Upgrades to the Visitor Experience

Posted on March 30th, 2016 by

As I was reading Creating Great Visitor Experiences: A Guide for Museums, Parks, Zoos, Gardens, & Libraries by Stephanie Weaver, it got me thinking how we could make improvements to the visitor experience at the JMM.  The book encouraged me to take a new look at the museum from the visitor’s point of view beginning with the moment that he or she decided to visit, through the orientation at the front desk to finding comfort in our facilities and finally leaving with both tangible (such as merchandise from the shop) and intangibles (knowledge and a sense of discovery).

book cover

book cover

I found that a lot of what was mentioned in the book we are already doing. For instance, we always try to welcome visitors with a smile, positive attitude and relevant information.  We also strive to have a clean work space, restrooms and fresh merchandise visible from the entrance. I will also continue to ask our security contractor if we may choose guards with outdoing, service-based personalities to work at our site. Our management has also doing an excellent job investing in the staff by encouraging us to attend relevant conferences and webinars.

Esther's Place - now with signage!

Esther’s Place – now with signage!

However, there were a few things that needed changing or updating. After listening through some of the recorded information on our phone system, I found some outdated information so I got that updated to reflect our current exhibit and upcoming programs. Stephanie Weaver emphasized the importance of having an inviting entrance. Partly as a result, next time you visit, you’ll notice that our front courtyard area has been re-landscaped to include more attractive shrubs and flowers.  I am also going to make some changes to front desk handbook so that all our front desk volunteers know how to effectively provide excellent customer service so that our visitors will want to come back again and again.

A little sprucing for spring

A little sprucing for spring

We have also made a few other changes that tie in nicely with our accessibility efforts. Large-print brochures and Braille text for the Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America (http://chickensoupexhibit.org/) exhibit, are now available for check-out at the front desk. As I learned that wayfinding is important, we have installed a new ADA restroom sign and welcome sign for the Medicine exhibit in the lobby area. I have also installed new seating to allow our visitors, whether it’s a mother with small children or an elderly couple, to rest while they explore our exhibits.

Accessibility is important!

Accessibility is important!

There are also a few things which we may consider doing in the future such as visitor surveys, upgrades to our restrooms and new graphics by the front desk. As always, if you have any suggestions or feedback, don’t hesitate to contact me at ghumphrey@jewishmuseummd.org.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Reflections on Paul Simon

Posted on January 21st, 2016 by

Visitors listen in Paul Simon: Words & Music

Visitors listen in Paul Simon: Words & Music

As the “Paul Simon: Words & Music” exhibit is being packed up to return to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH, I wanted to reflect on its run at the JMM. We had 5,159 visitors to the Museum since mid-October while the exhibit was open.  Just this past Sunday, we had 474 visitors which is more than anyone can remember coming in a single day. On Sunday, we also had two well attended programs including a children’s program with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and a concert in Lloyd Street Synagogue by SONiA disappear fear. Visitors have come from across the country and even from a few foreign countries such as Brazil, Poland and Australia.

SONia performs in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

SONia performs in the Lloyd Street Synagogue.

We had a good diversity of groups seeing Paul Simon as well. Last Thursday evening, we had around 70 young Jewish professionals associated with IMPACT attend a “Night at the Museum” where they enjoyed drinks, snacks and an exclusive look at the Paul Simon exhibit. Prior to that, several special needs students visited the Museum from the Maiden Choice School as well as students from the Maryland School of the Blind where they got to use the new Braille handouts that our docent Robyn Hughes developed. We’ve also had visits from several senior groups, Jewish congregations, public and private schools, colleges and even a group of men from a drug addiction treatment center.

Comments abound.

Comments abound.

For the past few months, visitors have been leaving sticky notes commenting on the exhibit. It has been fun to read some of the comments such as visitors being excited that they got to feel like a teenager again and others who thanked us for the memories and the inspiration. One man described growing up near Paul Simon’s neighborhood in Queens and another recalled being at the Simon and Garfunkel concert in Central Park in 1981.

Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in AMerica logo, shades of green with a stethoscope as the ampersand.

Mark your calendars for March 13th!

Although we are sad to see Paul Simon go, the space will not be empty for long, as we will begin installing our next original exhibit, “Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America,” which will open on March 13th.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




A Jam Packed Day at the Museum!

Posted on November 30th, 2015 by

November 15th was perhaps our busiest day yet in my six months at the Museum. It was exciting and exhilarating, but also at times hectic. This particular day also gives a good idea of what it can be like to be the Visitor Services Coordinator at the Jewish Museum of MD.

The day began bright and early with the great great grandson of Rabbi Avaham Schwartz leading morning services at Lloyd Street Synagogue.  For those who do not know, the renowned Rabbi Schwartz led Shomrei Mishmereth Ha Kodesh beginning in 1908 and remained its leader for the next thirty years. It was so exciting to meet the descendants of Rabbi Schwartz and to see the synagogue active again and filled with the sounds of prayer. The service helped me picture how the space might have been used a hundred years ago as an orthodox congregation.

The LSS in action

The LSS in action

A half an hour after the Museum opened to the public, a fourth grade class from Columbia Congregation arrived and they received a tour of the Synagogue and Voices of Lombard Street exhibit. It was refreshing to hear young voices in the Museum and to see them excited about learning about Baltimore’s Jewish heritage. Just as the school group was leaving, another group arrived, this time from Hadassah. They came specifically to see the Paul Simon exhibit.

We then started to get busy with walk-ins for a lecture by Richard Goldstein at 1pm titled “Paul Simon and the Birth of Folk Rock.” I was busy assisting our fabulous front desk volunteers process admission payments while also keeping an eye on the shop. During the lecture, Richard Goldstein focused on Paul Simon’s early career and how his sense of pop music played a crucial role in the transition from folk to rock.

Listening to Richard Goldstein

Listening to Richard Goldstein

Just as the lecture was finishing up, descendants of suffragettes including a descendant of Sadie Crockin and Sara Bard Field began arriving for a meeting where they had time to share information about their ancestors and receive a tour of our exhibits.

The Suffragettes

The Suffragettes

To wrap up the day, I then joined our Education Director, Ilene Dackman’s, on her inaugural Sounds of the Synagogue tour. It was wonderful to hear clips from a Hebrew prayer service, organ music, a sermon by Rabbi Illoway supporting slavery and recreated conversations from Shomrei Mishmeres. I look forward to hopefully giving the tour in the coming weeks.

In total, we had about 75 visitors come through the Museum plus as additional 125 in groups and rentals. Just when I thought we could not be beat, the next Sunday we had more than 160 visitors and another well attended lecture. I am optimistic that we can maintain this momentum throughout the Paul Simon exhibit and beyond.

GrahamA blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




« Previous PageNext Page »