Posted on May 10th, 2013 by Rachel
The first step in improving performance is measuring progress. In this month’s edition of Performance Counts, Abby and Ilene talk about the processes we use to keep and analyze data on both our general visitors and our school groups.
Abby Krolik, Visitor Services Coordinator
We are delighted to report that visitation to the JMM has increased by more than 38% in the past few months (in comparison of a 14 week span, January- mid-April, to the same time period last year). In an effort to learn more about our visitors, in the past few months we have made a concerted effort to gather specific data about each individual who walk through our doors. We track information about our visitors in several ways. For walk-in visitors, that process begins at the door, where our front desk receptionist records in the admission log how many adults, seniors, children, etc. come in and at what time of day. We also use that first interaction with visitors at the front desk to ask them where they are from and how they heard about the museum. At the end of each month, I go through the daily attendance logs and tally how many visitors we had in total, and how the attendance statistics break down (member vs. non-member / senior vs. adult vs. child vs. student / how many guest passes were used for admission, etc.) I also am able to report where our visitors are from by tallying up zip codes and states as well as the many different factors that influenced their decision to visit the JMM.
It has been fascinating learning about the reasons why people visit the JMM. Comments include “relative of someone who worshipped at Lloyd St. Synagogue or B’nai Israel Synagogue,” or “Lives/used to live in the neighborhood and always wanted to visit the museum.” Mostly, however, the responses to “How did you hear about the JMM?” involve more expected sources, such as Google searches, listings and ads in local publications or information provided to tourists, and the Groupon and Living Social promotions we recently offered. Collecting this information is important for several reasons, especially in terms of helping us figure out which marketing strategies are the most effective. This data also helps inform program development as it helps us learn about what types of audiences we are already reaching and which groups require new marketing strategies.
Gathering and calculating visitor information for scheduled groups works a little differently. Generally, we have an idea of how many people to expect from because the groups’ organizers give us a headcount in advance. However, inevitably, the actual number of people who arrive on the day of the tour is somewhat different from the expected number. For that reason, we make sure to count how many are actually present on the tour and write it down in the admission log. We also distribute a brief evaluation form to teachers to fill out while they are at the museum with their school groups, so that we can collect accurate information about the group (are they a Title I school? Which school district are they from?), as well as receive immediate feedback on our own performance. All of this information is also totaled at the end of each month, along with the information about our walk-in visitors, program attendance, and outreach numbers. Gathering accurate information about our visitors and analyzing this data to discern specific trends about visitation to the JMM enables our staff to measure our success in fulfilling our mission. This information also helps us in our efforts to secure grant funding that, in turn, provides us with the necessary support to implement programs and exhibits that continue to draw in new audiences.
Tracking Success Through Our Educational Programs
Ilene Dackman-Alon, Director of Education
The JMM’s educational enrichment programs offer students and teachers the chance to participate in hands-on active discovery and experiential learning activities that they would otherwise not be exposed to in their classrooms. The Museum’s education programs align with the Maryland State’s curriculum in social studies and English language arts goals and standards for students and teachers in grades K-12. The Museum closely tracks the annual attendance of students, parents and teachers taking part in our education programs both on and off-site. Our staff compiles reports that break down the visitation by grade level and school district. These reports serve as useful tools for learning the extent to which our educational resources are utilized. We also monitor which schools schedule repeat visits from year to year, another indicator of the positive impact of our school services.
The Museum performs evaluation based on outcome. The evaluation process is critical for Museum professionals and educators in order to evaluate the value of the Museum environment as a place of productive learning. We are specifically concerned that our school visitors gain a basic knowledge of fundamental Jewish traditions and values, a grounding in how Jewish history has evolved in the State of Maryland, and an appreciation of a minority experience within a multicultural context.
Systematic evaluation – a key component of all Museum programs, ensures that these outcomes are achieved. JMM staff solicits evaluation forms from all teachers who participate in on- and off-site programs. These evaluation forms provide critical feedback about the quality of the program, how well they align with curricular standards, and whether or not the programs meet intended objectives. The JMM staff also observes programs to evaluate their effectiveness. Programs are regularly refined based on the content of these evaluations and observations.
We are fortunate to receive grant support for many of our educational initiatives and we are committed to providing all donors with timely reports that summarize our progress on specific projects as well as evaluation data that we have gathered from surveys and meetings with teachers. We are proud to report on each year’s accomplishments as well as the lessons we have learned while implementing each initiative and how we plan on using evaluation results to improve our performance in the upcoming year.
We are pleased to report on just a few measures of success from this past year:
- We have served 600 more students and teachers through on-site school visits in comparison to a similar time period from last year (July 1-April 30).
- Our education staff has developed new educational resources and activities in connection with the exhibits, Zap, Pow Bam and The Synagogue Speaks!
- Our partnership initiative with Baltimore City schools continues to grow – we have added two new schools this year: Patterson Park Charter School and City Springs Elementary/Middle School.
- We have also developed a partnership with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum to provide joint field trip opportunities for visiting school groups.
We look forward to continue our efforts at tracking and reporting on future success of our educational programs.
Posted on July 20th, 2011 by Rachel
A blog post by associate director Anita Kassof.
1. It’s Colorful.
Photo by Will Kirk.
In Each Other’s Shoes, our exhibition of artwork by Loring Cornish, has been extended until September 15. There’s still plenty of time to come down and see these intricate, evocative, and inspiring works.
2. It’s open late.
We’re open until 9pm on the first Thursday of every month, with special programs, food, drink, and entertainment. Next up: “Oy Bay! Celebrating Baltimore’s Favorite Spice,” Thursday August 4 from 6 to 9pm.
3. It’s free.
Enjoying their free admission!
Okay, not all the time, but we do offer complimentary admission on First Thursdays. It’s a great time to check us out.
4. It’s accessible.
We’re right on the Circulator route. Take the orange line, get off at the “Jewish Museum of Maryland” stop (Lombard and Lloyd), and we’re only steps away.
5. It’s on sale.
Now through the end of July, all merchandise in the Museum shop (excluding consignment items) is 40% off. Yes, you read that right: 40% off. Come in now to stock up on bar and bat mitzvah gifts, wedding presents, and a little something for yourself.
6. It’s historic.
Our synagogues are star attractions on Heritage Walk, a pedestrian trail that winds through the neighborhood and includes sites such as the Star Spangled Banner Flag House, the McKim Center, and the Friends Meeting House. Free guided tours depart from the Inner Harbor Visitors Center 7 days a week: weekends at 10 and 1 and weekdays at 10.
7. It’s kid friendly.
Voices of Lombard Street and The Synagogue Speaks are family-friendly exhibitions, with plenty of things to touch and explore. Hands-on history kits add another layer of fun for young visitors.
8. It’s air conditioned.
Even our historic synagogues are nice and cool at this time of year. Thanks to generous support from the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, Save America’s Treasures, The Associated, and others, we updated all the systems in the Lloyd Street Synagogue in 2009.
9. It tells a story.
Our latest publication, The Synagogue Speaks, tells the story of the Lloyd Street Synagogue and the three congregations that worshipped there. Beautifully illustrated by Jonathan Scott Fuqua, it will delight readers of all ages. Come down to buy your copy today.
10. It comes to you.
Still not convinced? Then let us come to you. The JMM Speakers Bureau brings speakers to your group or event. Check out our website for a list of topics: http:///www.jewishmuseummd.org/speakersbureau
Posted on January 10th, 2011 by Rachel
“Wonderful, wonderful. Everyone in Baltimore should see this exhibit.”
—Voices of Lombard Street visitor, 2010
Our exhibition Voices of Lombard Street had its third anniversary this past fall, though we didn’t do anything to celebrate it. We tend to take it for granted: it seems to be holding up well, it provides a good “core experience” for our visitors (museum-speak for… actually I’m not sure what that term is supposed to mean), and it enables us to focus our funds and our energies on other projects while keeping one gallery occupied.
Last week we replaced the exhibition’s filled-up visitor comment book with a new one, and I took the old one back to my office and looked through it. Reading the comments of visitors who, three years out, are confronting Voices for the first time, I was happy to see that people still are finding it a valuable—and even powerful and moving—experience.
Voices explores a century of life in the East Baltimore neighborhood surrounding the museum. It evokes immigrant Jewish life in the early to mid 20th century, then moves on to describe the process of urban change that occurred later in the century, and ends with a discussion of the neighborhood today. We wanted it to be thought-provoking as well as nostalgic—entertaining as well as substantive. And relevant to a wide variety of audiences. The comments suggest that we hit the mark—so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share them.
We wanted Voices to be relevant to people of different generations, cultures, and places of origin:
“This was the world of my grandparents and great grandparents—and was totally unknown to me until today. Thanks for keeping history alive for my generation.”—from Boise, Idaho
“I loved every picture, every minute. Maybe because I remember so much.”
“I attended the museum for credit for my Socl 141 class. Midway through, tears began to well in my eyes as I read the stories of immigrant Jews and the stories of other ethnic [groups]. I was not aware of the rich history of the Jewish, Italian, Irish, and African American community in Baltimore city.”— a non-Jewish Catonsville resident
“Brought tears to my eyes as this was the generation of my grandparents.”
“I have come here from Israel for this and it is worth it!”
“My son, age 4, was thoroughly engaged and asked me to read him many placards. Thanks for the kitchen utensils, sewing machine, etc. Beautifully done.”
“Oh do I remember. This brings back memories of my childhood coming to Lombard Street with my mother to get fresh chickens for the holiday.”
“I’ve lived here 80 years and learned new things today.”
“Excellent introduction for visitors to Baltimore.”—from a Knoxville, Tennessee resident
The original entrance to Weiss delicatessen, 1127 E. Lombard Street, prior to the fire that gutted it in 1985. Photograph by Elinor B. Cahn. 1985.031.005
We wanted to tell a compelling story that engages people intellectually and emotionally—that they can feel, hear, and sense:
“This exhibit comes to life as you stroll through. I felt as though I met the residents on Lombard Street. Great job!”
“The sounds were the best—really made the pictures come alive.”
“It captured wonderfully the atmosphere of a bye-gone age.”—from Lancashire, UK
“Many things you can relate to and identify with through personal experience, e.g. sugar sack night gowns.”
“We loved being able to interact with the exhibit.”
“Grabs your attention. A great experience.”
“Outstanding—nostalgia overwhelms me and I am left with a fuzzy warm heart.”
“Wonderful. For a moment I was again with my father.”
“I am amazed by the way you told such a compelling and relevant story almost entirely through the reminiscences of neighborhood residents. I loved it.”
Hand-tinted lantern slide of a man reading the paper in front of a store on East Lombard Street. Courtesy of the Ross J. Kelbaugh Collection. 1988.226.004a
We wanted to place the Jewish experience within the complex history of Baltimore as an ever-changing American city:
“It was really eye opening and put a real history to this district.”
“Wonderful! I never knew so much about Baltimore and I’ve lived here all my life.”
“A fabulous job telling the complex historical tale from all perspectives. We loved it!”
“I think you told it like it was…”
“So much to learn—wow! The parts about Martin Luther King were especially interesting.”
“I was particularly interested by the sections dealing with other communities in Lombard Street . . . a really well-rounded portrait of an area.”
“I’m surprised that the details of working class life were NOT suppressed. Good job.”
“The exhibit had wonderful 21st century insights.”
Two boys looking in the window of a butcher shop on East Lombard Street, 1963. Photograph by John McGrain.1995.187.016
We wanted kids to enjoy Voices. Here’s what some of them had to say:
“I especially liked the outhouse and bowl of chicken soup.”
“Scary and interesting.”
“Chickens were awesome! But I wanted to see fish!”
“The noises rocked. Loved the signs and quotes.”
“Very interesting… but the soup needs salt.”
“I thought it was amazing to see what we’ve actually been learning about in school.”
A girls ballet class, 1937. 1992.231.079
“This is the best museum I have been to in Baltimore! I thought the exhibition was excellent, mixing factual panels with quotes from local people and handling objects and activities for children—what a museum should be. . . . Thank you for putting together such a well-conceived and engaging exhibition!”—from a resident of Vienna
“Another hidden treasure of Baltimore.”
“This is an American Jewish treasure!”—from a resident of Los Angeles
“Fantastic exhibit. Even as a New York Jew I identified and could picture my ancestors going through similar trials, tribulations, and joys.”
“Wondrous! So much more than we expected.”
OK, you get the picture. The upshot is, if you haven’t seen Voices of Lombard Street, please come! I think you’ll like it.