Museum Matters: October 2015

Posted on October 2nd, 2015 by

Last Minute Paul Simon Update

It’s almost here (and I’m not referring to Hurricane Joaquin).  Most of the exhibit is installed and we’re making final preparations for opening weekend.  We’ve had an enormous response to our Members Opening concert and there are now only a few dozen seats left.  If you want to secure a seat, I urge you to e-mail our reservations box soon… before they all go “slip-sliding away.”

We anticipate large crowds on opening day, Oct. 11th, so if you want to attend either the Paul Simon birthday celebration at 11 or the 2:30 lecture by Scott Benarde, we suggest that you come early.

The high level of demand has also inspired us to come up with an option for advanced ticketing, tickets available for Oct 12th through January 18th.  We will be selling a limited number of timed tickets to the exhibit through Tixato ( This service is provided as a convenience.  Members will not need to purchase advance tickets for themselves – entry is guaranteed at all times.  However, on especially crowded days, priority will be given to members and those purchasing advance timed tickets, with others admitted as space is available.  If you have a large group you want to bring to the Museum we suggest you contact Graham Humphrey, our visitor services managers ( to set up the visit.

Hope you all find some time to join us in three of the most exciting months in the history of JMM.



Upcoming programs

All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact Trillion Attwood at / 410-732-6400 x215 with any questions or for more information.
The Guthrie Bros.Members Opening with The Guthrie Brothers

Saturday, October 10, 7:45 p.m.

Members Exclusive Event

 Join us for the members opening of our new exhibit Paul Simon: Words and Music developed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. We are very pleased to be welcoming the Guthrie Brothers to perform their tribute act Scarborough Fair: A Simon and Garfunkel Experience.  Remember, this event is free for members but you need to reserve a place (and space is running out so contact us soon for seats)


Happy BirthdayPublic Opening: Happy Birthday Paul Simon!

Sunday, October 11, 11:00 a.m.

Included with Museum admission

Help us celebrate Paul Simon’s 74th birthday and the official opening of our latest exhibit Paul Simon: Words and Music. Celebrations include plenty of cake, a Simon Sing Along and a very special game of “Simon Says” where you can test your Paul Simon knowledge for a chance to win some great prizes!


Stars of David Rock and Roll coverStars of David: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Jewish Stories

Sunday, October 11, 3:00 p.m.

Speaker: Scott R. Benarde

Included with Museum admission 

This music-, photo-, and anecdote-filled program provides a fascinating look into how Judaism influenced the makers of popular music over the past fifty years.


Photo from flyerA Lost Love: One Family’s Forgotten History

Wednesday, October 14, 7:00 p.m.

Chizuk Amuno Congregation, 8100 Stevenson Road, Pikesville

Free Admission but registration is required:

For questions contact 202-488-0422 /

Co-sponsored by the Baltimore Jewish Council and Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Years after her grandparents passed away, journalist Sarah Wildman discovered a cache of love letters sent to her grandfather by a former lover in prewar Vienna. In her debut book, Paper Love, Wildman details her search to discover information about the mysterious woman, her family’s escape from Nazi persecution and all that was left behind. Wildman will discuss the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s important role in her research as she pieced together the story of a woman who was desperate to escape Europe and still clinging to the memory of a love that defined her years of freedom.


Cantors CombinedJews and the Folk Revival: When Change was in the Air and the Music Mattered

Sunday, October 18, 1:00 p.m.

Speakers: Cantor Jeff Klepper and Cantor Robbie Solomon

Included with Museum admission

Using audio, video and live demonstration Cantor Klepper and Cantor Solomon will explore the influence of the 1960’s folk music revival on various aspects of Jewish community.


Monster Mash CoverFree Fall Baltimore

Still Crazy After All These Years: Classic Musical Monster Mashes

Sunday, October 25, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg, UMBC


Join Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg on a tour of classic monster mashes, especially those that added a wacky twist to the popular music of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s!

FFB Logo. 2014





The Black-Jewish Century of Music

Sunday, November 1, 3:00 p.m.

Speaker: Prof. Jeffrey Melnick, University of Massachusetts Boston

Included with Museum Admission

Explore the complicated ways that Jewish Americans—as songwriters, producers, theater owners, and performers—have been crucially involved with the production of what has been understood as “Black” music.


Under African SkiesFolk Movie Festival: Under African Skies

Tuesday, November 3, 6:30 p.m.

Included with Museum Admission


simon-and-garfunkel-the-dangling-conversation-columbia fb“Can Analysis be Worthwhile?” Joining Paul Simon’s “Dangling Conversation”

Sunday, November 8, 1:00 p.m.

Speaker: Prof. Rachel Rubin, University of Massachusetts

Included with Museum Admission

Explore how throughout American history popular music has been used to process American identity as a nation, as communities and for individuals.


A mighty windFolk Movie Festival: A Mighty Wind

Tuesday, November 10, 6:30 p.m.

Included with Museum Admission


Another little piece Book coverPaul Simon and the Birth of Folk Rock

Sunday, November 15, time TBD

Speaker: Richard Goldstein

Included with Museum Admission

 Focusing on Paul Simon’s early career we will explore how his sense of pop music, combined with his erudition, played a crucial role in the transition from folk to rock, and thereby formed the basic parameters of 60s music.


Inside Llewyn DavisFolk Movie Festival: Inside Llewyn Davis

Tuesday, November 17, 6:30 p.m.

Included with Museum Admission


Woody_Guthrie smallHoly Ground: Woody Guthrie’s Yiddish Connection

Sunday, November 22, time 2:00 p.m.

Speaker Nora Guthrie

Included with Museum Admission

Nora Guthrie, daughter of Woody Guthrie, discusses the artistic implications of Woody’s relationship with his Jewish mother in law, Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt.


Phil Ochs FortuneFolk Movie Festival: Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune

Tuesday, November 24, 6:30 pm

Included with Museum Admission


More Programs

The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. For additional information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat, please visit  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit or check out BIYA on facebook.

Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland October Meeting

Sunday, October 25, 1:30pm, Hadassah meeting room (3723 Old Court Road, Dumbarton Offices Entrance) New Sources, New Ways to Search

Speaker: Logan Kleinwaks 

The program is free for paid members and $5 for non-members. Refreshments will be available. Go to for more information.



JMM Museum Shop

The JMM Museum Shop welcomes visitors for the exhibit, Paul Simon: Words and Music!

Our shop has great must-have pieces from deconstructed Paul Simon vinyls, a stunning bowl, amazing clock, and yes, magnets!

The catalog, Paul Simon, Words and Music, is a fabulous book for you and a gift for your Paul Simon fan and friend.  All this plus our hand-picked jewelry and Judaica for you and that special gift.

Every purchase made in the JMM Museum Shop supports the mission and programs of the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

JMM Members receive a 10% discount on all purchases, except as noted.


For further information, please call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211.







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The Usefulness of Ephemera

Posted on September 30th, 2015 by

A refrain I’ve heard several times while prepping “Paul Simon: Words and Music” goes along the lines of “Oh, too bad I got rid of all my record albums!” Fortunately, getting rid of records is not something the Church family does easily, and so a supply of Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel albums was ready to hand. My parents saved their records, even after there was no longer a record player in the house, because (among other reasons) there was space in the basement to store them. I myself saved some of their records because (among other reasons) I am sentimentally attached to things that my parents wrote their names on when they were young.

“M.C.M. ‘72” noted inside “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” courtesy my mother. The same thing can be found on the other albums pictured here. Don’t steal teenaged Margaret’s records!

“M.C.M. ‘72” noted inside “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” courtesy my mother. The same thing can be found on the other albums pictured here. Don’t steal teenaged Margaret’s records!

I am a believer in the significance of ‘ordinary’ artifacts – like my parents’ records – though I’m as susceptible as anyone else to the lure of the Famous Person’s Belongings. What I particularly enjoy, in all cases, is the story of how and why a particular artifact was saved. My favorite tidbit from “Paul Simon: Words and Music” is the fact that Simon didn’t know what happened to his red jacket from the Tom & Jerry days, until a cousin said something to the effect of “Hey, do you want this jacket back?” (How many rock stars wish they had such thoughtful relatives? And how many rock stars’ parents wish now that they hadn’t cleared out all those beat-up amps and stage costumes from the pre-fame era?)
There are several instances in this exhibit where the importance of artifacts – both to the artist and to the audience – is part of the narrative, explicitly and implicitly. I’d argue that, as exhibit visitors, some part of us is thinking about the how and why of artifact survival, even if most of our brain is taken up with “Wow, that’s the real thing.”
My challenge to you, potential “Words and Music” visitors, is to take a close look at the variety of objects, papers, and other visuals included in what is, technically, an exhibit about an audio format. Then, plan a hypothetical exhibit about your own favorite music. (Favorite from today, from your youth, from your own songwriting genius, whatever you prefer – this is an unstructured homework assignment, don’t worry.) The fun of exhibit creation is finding those particular items that will illustrate a concept and help the viewer make connections. What have you hung on to, accidentally or deliberately, that might help you explain to your hypothetical viewers why that particular song, artist, or genre of music is important to you? Is there a correlation between the important music, and the items you discover that you’ve saved? What would you include in the exhibit if you could go back and find a now-missing poster, t-shirt, or hand-written lyric?
P.S. This is not intended to make you feel badly for disposing of anything over the years. But if you have, spare a thought for the exhibit designers who have to deal with all the people who’ve told them, “Oh, too bad I got rid of all that stuff!”

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

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Louisville: Bourbon Barrels, Baseball Bats and Big Ideas

Posted on September 24th, 2015 by

Sandwiched between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Ilene Dackman-Alon and I attended the 75th annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History, held this year in Louisville, KY.  It was a great opportunity to tour museum sites, confer with colleagues, discuss industry trends and return with ideas to improve JMM.  Here are a few of the highlights:

1. Serving the Visually Impaired – Ilene attended a workshop at the American Printing House for the Blind. Founded in 1858, APH is the oldest organization of its kind in the United States. From 1858 until the Civil War began, APH organized its operation and raised funds to create embossed books. After the war, APH produced its first tactile books. By the early 1870s, APH was operating on a national scale. APH is the official supplier of educational materials to all students in the U.S. who meet the definition of blindness and are working at less than college level.  We saw the actual printing of pages with Braille letters as well as the binding of the books.


An APH educator

An APH educator

It was fascinating to hear from museum educators (who happened to be visually impaired as well) about how they experience museums and the importance of making museums accessible to all types of learners using a variety of interactives and engaging materials for all of the  senses.  I loved seeing all of the different tactile materials that are produced at APH in so many subjects (music, math, science, English arts, social studies).  They even showed us the Braille version of the program from President Obama’s Second Inauguration.

A display on music at APH

A display on music at APH

I was pleased to see that that many of the steps that the JMM has taken to serve the visually impaired under the leadership of Robyn Hughes are in line with best practices at APH. As we move forward in creating new exhibits at the JMM, I hope we can implement some of the ideas such as wheel-chair level chair rails, Braille texts and panels to create a richer museum experience.


Trilobite touch wall at Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Trilobite touch wall at Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Marvin took a tour of neighboring historic sites and also had a chance to see some interesting work being installed at the Falls of the Ohio State Park (just across the river from Louisville) where a firm had integrated tactile exploration into every part of its core exhibit.

2. We also enjoyed hearing the keynote speaker, Sam Wineburg, author  of  Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts.  Wineburg is an educator at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education.  He recently developed the Reading Like a Historian Curriculum which has been downloaded  over 2  million times.  The curriculum engages students in historical inquiry, one of the basic pedagogic skills that is a thrust of the Maryland Career and College Ready Standards and Common Core curriculum.  Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features sets of primary documents designed for groups of students with diverse reading skills and abilities.

Wineburg  used the term “digital natives” to describe the generation that has grown up in the digital age.  The Internet provide us with so many different websites .  One of the questions that he raised,  Who is an Informed Citizen in the Digital Age?  How much of the information on the web should be believed?  Wineburg spoke about  “The Digital Tookbox”  and questions that one must ask to realize if the information and website really come from a reliable source.  He spoke about a case study that took place in Los Angeles, where teachers gave the students three websites and had them write about the reasons for the Holocaust.  All three website had not been vetted, and many students took the information on the website as absolute facts.  They went on to write essays with claims that the Holocaust never took place.

3. The history relevance campaign – a group within AASLH (among the leaders, Baltimore’s own John Durel) is trying to create energy on a national campaign to promote the value of history.  The effort was a response to the marginalization of history as a subject matter, both in schools and in the public conversation about cultural institutions.  The organizers  are stressing a common vocabulary that organizations like ours can use in making the case for greater civic and foundation support:!value-statement/ca2m.  In the coming months I will be urging Historic Jonestown Inc., the Greater Baltimore History Alliance and the JMM Board to add our voices to this national movement.

4. A different way of looking at historic sites.  The archeologist giving the tour at the Farnsley-Moremen House began his talk by saying “no one famous or important ever lived here, it was not the site of a battle or any other monumental event.”  He went on to demonstrate, however, that it was a great site to talk about historical thinking and to engage the public in the process of uncovering history.  It caused me to think deeply about the balance we need to achieve between fixing our gaze on the important historic events that took place in our synagogues and on our block – and the illustrations we can offer through these spaces about “how we know” the lives of average Jewish Marylanders.

At the Falls, Jay was just a stiff, at Farnsley-Moremen House he was our very lively guide.

At the Falls, Jay was just a stiff, at Farnsley-Moremen House he was our very lively guide.

5. “Unfolding Events” – in many ways this was the most thought-provoking session I attended.  It was an open forum discussion about how museums could/should respond to “unexpected events” that have strong impacts on the cultural community – examples included Ferguson and Baltimore, the legislative struggle over gay rights that especially impacted Indiana, and the debate over Confederate flags, statues and emblems that is raging within and without Civil War sites.  One of the most interesting side-bars was the question of the obligation of museums to collect materials on political and social controversies that impact their respective communities.  This is a topic we raised at this week’s JMM Collections Committee.

6. One more honor for Mendes Cohen.  Ilene and I have to admit that one of the highlights was taking home the Leadership in History Award for the A-Mazing Mendes Cohen project.  What a great tribute to the whole team that put together this incredible project.  On the morning of the awards ceremony, Ilene and I staffed a booth explaining the background of the exhibit and living history character.  The most bittersweet moment was that nearly everyone who came by the booth said “when can I come and see it” and we had to explain the unhappy fact that the project had expired.  It certainly was an inspiration to bring back some of this experience within our new core exhibit.

Our poster presentation

Our poster presentation


Poster Accessories

7. Finally – full confession – we also had fun.  Marvin attended a workshop on “gamification” of museum content.  For someone whose two top passions are board games and museums this was as good as it gets.  On Thursday night we took a stroll down “Whiskey Row” – now home to several museums including the Frazier Museum (with a great homemade exhibit and theater program on Lewis and Clark) and the Louisville Slugger Factory Tour.  Here you see me holding Mickey Mantle’s baseball bat (but that’s only because Hank Greenberg’s wasn’t available).

A true Louisville Slugger

A true Louisville Slugger

But by far my most unusual Louisville experience was attending a small reception at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience.  This is the home of a business that proclaims itself Kentucky’s first commercial distiller.  It is indeed still a family owned business – except that family is not the Williams’ it’s the Shapira’s that have owned the parent company, Heaven Hill, for seven generations (for those of you who attended the Schnapps with Pops program in June, this comes as no surprise).  The tour of the faux factory was entertaining and it ends with a bourbon tasting.  I’m afraid the 23 year old bourbon was wasted on my uneducated palette.

Video screens informed you how to properly "taste" the bourbon.

Video screens informed you how to properly “taste” the bourbon.

Next year this conference moves to Detroit.  I’ll let you know if they let us test drive a Corvette.

A blog post from Executive Director Marvin Pinkert and Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Marvin click HERETo read more posts by Ilene click HERE.

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