Greetings from Exhibitions!

Posted on June 15th, 2012 by

Hi everyone! My name is Meryl Feinstein and I am the newest Exhibitions Intern here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. As a recent Art History graduate from Brandeis University, the majority of my previous experience in the museum field has been art-related. Most recently, I was very lucky to have the opportunity to work at Brandeis’s hidden gem: The Rose Art Museum. The Rose harbors one of the best – if not the best – modern and contemporary art collections in New England. From Picasso and Chagall to de Kooning and Warhol, the Rose has it all! To some of you, the name may ring a bell if you’ve heard about the university’s recent movement to close the museum’s doors, the threat to sell its collection in light of severe economic trials, or the lawsuit that followed. Yet thanks to tremendous support and protest from faculty, staff, and students, I am thrilled to say that the Rose reopened its doors to the public this past fall to an audience of thousands and is in the process of organizing an exciting series of exhibitions for the coming year! I learned so much working in a small, close-knit institution and was able – for the first time – to engage with objects behind-the-scenes, witness an exhibition’s installation, and offer my own input throughout the process. I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in the greater Boston area.

 

Photo: The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University

 

My experience at the Rose – in addition to others – has in large part landed me here at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. It was at the Rose that I really discovered my love of studying, handling, and researching objects. Though the content of this collection is very different than that of the Rose, I am delighted to become a part of the JMM team and continue my learning experience. I have already begun working on some fascinating research for a potential exhibition regarding the Jewish connection to the medical field in Maryland. The big questions we’re thinking about are quite simple: Why are Jews so consistently associated with medical professions? Is this association true or myth? Why are Jews so often drawn to the field? What unique intersections between Jews and medicine have occurred (and are occurring) in Maryland? We’re still in the very beginning stages of figuring out our focus, but we’ve uncovered some pretty incredible finds in our collection alone (including the contents of an entire doctor’s office from the early 20th century and a dentist’s engagement ring with a molar in lieu of a stone)!

 

Plasticine “engagement” ring with inset “molar,” made by Edmund Kahn, c. 1905.

 

If you have any questions, comments, and/or stories regarding Jews and medicine in Maryland – the topic includes physicians, pharmacists, dentists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and nurses as well as breakthrough medical inventions and research  – please do let us know. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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From the Archives…

Posted on June 14th, 2012 by

Shalom, my name is Leslie McNamara, and I am an archival intern at the JMM.  In the second week of my internship, I have already started processing incoming collections which means that I organize and provide a description of archival collections to help aid potential researchers.  I am currently working on a collection that contains a significant amount of material on Beth Shalom Congregation inFrederick,Md.  While processing this collection, I have learned that until the early 1920’s, the members of Beth Shalom did not have a synagogue of their own to fulfill their religious and communal needs until the donation of a building that had previously been an Elks Lodge by Leo Wineberg, a prominent lawyer of Frederick, Md.

 

 

Also, I am completing inventory of over-sized archives such as magazines, drawings or paintings, and legal documents.  While doing inventory, I found an anti-semetic illustration from May 11, 1881 entitled “A Hint to the Hebrews” which depicts a floating island of Jewish vacationers staying at the “Hotel du Jerusalem,” just off theshoreofAmericawhich has hotels discriminating against Jews.

 

 

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Glass Like Water: Fact or Fiction in Antique Windows

Posted on June 12th, 2012 by

A blog post by Karen Bishop, Archaeology Intern

One of the first things I noticed walking into the main floor of the Lloyd Street Synagogue were the windows. Not the colorful, glowing, starburst-patterned stained glass windows above the ark, but the rippled square windows on the side walls. Whenever I see antique glass I always think, “wow, this building is really old,” and I feel like a lot of other people have that thought, too. The appearance of old windows has always fascinated me: the variance in transparency and wavy patterns look like a suspended liquid. In fact, I was always of the belief that glass actually was a liquid. That’s why the bottom of stained glass in medieval cathedrals is thicker than the top, and why centuries old homes have river-like patterns running down the windows. When I went to research the liquid properties of glass to explain the appearance of the LSS windows, however, I found out that glass is in fact not a liquid, this is just a myth. 

The truth is that if you were to examine the thickness of cathedral glass or appearance of home windows when they were installed hundreds of years ago, you would make the same observations. The variances observed today are simply a result of the methods used to make glass ‘back in the day’. Glassmakers used hand-blown techniques that made it impossible to achieve a perfectly smooth, even texture. Glass is noticeably thicker at the bottom likely because it was easier to install it that way. However, there is some truth to the thought of glass being a slow moving liquid. Glass is an amorphous solid: when molten glass cools, the molecules retain the random patterns of the liquid state, but the bonds formed are strong, like that of a solid. The nature of glass still baffles scientists, though, so it’s no surprise this myth is so widespread.

If you would like to know more about the nature of glass and the exciting debate about it within the realm of scientific research (because I know you all do!), you can read the New York Times article The Nature of Glass Remains Anything but Clear.

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