Travels with Mendes

Posted on July 23rd, 2014 by

My husband and kids were having a wonderful time on their first day of vacation in San Francisco. They had visited the Japanese Tea Garden, hung out with an old friend of my husband’s and dined on dumplings in Chinatown. And then my husband, Jonathan, called with a crisis. “We forgot to pack Flat Mendes” he announced sadly.

For those of you unfamiliar, Flat Mendes is a paper doll cutout of one of Maryland’s most accomplished Jew and the subject of an upcoming exhibition, The A-mazing Mendes Cohen (opening September 14). Because the real life Mendes spent three years as an intrepid traveler throughout Europe and the Middle East, we have created a virtual Mendes so that he can continue his travels in the 21st century visiting places he may have visited more than 150 years ago and places that we are sure he would have loved to had he had the chance.  For the Cardin-Willis Family, this meant bringing Flat Mendes with us to California and photographing him in every iconic spot we could find.

Flat Mendes

Flat Mendes

But first, we had to overcome this crisis. My husband and children flew out to San Francisco while the laminated version of Mendes was in Baltimore. Fortunately, I knew how to resolve this problem and directed Jonathan to a downloadable version of Flat Mendes on the JMM website. (You can do this too, go to http://jewishmuseummd.org/2014/06/flat-mendes/). Because the hotel did not have a color printer, my ever resourceful husband stopped at CVS, bought some crayons and the girls had fun coloring him in.

Jonathan and Mendes

Jonathan and Mendes

Then the fun really began. Mendes fit in quite a bit in his one-week jaunt through California.

First stop, Alcatraz, the famed prison off the coast of San Francisco. Here he excitedly holds his own ticket.

First stop, Alcatraz, the famed prison off the coast of San Francisco. Here he excitedly holds his own ticket.

Behind Bars - While the real life Mendes did have a brush with the law when he was fined for violating Virginia law by selling out of state lottery tickets there, thankfully, he never actually did time in prison.

Behind Bars – While the real life Mendes did have a brush with the law when he was fined for violating Virginia law by selling out of state lottery tickets there, thankfully, he never actually did time in prison.

Mendes enjoyed his trip up hilly San Francisco streets traveling by cable car.

Mendes enjoyed his trip up hilly San Francisco streets traveling by cable car.

Mendes even made some new friends!

Mendes even made some new friends!

With the Willis girls as his guide, Mendes got in some exercise biking over the Golden Gate Bridge. We have records of Mendes traveling by boat, train and horse but this mode of transport was surely a first for him.

With the Willis girls as his guide, Mendes got in some exercise biking over the Golden Gate Bridge. We have records of Mendes traveling by boat, train and horse but this mode of transport was surely a first for him.

 What better way to refresh after a long and arduous bike ride then with a stop at San Francisco’s beloved Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory. Mendes proved to be quite the San Francisco fan and even picked up a souvenir baseball hat.

What better way to refresh after a long and arduous bike ride then with a stop at San Francisco’s beloved Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory. Mendes proved to be quite the San Francisco fan and even picked up a souvenir baseball hat.

On the way down the coast, Mendes stopped to admire the beauty of California’s Redwood trees.

On the way down the coast, Mendes stopped to admire the beauty of California’s Redwood trees.

I met Jonathan, Madeline and Julia in Pismo Beach, CA, along California’s central coast where we had a blast taking surfing lessons. Mendes had to get in the action too. I think he may have even started a new surfing trend. The next day we saw many surfing dudes wearing turbans!

I met Jonathan, Madeline and Julia in Pismo Beach, CA, along California’s central coast where we had a blast taking surfing lessons. Mendes had to get in the action too. I think he may have even started a new surfing trend. The next day we saw many surfing dudes wearing turbans!

Mendes’s final adventure was kayaking in Morro Bay where he enjoyed viewing sea lions and otters.

Mendes’s final adventure was kayaking in Morro Bay where he enjoyed viewing sea lions and otters.

Mendes is now home in Baltimore recuperating from jet lag. But he will soon be ready for new adventures and we can’t wait to see where else he goes!

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts by Deborah, click HERE.

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An Intern Prepares for Electrified Pickle

Posted on June 30th, 2014 by

Hi! My name is Arielle and I’m working at the Jewish Museum of Maryland this summer as an Education and Programming intern.  After two weeks on the job, I can honestly say that I’ve learned way more than I can write.  From observing tours, to working with visitors, to learning how to use Past Perfect, to attending meetings, to planning exhibits, this job has been quite a ride.  In addition, its also been a lot of fun!  I love the work that I’m doing at the museum.  Plus, the people that I’m working with make it even more fun and rewarding.  The community of staff and volunteers at the museum has been incredibly welcoming.  They are so phenomenal at what they do and they are great teachers when it comes to learning how a museum works.

“Intern Wrangler” and Senior Collections Manager Jobi taught all the interns how to handle collections items. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with this artifact – an eye glass case used by Optometrists back in the day – and prepare it for display.

“Intern Wrangler” and Senior Collections Manager Jobi taught all the interns how to handle collections items. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with this artifact – an eye glass case used by Optometrists back in the day – and prepare it for display.

On the job I’ve gotten to play a part in so many awesome upcoming things that will be taking place at the museum both this summer and this fall.  After sitting in on several meetings regarding the Electrified Pickle exhibit and helping put together the set of collections items that will be on display, I can honestly say that the exhibit which will be opening on July 13 is going to be amazing!  Among other themes, the exhibit deals with the Jewish relationship with technology and how it’s progressed over the years.  The topic is very engaging and the collections items we’ve gathered to show on display are fascinating. The exhibit should be very educational and I know we have several exciting programs coming up that will be going along with the exhibit!

As an intern I never expected to have such an important say in the planning of an exhibit, but the JMM is unique because I think it really trusts its interns and treats us like members of the staff.  From this trust and responsibility, I have loved stepping up to the plate and learning by doing, instead of learning by watching.  I have gained so much by attending these exhibition planning meetings and researching artifacts. I can’t wait to help build the exhibit over the next two weeks and watch its success when it opens.

Looking at photographs on the computer program Past Perfect, trying to find the perfect photo to display in the “Electrified Pickle” exhibit.

Looking at photographs on the computer program Past Perfect, trying to find the perfect photo to display in the “Electrified Pickle” exhibit

In addition to helping plan the “Electrified Pickle”, I have also been given the opportunity to work on projects regarding the upcoming exhibit “The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen” which opens on September 14, and the chance to help organize the museum’s upcoming Holocaust Summer Teacher’s Institute. It has been a very fun and rewarding process doing both of these things and I can’t wait for the rest of the summer to see how much more I learn!

So, that all being said, I hope you stop by the museum this upcoming summer to check out the “Electrified Pickle” and come back again in the fall to see “The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen.”  I promise you won’t be disappointed! They should be both “Electrifying” and “Ahhh-mazing!” Hehe, get it?

So many Mendes, So little time! Be sure to come back in the fall to meet The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen yourself!

So many Mendes, So little time! Be sure to come back in the fall to meet The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen yourself!

You can even download your OWN Flat Mendes here or pick one up at the front desk next time you visit the Museum!

The Jewish Museum of Maryland is an amazing place and so far I couldn’t be happier spending my summer working as an intern here.

A blog post by Education and Programming Intern Arrielle Kaden. To read more posts by and about JMM interns, click here.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Amazing Partnerships at the JMM!

Posted on June 18th, 2014 by

Partnerships are something that we take seriously at the JMM and many of our programs and initiatives are conducted in collaboration with other institutions. We frequently work with other museums to develop and promote programs and we belong to such networks as the Greater Baltimore History Alliance (www.baltimoremuseums.org) and the Council of American Jewish Museums (www.cajm.net) which foster collaboration among member organizations.

Our next major original exhibition, The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen, takes the concept of partnerships to new heights.

Opening September 14th - but you can start following Mendes and his travels now on Facebook!

Opening September 14th – but you can start following Mendes and his travels now on Facebook!

We are developing the exhibition as a joint project with the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS). As the MdHS is the custodian of many important artifacts and documents relating to Mendes Cohen, including the dozens of letters he wrote home during his travels, this partnership is truly a win/win for both organizations.

The JMM is incredibly grateful to the Burt Kummerow, director of MHS, and his staff for all of their assistance with this project. Jobi Zink and I recently had the great pleasure of meeting with Eben Dennis (job title) who showed us many of the artifacts we are hoping to display in the exhibit.

Travel Firman, courtesy of Maryland Historical Society.

Travel Firman, courtesy of Maryland Historical Society.

After spending so much time looking at reproductions of such objects as the firman that Mendes received from the Ottoman Empire which granted him the right to officially visit Palestine as a tourist (becoming the first American to receive such an honor), I was blown away by seeing the actual piece of paper with its Arabic script. The size of the document is hard to conceive especially when thinking about the pocket sized nature of today’s travel documents. Mendes wrote about his pride in receiving this document and in a letter published by a Baltimore paper in 1831, he wrote, ““I have just received my Firman . It is very full and explicit, to give me aid, supply my wants, &c, through my travels. It is written . . . on a sheet of paper about two feet and a half square [original italics] the size of the paper constituting, in some measure, its importance. . . . When it is presented to a Turk, he respects it by bowing, putting forward his head, and kissing the Sultan’s signature at the top of the paper. This necessary document I have received very promptly from Constantinople, an evidence of the dispatch given to our affairs there by our new Charge. It is, I believe, the first American Firman which has been issued, our countrymen heretofore having been obliged to procure them through the English Ambassador.”

Although The A-mazing Mendes Cohen does not open at the JMM until September 14, 2014, for those who cannot wait until then to learn more about this fascinating individual be sure to check out MdHS’s current exhibit In Full Glory Reflected: Maryland During the War of 1812.The exhibit includes such wonderful artifacts as the epaulets and hat that Mendes took to wearing many years after his participation in the War of 1812.

epaulettes

Mendes’ epaulets

Mendes' hat

Mendes’ hat

deborahA blog post by Assistant Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah, click here. To read more posts about Mendes Cohen, click here.

 

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