Timing Is Everything

Posted on February 9th, 2018 by

Performance Counts: February 2018

This month’s edition of Performance Counts comes to us from Deputy Director Tracie Guy-Decker. Read more posts from Tracie by clicking HERE.

The surprising path to a wonderful evening.

Seven weeks ago, we were planning to have a darkened gallery right now. Six weeks ago, Marvin got a call from the Assistant Director of International Affairs in Maryland’s Office of the Secretary of State that changed that plan.

Ordinarily, it takes between 8 months and 3 years to plan an exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. When the Secretary of State’s office called Marvin, they had a show they wanted us to exhibit a month and a half later. In most years, a call like that would yield a response of “thanks, but how about in a year and a half?” (Which is the response they had been receiving from all over the state.) This year, as fate would have it, we were able to answer “we’ve got about 1800 square feet available. Let’s talk.”

It was, as they say, beshert—meant to be.

The Secretary of State’s office was working with the Embassy of Israel. The Embassy had worked with Yad Vashem to develop an exhibit, Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, about diplomats who, during WWII, risked their careers (and in some cases their lives) to help save Jews from the Nazis. After the war, the fledgling state of Israel declared 34 diplomats from 21 countries around the world to be “Righteous Among the Nations.” These ambassadors, consuls, attaches and other diplomats–none of them Jewish–showed great bravery in the face of evil.

With 28 panels, Beyond Duty focusses the stories of 9 of those diplomats. We received the panels on January 30. Under Joanna’s direction, JMM staff installed the panels in our empty Feldman Gallery.

 


On February 1, we co-hosted an invitation-only preview of the exhibit with the Israeli embassy, featuring remarks from Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford, Secretary of State John Wobensmith and Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Israel to the United States, Reuven Azar.

About 75 people attended the exhibit preview, including members of the Baltimore City Council, the Maryland State House of Delegates as well as members of the JMM Board of Trustees, and additional invited guests from the JMM community, the network of the Embassy of Israel, and the Friends of the Governor’s office of Community Initiatives and its eight Ethnic Commissions. By the numbers, it took nine JMM staff members (that’s 75% of us!), one former JMM staff member (we miss you Deborah!), and at least five staff members of the Embassy of Israel to make the evening a success.

The exhibit opened to the public on Sunday, February 4, and will be open through March 25, which means you have about 5 weeks to check it out. In that time, we’ll be hosting 14 programs as part of our JMM Live! Performance Series, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you check it out more than once!

Read more about the event and the exhibit at:

The Baltimore Jewish Times – New Exhibit at JMM Honors Holocaust’s Unsung Heroes

JMore: Baltimore Jewish Living – Exhibition at JMM Honors Righteous Gentile Diplomats during the Holocaust

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JMM Insights: Remembering Auschwitz

Posted on February 17th, 2017 by

 

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Opening March 5

The smell of fresh paint wafting from behind the closed gallery door is a tell tale sign marking the transition from one exhibit to another. In January we said goodbye to Beyond Chicken Soup, returned many of the artifacts and crated the text panels and interactives for shipment to its next venue. As soon as the gallery was empty, Mark Ward and his incredible crew were hard at work prepping for our next exhibition, Remembering Auschwitz: History, Holocaust, Humanity which is set to open on March 5.

This landmark initiative brings four separate exhibit projects together for the first time, each of which explores a facet of Holocaust history and commemoration. Together they shed light on the significance of Auschwitz – the town and the camp – and how it has endured as a symbol of the Holocaust for more than 70 years after its liberation.  With three main camps and more than 40 sub-camps, Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest camp within the Nazi prison system and served as the site where approximately 1.1 million people were murdered included nearly 1 million Jews.

Hotel Schmeidler, 1912. Courtesy of Miroslaw Ganobis. Image from A Town Known as Auschwitz.

Hotel Schmeidler, 1912. Courtesy of Miroslaw Ganobis. Image from A Town Known as Auschwitz.

Our exhibit takes visitors through a multidimensional tour of Holocaust history beginning centuries prior to the Nazi invasion of Poland. A Town Known As Auschwitz: Life and Death of a Jewish Community from the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust reveals 400 years of the vibrant Jewish history of Oświęcim, Poland —the town the Germans called Auschwitz. Told through photographs, maps and oral history interviews, the exhibit focuses on friendships between Jewish and non-Jewish residents of the town and how the Jewish community flourished for centuries.

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Architecture of Murder

Construction of the camp known as Auschwitz I began in 1940 in an abandoned Polish military barracks on the outskirts of the town. Architecture of Murder: The Auschwitz Birkenau Blueprints developed by Yad Vashem and on loan from the American Society for Yad Vashem, explores this darker period in the town’s history through blue prints, architectural drawings and other documents. To provide further visual evidence of the camp, the exhibit also features a model of the camp created by local high school student, Andrew Altman, to honor the experiences of his great-grandfather, Edward (Yehuda) Biderman who was sent on a transport to Auschwitz in August of 1944 from the Lodz Ghetto in Poland.

Image combining the train station at Buhosovice, near Terezîn (left) and Auschwitz (right). Image from Loss and Beauty by artist Keron Psillas.

Image combining the train station at Buhosovice, near Terezîn (left) and Auschwitz (right). Image from Loss and Beauty by artist Keron Psillas.

Today, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Museum is visited by millions of visitors each year. Loss and Beauty: Photographs by Keron Psillas provides a contemporary perspective on the experience of visiting and documenting Auschwitz and other camps today. Psillas’s beautiful and haunting works consist of layered photographs that seek to commemorate and honor the lives of those murdered during the Holocaust. A catalog of her work that includes her poetry as well as her reflections on each photograph on display in the exhibit will be available for sale in our gift shop.

A collage made to honor and remember Gitta Nagel.

A collage made to honor and remember Gitta Nagel.

The Holocaust Memory Reconstruction Project is an original art installation developed in partnership with The Human Element Project that adds the voices and stories of Maryland’s community of Holocaust survivors. The plaques on display feature the collages that were created during the many different workshops that we held this summer and fall for Holocaust survivors and their families and highlight incredible stories of survival.

We look forward to marking the opening of Remembering Auschwitz with a special pre-opening brunch and tour for Holocaust survivors and their families in the morning on Sunday, March 5. We will then open the exhibit to the public at 12:00 that day. At 2:00, we have invited artists Lori Shocket of the Human Element Project and Keron Psillas to talk about their experiences documenting the Holocaust and other tragedies through the medium of art. We hope you will join us for what will surely be a moving experience. The exhibit remains on display through May 29.

deborahA blog post by Deputy Director Deborah Cardin. To read more posts from Deborah click HERE.

 

 

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Performance Counts: Looking Ahead

Posted on December 11th, 2015 by

Today’s Performance Counts looks ahead.  JMM plans its exhibits (both rented and JMM originals) on a two to three year rolling schedule.  So while you are enjoying Paul Simon: Words and Music this month we have already locked in our offerings well after 2016’s Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America. With just one traveling exhibit gallery we try to represent a range of important topics in the Jewish experience – from popular culture to communal tragedies.  I have asked Deborah to offer a preview of an important upcoming project.

~Marvin

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In the spring of 2017 we are designing a project that is composed of multiple elements and multiple perspectives.  Remembering Auschwitz is comprised of two exhibits, a commemorative art installation and a program series.  Our object is to take an international story, well known in its outline, and to bring new focus to the details – by looking at the lives of individuals before, during and after the Holocaust.  The project is expected to run from March 5-May 29, 2017, overlapping with the annual Yom HaShoah and 75 years after the camp at Auschwitz became the launching ground for Hitler’s “Final Solution”.

The Feldman gallery will feature two very different exhibits looking at two periods of time A Town Known As Auschwitz: The Life and Death of a Jewish Community comes from the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. It explores the history of the Polish and Jewish community that eventually became the site of the notorious camp.  The town of Oświęcim—today in Poland—has been known by different names, in different languages, at different times. Though it has a long and varied history prior to World War II, Jews and non-Jews lived side by side in Oświęcim and called it home. This exhibit examines the rich history of Oświęcim, Poland—the town the Germans called Auschwitz—through photographs that trace the life of the town and its Jewish residents, from the 16th century through the post-war period.

A Town Known as Auschwitz - History

A Town Known as Auschwitz – History

A second exhibit, The Auschwitz Album: The Story of a Transport from Yad Vashem interprets the only surviving visual evidence of the process of mass murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Auschwitz Album includes photos that were taken in late May or early June 1944, either by Ernst Hoffman or Bernhard Walter, two SS men assigned to fingerprint and take ID photos of the inmates. The photos portray the arrival of Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia, many of whom came from the Berehov Ghetto, which itself was a collecting point for Jews from several other small towns. The beginning of summer 1944 marked the apex of the deportation of Hungarian Jewry. For this purpose, a special rail line was extended from the railway station outside Auschwitz to a ramp inside the camp. Many of the photos in the album were taken on this ramp. Upon arriving in the camp, the Jews underwent a selection process, carried out by SS doctors and wardens. Those considered fit for work were sent into the camp, where they were registered, deloused, and assigned to barracks. The others were sent to the gas chambers.

From The Auschwitz Album

From The Auschwitz Album

These two exhibits will be displayed side by side and will provide visitors with the opportunity to consider the full history of the town and camp. We are planning on supplementing the exhibit with an art installation, Memory Reconstruction: A Sacred Culture Rebuilt, that will serve as a tribute to Maryland’s community of Holocaust survivors and their families. The JMM will work with California-based artist, Lori Shocket, to facilitate an interactive workshop for survivors and their families. During the workshops, participants bring family photographs and documents as well as stories to share with one another. Each survivor’s story is told through a collage printed on birch wood that integrates photos of personal artifacts along with stories. Collages will then be assembled into an art installation in the JMM lobby. Check out the website humanelementproject.com to learn more about this project and to see samples of the installation from The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Selections from Memory Reconstructed

Selections from Memory Reconstruction

The exhibitions also present us with an abundance of programming opportunities for both school and general audiences. For many years, the JMM has partnered with the Baltimore Jewish Council to facilitate Holocaust-related educational programs for students and teachers and we plan on developing many new educational resources that will help us expand these efforts. We anticipate holding many related public programs including survivor talks, lectures, films and authors talks.

Planning for the exhibitions and programs involves many members of our team.  Although these are “rental” exhibits, we still need to develop a design for space, plan for the preparation of the gallery and the handling of artifacts, and work with the project artist on connecting to Baltimore resources.  And of course, the most critical part of our planning is raising the funds to support all the activities above and more.  Yad Vashem has generously donated the rental of its exhibit thanks to a referral from JMM Board member, Dr. Sheldon Bearman.  Still we estimate that the total cost of mounting the exhibits and supporting the programs will be about $50,000. We are working with the Board Development committee to identify community members with a strong interest in supporting this important project.

We know that many of you reading this newsletter appreciate JMM’s commitment to serving as a premiere Holocaust educational venue.  If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities for this project (or any of our upcoming exhibits), please contact me at (410) 732-6400 x236 / dcardin@jewishmuseummd.org.

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