A Museum for Everyone

Posted on August 31st, 2015 by

Did you know that more than 56 million Americans (about 1 in 5) have some kind of disability? This month’s issue of the American Alliance of Museum’s (AAM) magazine focuses on Museums and Accessibility and got me thinking how the Jewish Museum of Maryland can better engage with our visitors. I was excited to read about new partnerships between museums and organizations that serve individuals who have autism and Alzheimer’s and efforts that have already been made in other institutions to increase access. For people with visual disabilities, museums are using audio guides, large-print labels as well as tactile tours. For those who are hard of hearing, institutions offer sign-language interpreted tours or assistive listening devices. I agreed with many of the points in Beth Bienvenu’s article such as the importance of incorporating universal design principles throughout the Museum, partnering with local disability organizations to develop new audiences, training all staff on how to provide proper accommodations and taking steps to recruit staff and volunteers with disabilities.

Cover of this month's AAM Museum magazine.

Cover of this month’s AAM Museum magazine.

Another article in the AAM magazine discusses how museums need to include a wider range of narratives in their exhibitions and programs to reflect a more diverse community of ethnic minorities as well as individuals with disabilities.  For instance, at the NPS’s Lowndes Interpretive Center located along the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama, there is a statue of Jim Letherer, a one-legged Jewish man who marched with Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery. The exhibit is about the march and voting rights, but also includes disability as part of the story.

NPS’s Lowndes Interpretive Center

NPS’s Lowndes Interpretive Center

I learned that accessibility does not have to be limited to those with disabilities. In Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance worked with local teens to form Students at Museums in Philly (STAMP), which provides free museum admission to Philadelphia teens. This program aims to increase access to all the arts and culture Philadelphia has to offer while removing any financial barriers that may prevent teens from visiting a museum.

At JMM, we have recently made some progress on accessibility issues such as adding automatic doors to our front entrance and by developing Braille program materials. Robyn Hughes has done an amazing job trying to make the Museum more inviting to those with special needs, such as by arranging a visit for the National Federation of the Blind’s Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning. We also have a wheelchair available for those who have mobility issues, can offer a closed-captioning video of the Synagogue tour for those who are unable to climb the steps of Lloyd Street or B’nai Israel Synagogues and have tactile elements within our exhibits.

Museum Educator and Docent Robyn Hughes hard at work.

Museum Educator and Docent Robyn Hughes hard at work.

We are about to bring on a consultant to conduct an accessibility assessment at the Museum to determine how we can enhance accessibility on multiple levels including physical and programmatic access. Other possible improvements include developing new tours for people with learning disabilities and improving Museum signage. We are committed to ensuring that JMM remains a place where all feel welcomed and that everyone is able to find a part of themselves here. We are eager to begin this dialogue. Please stay tuned for updates!

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

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Summer Teachers Institute 2015 In Review

Posted on August 26th, 2015 by

This year’s Summer Teachers Institute focused on a seminal event that recently took place, the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. For an excellent summary of the program, please see intern, Eden Cho’s recent blog post: Three Days Later…. Having recently had the opportunity to review teacher evaluations from the workshop, I thought I’d take the opportunity to report on the impact that our annual program has on participants and how it shapes what and how they teach their students.

Summer Teachers Institute Flyer 2015

This year’s Summer Teachers Institute flyer

This year marked the 11th anniversary of this annual program. Since its inception in 2005, it has been a joy to have the opportunity to meet such a diverse group of dedicated educators willing to give up part of their summer vacation in order to enhance their pedagogical skills on a difficult topic. What is always interesting is that the program attracts both new participants each year as well as repeat attendees (including a handful that have participated for more than 5 years!) While it is challenging coming up with new program content year after year that meets the needs of teachers who are new to teaching Holocaust history and literature as well as those who are more seasoned, we are fortunate to have access to an incredible group of scholars and master educators who facilitate sessions on a wide variety of topics.

A total of 38 people representing many different schools and disciplines participated this year. The majority represented public schools (including Baltimore City and Baltimore and Harford Counties). Other participants teach at  while independent, Catholic and Jewish congregational schools as well as universities and we had one home-school educator.

While the fact that so many teachers elect to return year after year is one measure of the high quality of the program and the many benefits it offers, we also conduct surveys that provide us with valuable feedback. This year’s evaluations provided us with insightful feedback. Nearly all the sessions were rated by participants with the highest marks. Teachers also expressed their appreciation for the quality of the presenters and the abundance of resource material that they received. The following are sample participant comments.

*I liked how we started with Auschwitz film and survivor story, then went backwards to discuss the history.

*Agenda was well developed and followed. Guest speakers were well versed in the content and kept the group involved.

*Superlative speakers who provided different visions of Auschwitz- informative, great presenters.

*I know from talking with Louise (Gezcy) that there was a last minute change in the program. You did a wonderful job making it work so smoothly.

*It is great to hear from the practicing educator. Thank you for your great energy, Louise (Gezcy)!

*Wow! What an inspiration Bluma (Shapiro) is! To have gone through what she did, yet be willing to share her story and teach important lessons about life is simply amazing. She is a portrait of perseverance, forgiveness, and positivity!

*A blessing to meet living history! Thanks.

*I could listen to Shiri (Sandler) all day! A marvelous presentation, not just about the background of Auschwitz, but how to read photos and artifacts! Great job!

*A wealth of information. A very concise history of Auschwitz, the Jewish community, and what the Germans chose it. Very interesting! Very interesting lens of looking at Auschwitz before it became the death camp. Shiri is very energetic and knowledgeable. Thank you! Great resources.

*[Heller Kreshtool] was a pleasure! Great decision to place her as the last session. Refreshing perspective I hadn’t considered much.

*The story of a child of survivors is critical to how we now teach the Holocaust.

*Doesn’t matter how many times I visit (the USHMM), it’s still powerful.

*This was an excellent opportunity (presentation by Dr. White and Dr. Cohen) to discover how to teach complexity and depth in investigative skills to our students.

*Very useful information (Centropa presentation)! Amazing website full of information! Liked being given time to play around with the website. Novel theme: show whole person, not just person as victim.

This was an excellent opportunity (conversation with Fr. Bob and Rabbi Josh) for guided dialogue with the presenters as facilitators.

Great overview of 4 graphic novels! Good reasons to use graphic novels. Also gave novel recommendations for children. Dynamic speaker (Josh Headley)!

Thank you, and your staff, for another insightful Summer Teachers Institute!

Thanks again for this amazing experience. The institute was great and I feel lucky that I was able to participate.

Because our Summer Teachers Institute meets the qualifications of both the Maryland State Department of Education as well as Baltimore City Public Schools  for high quality professional development (in order to qualify, we need to submit an application for review), we are able to offer participants professional development credit. In order to be eligible for the credit, they must turn in a written reflection (for MSDE credit) as well as an implementation plan (i.e. lesson plan, for Baltimore City). These reflections and teaching plans provide another measure for assessing programmatic impact as they demonstrate which aspect of the programs are most useful for teachers and which resources they plan on using. It was gratifying to learn from this year’s submissions that teachers plan on integrating content from each session as well as many of the websites, books and lesson plan resources they received. Evaluations and reflections also provide important feedback as we plan for next year’s program.

We are grateful to our program sponsors, Jerry and Judy Macks, the Klein Sandler Family Fund and the Conference for Claims Against Germany for making our Summer Teachers Institute possible and for enabling us to reach out to such a diverse group of educators and provide them with valuable classroom resources.

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

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Once Upon a Time…12.26.2015

Posted on August 25th, 2015 by

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Joanna Church at 410.732.6400 x236 or email jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org

1997134529Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  December 26, 2014

 

PastPerfect Accession #:  1997.134.529

 

Status:  Potential Identification – The gentleman in the wheelchair might be Daniel Becker (resident of Concord House, next door to Levindale).

 

Special Thanks To: Jack Becker

 

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Next Page »