Donate to Our Collections
JMM has the largest single collection of regional Jewish Americana in the U.S. Our collections include photographs and portraits, rare books and everyday objects, clothing, Judaica, documents, oral histories, and memorabilia.
JMM collects artifacts, photographs, documents, and other materials that tell stories of Jewish life in Maryland, from the 18th century to the present day.
What We’re Looking For
JMM accepts into its collections only those items that relate to its mission, that complement or strengthen existing collections, and that can be given proper storage and care. Generally, we accept only donations that are given without restriction. As an accredited museum, JMM meets the highest standards of professional care in its collections management.
Our scope of collections is wide-ranging, and includes:
- Letters, documents, and records of Maryland Jewish families, businesses, and organizations
- Clothing, accessories, toys, household goods, and other everyday items made, owned, or used by Maryland Jews
- Ceremonial objects (Judaica), if used in Maryland Jewish homes or synagogues
- Memorabilia, souvenirs, and ephemera relating to Maryland Jewish travel, vacations, entertainment, social life, summer camp, congregations, and community organizations
- Photographs, home movies and videos, sound recordings and other media that reflect Jewish life and culture in Maryland
- Reference books and materials on history, popular culture, and genealogy as relates to Maryland and Jewish history
For the most part, we are unable to accept religious books and recordings (in English, Hebrew, or Yiddish), or art by Jewish artists or on a Jewish theme – unless there is a story that ties such pieces to a particular Maryland Jewish place, person, or event.
Donation offers are reviewed quarterly by our Collections Committee to determine if they are appropriate for the collections, and if we have the means to hold and care for them in the public trust. As a leading repository of regional Jewish Americana, we add materials to the collections deliberately, carefully, and selectively. Much as we sometimes wish we could, we can’t accept everything!
Current Collecting Initiatives
Preserving the Present
Here at JMM, we’ve been reflecting on how to document our communities’ experiences of the moment we’re living through together. We recognize that individuals have reacted differently to these times. Many of us have limited bandwidth, but the activities we find challenging vary. We also find healing and catharsis in different areas of our lives. With these differences in mind, JMM has created Preserving the Present, a project featuring several contemporary collecting initiatives.
This project offers a series of written prompts that will allow you to reflect on your own experiences in 2020-21 and imagine our shared future. We want to hear your story and preserve it for generations to come.
Whether you write a single sentence for each prompt or a collection of short essays, Gathering Stories offers a space to share your experience in your own words.
Collecting These Times
In partnership with the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM), JMM is proud to participate in Collecting These Times: American Jewish Experiences of the Pandemic, an oral history initiative. Using TheirStory, a web-based video recording software, this project invites community members to share their stories safely from home.
Interested in being interviewed or in interviewing others? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
This project is made possible with the generous support of the Chronicling Funder Collaborative.
Reflections in Quarantine: Sharing Jewish Stories with Story Aperture
We’re excited to partner with the Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA) and the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) to help preserve the stories of JMM community members during these challenging times. This is a moment in which Jewish life is responsive and changing in the face of the pandemic, the protests, and the election. We recognize this is a critical moment to be collecting the Jewish experience in America, and we want to learn about your experiences.
We invite you to share your story with us using Story Aperture—JWA’s story-collecting mobile app that guides people of all genders through the process of conducting an interview or telling one’s own story. The app features a set of suggested questions, “Reflections in Quarantine,” to help us capture this cultural moment as it continues to unfold. As you save your story in the app, please make sure to include “Jewish Museum of Maryland” in the title of the recording to ensure the story is properly catalogued and shared with us. Download Story Aperture today from your go-to app store, and together we will preserve our communal narrative!
History is Now: JMM Collects Stories of the Pandemic
We’re looking for your stories of life during the COVID-19 public health crisis! As a museum, we actively collect materials related to the events, past and present, that impact our audiences and communities.
This pandemic, which has affected nearly every aspect of daily life for Jewish Maryland, the City of Baltimore, our Jonestown neighbors, and other communities all across the state, definitely qualifies as one of those events. We believe it is important to gather and preserve personal stories, not only to help the historians of the future understand this moment in time, but also to help people today realize the many different ways the pandemic is affecting our family, friends, and neighbors.
Your words can be in whatever format you prefer: written (poetry, a journal entry, a letter, an essay, or just some scribbled thoughts) or recorded (on your phone, with a fancy camera, or maybe through your laptop or tablet). Photos and drawings can be used to illustrate your words, or stand alone as a record of your experience.
Send your words and photos, and offers of objects, to Joanna Church, Director of Collections & Exhibits, at email@example.com or
Jewish Museum of Maryland
15 Lloyd Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
Attn: Joanna Church
Make sure to include your name, hometown or location, and age in your email or letter to us, and let us know how you would like us to attribute and share your work – use the questions on the form as guidance.
We hope you will submit your experiences and stories — through words, images, or objects — to help us preserve the memories and experiences of Jewish Maryland for future generations.
How to Donate to JMM
Do you have something that you think we would be interested in adding to our collections? We’ll be happy to learn more! Here’s how the process works, and some important points to consider before making an offer.
- Gather as much information as you can about the item(s): size, condition, history, previous owners, context. Where, and how, was it used? When was it made? Who owned it, and why was it saved? The more details you can give us, the better our discussion at the Committee meeting, and the more likely it is that we’ll accept your generous offer. Photographs are very helpful, as are lists if you have multiple pieces.
- Contact us with your offer: Joanna Church, Director of Collections and Exhibits at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-873-5176
- If JMM staff think your offer will be of interest to the Committee, we will present it at the next meeting. We do not need to have the materials physically on hand at that stage, although if you need the materials to leave your possession sooner rather than later, we can make arrangements. A temporary custody receipt will be created for any items given to the Museum before the Committee has made its decision.
- If the Committee approves some or all of your offer, the materials will be formally presented to the full Board of Directors at their quarterly meeting.
- Once formal approval has been made, JMM staff will contact you to arrange pick-up or delivery, and/or complete the Deed of Gift transferring title to the Museum.
Important things to consider before and during the donation process:
- All donations must come to the Museum free of restrictions. Once a Deed of Gift is signed, all rights and interests are transferred to the JMM, and the gift cannot be returned to the donor. We encourage you to consult with all interested parties and family members before making a donation offer to the Museum.
- The Museum makes no promises that donations will be displayed at any particular place or time. However, that does not mean that our collections are simply stored away. Any materials accepted into the collections have a potential use, whether for exhibition, research, or publication. Collections are made accessible whenever possible, and can be viewed or researched by appointment.
- We do our best to notify donors whenever an item is on exhibit.
- IRS regulations prohibit museum staff from making any appraisals or valuations of donated materials, nor can we recommend specific appraisers. We will be happy to direct you to appraiser resources to assist you in finding an appropriate expert.
- Processing a new collection takes time. Although we do our best to provide digital access – through our online database, or scans of donated items when requested – as quickly as possible after materials are formally accepted, we thank you for your patience while we work to catalog everything as thoroughly as possible.
- If we are unable to accept an offer, we will do our best to suggest alternatives. Our goal is to find the right place for your materials, even if the right place is not the JMM.
Questions? Want to run a possible donation by us? Let us know!
Joanna Church at email@example.com
For information on how to make a monetary donation to the JMM, please click here.