a year off from the usual museum conference format to hold what we are calling a “Retreat/Forward” at the Bon Secours Retreat and Conference Center, here in Marriottsville, MD from March 23 to 25.  Though it is not quite Baltimore, JMM is serving as the official host institution (with Marvin Pinkert taking a leadership role as host chair).  Since the “Retreat/Forward” is open to staff, trustees and Museum volunteers (that is, most of you who receive the Performance Counts newsletter), we thought we would share the link to the event with all of you.

The brochure is located at

The brochure is located HERE. 

The program will feature:

•  Cutting-edge thinkers and practitioners on participatory culture and emergent learning trends

• Frank discussions about audience expectations, civic engagement, and changing community structures

• Workshops, charettes, and small group discussions that will make the retreat an engaging, active experience for all participants

• A dance demonstration and group exercise by MacArthur Fellow Liz Lerman, founder of Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, and a lively talk, “From Holy Land to Graceland,” by former Walters Art Museum Director Gary Vikan

•  Remarks from Ford W. Bell, President of the American Alliance of Museums; Marsha Semmel, former Acting Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services; and Steven M. Cohen, advisor to the recent Pew Research Center study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans”

Single day registration as well as full conference registration are available at the website.


Not all of our collaborations with other Jewish museums happen at conferences.  Next month we celebrate the role of Lincoln and the Jews in the Civil War.  In addition to Passages Through the Fire:  Jews and the Civil War, we will be using our orientation plaza to display Jewish Life in Mr. Lincoln’s City, an exhibit developed by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.

Check out our upcoming programs HERE.

Check out our upcoming February programs HERE.

We will share exhibits and we will also “exchange” directors.  Laura Apelbaum, Executive Director of JHSGW will speak on Lincoln at JMM on the afternoon of February 9th and she is bringing a tour group from her Board, staff and volunteers with her.  Ten days later, Marvin Pinkert will head down to the JHSGW’s Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum to give his final presentation on Jews and the Civil War.

You may have noticed that we now carry news about the Small Museum to our membership through Museum Matters and Laura distributes information about upcoming programs at JMM.  It’s just one of the ways that it is better not to be alone.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Performance Counts: December 2013

Posted on December 13th, 2013 by


In a November 26 article in the Jewish Times I was quoted as saying that at a small museum “you have to spend more energy making sure you’re on the map.”  We are using this issue of Performance Counts to update you on some of our efforts to make ourselves better known.

Speaking of Maps

3047_002Last month the Greater Baltimore History Alliance published a new map of historical sites in metro Baltimore and it’s just the latest tool for visitor’s to navigate the region’s rich historic landscape.  Historic Jonestown has its own block of color on the map (we think the color is Raven’s purple) reflecting the density of historic attractions within a five block radius.  We are dues-paying members of the Greater Baltimore History Alliance (GBHA) and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance (GBCA) not just because we have a place in their geography, but because our regular meetings with other Baltimore cultural institutions inspire partnerships and collaborations.  At one GBHA meeting this summer, JMM entered into a conversation with the National Electronics Museum (at first you might think this the ultimate “odd couple”).  But now a joint project is emerging next summer to bring a community tech and engineering fair to JMM, a show that combines some great artifacts in our collection (sewing machines, typewriters etc.) with hand-on DIY tech activities for the whole family.  We are also part of BNHA (the Baltimore National Heritage Area) which recently developed a conceptual planning “map” for this federally recognized district.  This interpretive plan for the Heritage Area opens up the road to eventual project funding for JMM.  From our perspective, this is a wonderful development – so many aspects of the interpretive plan – “defining America’s identity”, documenting the “immigrants influx”, securing “religious freedom” overlap with our core mission.

Circulator Map

One map of increased importance to us as our attendance grows is Baltimore’s Circulator map.  We noticed this last summer an up-tick in people reporting that they reached our doors by free bus rather than by car.  It is a significant asset to not only be on the Circulator map – but to be a named location on the route.  Thousands of people each day first here about us when the audio recording on the bus calls out: “next stop, Jewish Museum of Maryland”.

A “Map” for Donors

Of course, it’s not just visitors that need to find us.  We need to get into the philanthropic map of the community as well.  This mainly involves developing the network of contacts that allow us to make our case to those who share a passion for our mission.  A lot of this effort is centered on personal contact.  But to back up that personal contact we’ve really needed materials that describe the museum.  In the last month we had a major advance on this front.  Working with the design team at the firm of Gallagher and Associates (a pro bono contribution to JMM), we have created a new generation of collateral material that matches the new vision the Board approved in fall 2012.

3048_001The theme of this collateral material is “{Find Yourself Here}” – a message about inclusion and community that speaks to the soul of the institution.  The first step in our effort was to create a descriptive brochure about JMM as a place of Discovery, Discourse, and Documentation and as a Destination for thousands of visitors.  The descriptive piece also has a matching folder – our old plain purple folders may have described our football loyalties, but didn’t really say much about the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

The next step will be creating single page sheets on upcoming opportunities for funding that match the brochure and folder, and finally a video clip that can be embedded in a Power Point presentation or inserted in the folder.

We expect to have a presentation of our case that reflects the true quality of the underlying museum and that’s the place where we want to be on the “map.”

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Performance Counts October 2013

Posted on October 18th, 2013 by

A Token of Our Appreciation

A special treat!

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.

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


Opening Highlights

The 2nd South Carolina String Band

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

Baltimore School for the Arts Students

Jonathan Karp

Jonathan Karp

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!

Interacting with a re-enactor!

Opening By the Numbers

Exploring the exhibit

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

Karen gives a special Curator’s Tour

Attendance Observation

An activity station

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

Our stereo-graph activity station

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

« Previous PageNext Page »