Once Upon a Time…08.29.2014

Posted on May 5th, 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

2002107061Date run in Baltimore Jewish Times:  August 29, 2014


PastPerfect Accession #:  2002.107.061


Status:  Unidentified – do you know anyone in this Golden Age dancing class from March 1957?


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Report from Atlanta

Posted on May 4th, 2015 by

I can still remember the odd feeling in 1968 watching the split screen of the events inside and outside the Democratic Convention in Chicago.  I was 16 at the time.  The events on TV were made a bit stranger since a few of my friends and relatives were in the streets that day (just 12 miles from my home) being tear-gassed and beaten while I was under my mother’s orders not to leave the house.

All those feelings from 1968 came back to me as I sat helplessly in my hotel room at the AAM museum conference in Atlanta watching parts of my adopted city burn. The conference theme was “the social value of museums inspiring change” – all I could think was “we have a lot of work ahead.”

I am writing this blog post about what was on “the other half of my screen” – the half that was doing my darndest to focus on ideas that might be useful to either adopt, adapt or avoid at JMM.

In conjunction with the conference I had a chance to visit four Atlanta museums I had not seen before and revisit the Atlanta History Center. Let me share a few personal observations about these five institutions.

  1. This was my second trip to the Atlanta History Center which is undergoing a major renovation. But their “unique” Civil War exhibit is still open to the public – if you want to know the Confederacy’s “strategy to win the war in 1865”, this is definitely the place to come. It also offered a fabulous dessert bar as part of a progressive dinner (sorry, no picture) – I lost that battle too!  But here is a photo of me with a 1929 Hudson Super Six Sedan that made me feel like I was on the set of Downton Abbey – the grounds of the History Center are among the most beautiful settings for a museum that I’ve ever seen.

    1929 Hudson Super Six Sedan

    1929 Hudson Super Six Sedan

  2. The William Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum. The museum has five major spaces on the ground floor (as well as quite a large surface parking lot). Two spaces are for performance/activities:  a small theater and a much larger auditorium (The Selig Center) which appears to be a shared use space with Atlanta’s Jewish Federation.  There is a permanent Holocaust gallery – heavily photo based; a temporary exhibit gallery (about the size of ours – currently featuring a tribute to Maurice Sendak); and a core exhibit, organized as a chronological journey through major artifacts from the collection.  I found the most interesting part of this gallery was the invitation at its end for visitor’s to offer their ideas of “missing topics” … I’ll be interested in finding out what kind of response rate they are getting to this offer.

    What stories did we miss?

    What stories did we miss?

  3. The Center for Puppetry Arts is located directly across the street from the Breman Museum. My sense is that this makes a great combination for attracting both family audiences and school groups – that can easily see both museums in the same day. Puppetry Arts (an inspiration of the Henson family kids) is in the midst of a significant expansion.  For now, I was most impressed with the diversity of artifacts on display representing everything from Balinese shadow puppets to Julie Taymor’s Lion King costumes to Pigs in Space.  Label copy and curatorial work is rather homespun but it is a space with lots of potential.



  4. Georgia Aquarium has an incredible array of animals and environments. Each tank is so full of biodiversity that it seems to scream – “you will never figure out everything that’s here.” The space makes use of lots of artificial environments and even fantasy to stimulate popular interest.  It is bright, bold and perhaps a bit corporate.

    Georgia Aquarium

    Georgia Aquarium

  5. College Football Hall of Fame – Atlanta’s newest attraction – makes the Aquarium seem sedate. There is absolutely no line here between corporate sponsorship, product placement and exhibit content… even the logo has ad type in it. Your first on-screen guide in the exhibit is the cow from the Chick-fil-a ad campaign.  The flashing screens and interactives are numerous and overlapping.  The signature technology is a badge you are given that “personalizes” your visit by recognizing your favorite college team and customizing the interactives to match the colors, mascot, song etc. of your alma mater (more exciting I think for someone who went to Michigan than to Brandeis).   And perhaps the bottom line is that this is a museum for people who would normally not be caught dead in a museum – and that may be an astute assessment of the market.

    College Football Hall of Fame

    College Football Hall of Fame

Google Glass

Google Glass

Speaking of technology – a lot of what’s new in the museum world can be found on the Museum Expo floor.  It is always fun trying out the latest gadgets.  Above you see me as a newbie to Google Glass.  The demonstration was designed to show that you could add a layer of content to a piece of art or old photograph on a very cool display.  My personal impression – the best part was being able to say “look at me wearing this great piece of technology”.  The content was underwhelming and who really thinks they want to have content sitting in their field of view – between you and the historic object.  Most of us want to get closer to something authentic, not have a layer that pushes us away.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality

My assessment of this very heavy set of immersive virtual reality glasses is not much better.  The content in this case was a first person perspective of Rosa Parks on the bus – as the bus driver and then a policeman get in your face.  The glasses allow you to look at the people behind you when you are being accosted – not sure that this is an “enhancement”.  Like the Google Glass these units are also a significant problem to maintain, as (for hygiene reasons) they need to be cleaned after every use.

But I don’t want you to think I am a complete Luddite.  There were two more modest pieces of hardware/software that really got me thinking.  The first were small display cases with thin LED projection surfaces on the front.  This case would allow you to “animate” the label copy superimposed on an object in a protected case.  No special glasses required and the price of the case is very competitive with other types of protective structures.  Two companies had prototypes on display.

The most impressive technology I saw was this simple (and almost free) telepresence system: http://www.venturerobotics.com/

Look at this for a moment and think of what it might mean for providing visitors access to spaces with physical barriers like the Lloyd Street Synagogue or environments with security concerns like vault space or access for global visitors.  Definitely going to begin a conversation here.  The expo provided proof, if any was needed, that the value of a gizmo is not to be found in its sleekness, complexity or price tag but rather the quality of the thought process about how it will be used.

By now you may be wondering – did you just spend your time visiting museums, touring technologies and making new contacts for JMM.  Well mostly… but I did spend some time at panels and in sessions that inspired fresh thinking about our work at JMM.  Especially useful were sessions on marketing, membership and recent psychographic studies of museum visitors’ interests.  I also attended a session entitled “Missouri Burning” about the response of the Missouri State Historical Society in St. Louis to the events in neighboring Ferguson.  If I had to describe this conference in one word – I think I would pick “timely.”

It was a week I needed some perspective and AAM gave me a full year’s supply.


Marvin PinkertA blog post by Museum Director Marvin Pinkert. To read more posts from Marvin click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Museum Matters, May 2015

Posted on May 1st, 2015 by

This has been a challenging week for all of us.  While we are grateful that JMM and its Historic Jonestown neighborhood were spared any physical harm in the events of the past few days, we are all scarred by the damage that the violence has caused to our city and deeply saddened by the underlying conditions that preceded the violence.

As I write this, none of us can be sure what comes next, but JMM is committed to be a part of the healing process.  As keepers of an important piece of the community’s records we know that our history has the ability to show us what we have overcome and to strengthen our will to build a better future.  You will find a piece of this history in the A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit – where Jews and Christians in early Baltimore worked together to break down walls of prejudice.  You will find a piece of this history in the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit – the story of how Jonestown rebuilt itself in the wake of the riots of 1968.  In our archives, we have hundreds of other images and records of personal courage in the pursuit of social justice in Baltimore – from Rabbi Einhorn’s support of abolition to the desegregation of Gwynn Oak Park.  We plan on setting up a pop-up exhibit of some of these images and records in the coming weeks.  We invite your ideas for moments, people and events that should be a part of this display – see Joanna’s call for material below.

To make sure that everyone knows they are welcome at JMM, we’re offering free admission this week.  We hope that people who have not visited us before will take advantage of this opportunity to join us in celebrating the work of young Braille artists on Sunday and to hear our outstanding lecture on the role of women in early American Jewish life Thursday night.  Our website is always a “go to” source for last minute information on these programs.

We have also made the decision to do something tangible to support the city’s rebuilding efforts.  Two weeks ago we had already planned the “Ultimate Mendes Cohen Experience” for May 17 (see below).  This bus tour, which begins with a trip down North Avenue to the site of Mendes’ grave at the Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery, has taken on new meaning.  It is a reminder that the Jewish experience is deeply entwined with many neighborhoods in the city we have long-forgotten or neglected.  JMM has decided to donate 50% of the money we collect for this tour for the fund established by The Associated for the rebuilding of areas of the city recently damaged.  I appeal to you to join us for this special event – you will not only discover a hidden past, but you will help enable a revitalized future.

Thank you for standing with JMM and Baltimore


Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

As Marvin mentioned above the JMM is putting together a pop-up exhibit featuring moments of social justice action from Maryland’s Jewish community. This striking image (from the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, from the Library of Congress collections) may not be from Baltimore, but it serves as the jumping-off point for a display of photos, documents, and artifacts we hope will facilitate discussion among our visitors, both of past movements and current events. Most importantly, the exhibit will include space for your thoughts, stories, and contributions. Please contact me, Joanna Church, Collections Manager, if you have material that could be of use: jchurch@jewishmuseummd.org or 410-732-6400 x226.

Upcoming programs

All programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland unless otherwise noted. Please contact Trillion Attwood at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org / 410-732-6400 x215 with any questions or for more information.


Learning Your Letters: Braille Art: Exhibit Reception
Sunday, May 3, 1:00-3:00pm, FREE

Learning Your Letters: Braille Art is presented by the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Braille Art Gallery. The exhibit features braille drawings by artists of all ages and all abilities, to promote braille literacy. The exhibit will be open to the public in the JMM lobby through May 3.

Sadie B. Feldman Family Lecture:
“One Apron…One handkerchief…2 brass Candlesticks”: America’s Jewish Women, the Early Years
Thursday, May 7, 7:00pm
Speaker: Pamela Nadell, American University

Join us as we celebrate Mother’s Day and take a closer look into the life of Mendes’ A-Mazing mother, Judith Cohen. Pamela Nadell of American University explores what it meant to be a Jewish woman and mother during the 18th and 19th centuries. In this lecture, as we learn more about the first Jewish women to make homes in America, we will also discover more about Judith Cohen’s son, “The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen.”

Mendes Cohen Bus Tour
Sunday, May 17, 9:00am
Tickets $30, $20 for JMM members

Tour Leader: Marvin Pinkert, Executive Director, Jewish Museum of Maryland

Walk in the footsteps of Mendes Cohen and join us for this ultimate experience, a bus tour of Mendes Cohen’s Baltimore led by JMM Executive Director, Marvin Pinkert. Mendes lived in Baltimore for most of his life and there are several fascinating locations awaiting exploration! We will spend the day visiting both sites of importance to Mendes and venues that now house some of his most valued possessions. The tour highlights Mendes Cohen and puts his story in a broader context of Baltimore and American Jewish history.

Venues will include the Maryland Historical Society, Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and a special cemetery visit.  All admission fees are included in this program. Please contact Trillion Attwood at tattwood@jewishmuseummd.org or 410.732.6400 ext.215 to purchase tickets. Places are limited so please book early.

The JMM has decided to donate 50% of the money we collect for this tour for the fund established by The Associated for the rebuilding of areas of the city recently damaged.  We hope you will join us for this special event – you will not only discover a hidden past, but you will help enable a revitalized future.

The Puzzle Project: Israel Celebration at the Jewish Museum of Maryland
Sunday, May 17, 12:00 – 4:00 pm
Reception: 2:00 pm

Students attending local Jewish day school and after school programs have participated in a creative art project that will be on display at the JMM on Sunday, May 17, 2015. The Puzzle Project, inspired and created by New York artist, Tim Kelly, allows art to be easily accessible to anyone who wants to create personally meaningful artwork. Students participating in the program express themselves individually and collectively on their shared vision on what Israel means to them on blank white, 18’’by 18” puzzle pieces. This program is co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Education and the Embassy of Israel.

Playing Jewish Geography in the Nineteenth Century: Mendes I. Cohen’s Travels to Europe and the Middle East, 1829-1835
Sunday, May 31, 1:00pm
Speaker: Prof. Daniel B. Schwartz, George Washington University
Included with Museum Admission

What might a Jew sailing from America to explore Jewish life in Europe and the Middle East in the nineteenth century likely have discovered in his travels? In this talk, Prof. Daniel B. Schwartz (George Washington University) will follow on the heels of Mendes I. Cohen’s voyage to and through the “Old World,” leading the audience on a tour of some of the major sites visited by Cohen from 1829 to 1835, and providing a mini-history of Jewish society in an age poised between tradition and change.


Annual Meeting
Sunday, June 7, 1:00pm
Samuel Boltansky Memorial Keynote Speaker: Senator Ben Cardin

The JMM is excited to welcome Senator Cardin as our keynote speaker for our 2015 Annual Meeting. Senator Cardin has enjoyed a long career in American politics. He was the youngest elected speaker in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1979 – 1986 and today serves as one of Maryland’s representatives to the United States Senate.  Senator Cardin will draw upon his personal experiences to discuss what it means to be a Jewish politician today, the significance of his strong Jewish roots and how they have impacted his political career.

The program begins at 1:00pm with a presentation of the FY 16 slate of nominees to the JMM’s Board of Trustees for election by the Museum’s membership. The lecture will follow.

Refreshments will be served.

Flag Day
Sunday, June 14, time TBD
Speaker: Michelle Pagan 
Included with Museum Admission

Help us bid a fond farewell to The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen this Flag Day. We will have something for everyone with related crafts and trivia games throughout the day. At 1:00, Michelle Pagan, the conservator who worked on the textiles in The Amazing Mendes Cohen, will discuss her work on the jacket and flag that are on display.


Exhibits currently on display include The A-mazing Mendes Cohen (on display through June 14, 2015), Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore, and The Synagogue Speaks!

On Display: April 15 through May 3
Learning Your Letters: Braille Art
Learning Your Letters: Braille Art is presented by the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the Braille Art Gallery. The exhibit features braille drawings by artists of all ages and all abilities, to promote braille literacy. The exhibit will be open to the public in our Museum lobby.

On Display: Sunday, May 17
The Puzzle Project: Israel Celebration at the Jewish Museum of Maryland
This one-day only exhibit features large-scale puzzle pieces decorated by students from local Jewish day and after-school programs that reflect their interpretations of what Israel means to them. Co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Education and the Embassy of Israel.

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 bnaiisraelcongregation.org.  For more of this month’s events from BIYA, please visit biyabaltimore.org or check out BIYA on facebook.

Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland May Meeting
Sunday, May 17, 1:30pm, the Pikesville Library’s meeting room
The Jews of Eastern Europe in the Age of Mass Migration, 1881-1914
(Program rescheduled from February)
Speaker: Dr. Kenneth Moss, Director of the Jewish Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University

The program is free for paid members and $5 for non-members. Refreshments will be available. Go to www.jgsmd.org for more information.
Hours and Tour Times

The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm.

Combination tours of the 1845 Lloyd Street Synagogue and the 1876 Synagogue Building now home to B’nai Israel are offered: Sunday through Thursday at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 2:00pm.  We offer tours focused on the Lloyd Street Synagogue, Sunday through Thursday at 3:00pm and on Sunday at 4:00pm.  Our new Lloyd Street “1845: Technology and the Temple” tour is available every Sunday and Monday at 3:00 until The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen closes in June 2015.

The Museum is closed on Sunday, May 24 and Monday, May 25 in observance of Shavuot.

Get Involved

The JMM is looking for volunteers to help staff our front desk, work in the gift shop, and lead tours as docents. No prior knowledge or training is required. All that is needed is an interest in learning about the JMM, our historic sites, exhibits, and programs and a desire to share this knowledge with the public. All volunteers are provided with thorough training. If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Ilene Cohen at 410.732.6400 x217 or icohen@jewishmuseummd.org.


Revamped and revitalized, membership at the JMM is now better than ever – with new categories, benefits, and discounts to enrich every visit to the Museum for you and your friends and families.

All members receive our monthly e-newsletter, along with a 10% discount at the Museum store, free general admission to the Museum, free admission to all regular programs, attendance at exclusive member opening events and discounted weekday parking at the City-owned garage at 1001 E. Fayette Street.

Your membership provides much needed funding for the many programs that we offer and we hope we can count on you for your continued support. Memberships can be purchased online! http://jewishmuseummd.org/get-involved/museum-membership/ For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or sfoard@jewishmuseummd.org.

JMM Museum Shop

Mother’s Day is just around the corner…Sunday, May 10!  The Museum Shop of the JMM has the perfect choice for a special gift for that special person. Our selection of jewelry is chosen with care, with a wide range of choices – come and visit the Shop, you will be surprised and your Mom will be delighted.  We will gift wrap your choice, mail it if needed, all in time for Mother’s Day!  Give us a call or visit the museum and make your gift giving a delightful experience.

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.

For further information, please call Esther Weiner, Museum Shop Manager, 410-732-6400, ext. 211 or email:  eweiner@jewishmuseummd.org

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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