Intern Weekly Response: Midterm Check In!
Every week we’re asking our summer interns to share some thoughts and responses to various experiences and readings. This week, which represents the halfway point in their internships, we asked them to reflect on the work and learning they’ve done thus far, and what theyre looking forward to in the weeks ahead. To read more posts from JMM interns, past and present, click here.
~From Intern Hannah
I recently wrote a post on my experience in this first month of this internship. I’ve had a really great time this summer and I have learned a lot so far. Obviously, what I’ve learned hasn’t changed much since my check in last week, but I have made some progress on the projects I discussed in that post. In my last post, I mentioned that I created an educational game to increase engagement in the bottom floor of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. Since that post, I had the opportunity to test my game on museum visitors. This past Tuesday, we had a visit from the summer camp at the McKim Center, one of the museum’s neighbors. We taught the kids, ages five to eleven, about the history of the Jonestown neighborhood. Many of the campers are from this neighborhood, so it was great to see them connecting in a new way with their own home.
I created a game to increase engagement with one of the educational tools that are often underused when groups are given tours around the Synagogue. The Museum has these flash cards with Catholic and Jewish ritual items and other objects on it, along with definitions of these items. Right now, these cards live in the bottom floor of the Synagogue but are not engaged with often or integrated into a concrete activity. I devised a way to use these cards in group tours that engage the kids and help them to learn about the different religious communities who called Lloyd Street home. It was very interesting to see a game that I worked so hard on in real life. It really gave me a reality check as to what is age appropriate for certain groups, and what makes sense to fit in a small-time frame. It did not go exactly as I had planned, but that is not a bad thing.
After running the game twice with the McKim campers, I now have a better understanding on how to perfect it, and it will hopefully be used in more group tours to come. I had not created an educational activity from scratch like that before, and it felt great to see all the kids have fun learning about Christian and Jewish items and their similarities. Through the de-brief with the rest of the education team afterwards, I was able to hear the educator’s opinions on the activity, which was very rewarding and gave me great ideas for the improvement of this activity. I am looking forward to the opportunity to not only refine my game and create a formal lesson plan, but to perhaps try it again with another group of campers over the course of the summer.
In my blog post last week, I also mentioned the work I’ve been doing for upcoming programs focusing on future exhibits, especially Scrap Yard and Jews in Space. I’ve continued this programming and have been given other projects to work on related to programming that doesn’t connect to a certain exhibit. I have been researching movies to show on move nights (which means lots of movie trailers!) and searching for good lecturers to come visit the JMM. This has been really exiting as I feel I have a real part in the planning of JMM events.
I have had the ability to sit in on meetings about Scrap Yard and other upcoming exhibits, I am so excited to see the exhibit come to life before me. I am honored to have played a small role in the creation of educational materials and programs associated with these programs. Even though the internship will be over when all of these exhibits open, I am looking forward to coming back to see them. It is so satisfying to see programs and other projects you work on come to fruition, which I have realized even more so after piloting my game, so I cannot wait to see more of my summer work come to the public.
I am excited to see all the things that I have been working on thorough the summer come to fruition. I am looking forward to playing my game with more school and camp groups to come. I am also looking forward to more museum trips and workshops led by JMM staff members. In the upcoming weeks, we will have workshops on planning public programs, museum ethics, and project management. We will be visiting the Reginald F. Lewis museum, one of our neighbors here in Jonestown. We will also be making a group field trip to Washington DC next week, which is very exciting. I will also have to opportunity to survey museum visitors on their experience to better understand what visitors want, so that the museum can best plan exhibits and programs in the future. I can’t wait to see where the last five weeks of this internship takes me.
~From Intern Elana
Throughout my college career, I’ve spent a lot of time in museums. However, my internship so far at the Jewish Museum of Maryland has been completely new and exciting. At the halfway point of my time here, I would like to reflect on how this internship has been so different than my museum experiences of the past.
Before my internship at JMM, I had never worked in an identity museum or a historical museum. Thus, the material that I have been able to work with this summer is unlike any of the material I have worked with in the past. In my courses and in other museums, I’ve worked with textiles, stone, and pottery, but here, I’ve worked with photographs and documents. Outside of the collections world, that may not sound like the most dramatic difference, but knowing how to handle, organize, and care for documents and photographs is incredibly different than caring for ceramics or lithics. Over the past five weeks, I’ve learned how to best work with historical and archival materials and gained valuable collections management experience.
In working with the JMM’s collections, I’ve had the opportunity to learn a great amount about the Jewish community in Maryland throughout history. Before working here, I had no idea that Jews in Baltimore date back so early in Jewish American history and as a Jew from New Jersey, I knew very little about the Baltimore Jewish community. As I have explored the collection, I have been able to see how similar the community I grew up in and the Jewish community in Baltimore were. I have also been about to see the nuances that make the Jewish community in Baltimore so special and unique.
One of the projects I have found to be the most enlightening on the Jewish community in Baltimore has been the research my fellow intern Mallory and I are currently working on. These past few days, Mallory and I have been going through the entire Har Sinai Congregation collection and optimizing its organization. Despite how daunting the task seemed, we took it on enthusiastically. At times, going through each and every file and document seems tedious, but reflecting upon the work we have done, I realize how much we learned about the synagogue, the congregation, the individuals who made up the Har Sinai community, and the time that these each of these individuals lived in. In looking through the collection, I have seen trends in writing, technology, synagogue function, gender roles, the Jewish community, and more.
So far, my time at the JMM has provided me with experiences that I’ve never had before. From my work with the collections to the workshops led by the incredibly knowledgeable staff, the time I’ve spent at the JMM has taught me so much about the museum world that I never knew before and I look forward to learning even more as the summer continues.
~From Intern Ariella
It’s been five weeks. That’s pretty hard to believe- it seems like just a few days ago I was taking my first tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue and walking through Stitching History from the Holocaust and Fashion Statement.
Going back to the Synagogue and the exhibits, though, I realize that I know a lot more about them now than I used to. Because I’m working with the Education department, I’ve been on many more tours of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. On my first day, I was fascinated by the story of the three groups of people that made the building their space over the years. A few days ago, I was able to watch as kids experienced the Synagogue for themselves. I always smile when they shout “Shabbat Shalom” as they’re leaving the building, proud of the Hebrew letters that they learned.
I’ve grown familiar with Stitching and Fashion, too. When school and camp groups visit the exhibits, they often choose to see these two. Stitching tells the story of a Czech dress maker and her husband, who both perished in the Holocaust. Fashion’s got a focus on clothing as a means for personal expression. I’m always struck by the concepts that excite the kids. They look at both exhibits very differently than I do – perhaps that’s to be expected, but it always takes me by surprise.
The Lloyd Street Synagogue is a permanent fixture of the JMM (and I hope to start leading tours there at some point – fingers crossed). Stitching and Fashion, though, will be replaced in time with new exhibits. Scrap Yard: Innovators of Recycling is debuting in October, while Jews in Space is arriving late next spring.
If you want to get excited about Scrap Yard but have no idea how garbage can be interesting, don’t worry! I, a young adult with no connection to the scrap industry, was fascinated while reading the script for the exhibit. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I would about the history of junk yards and why they matter today. It’s actually really cool stuff- and there’s lots of people who grew up surrounded by scrapping, or who made a career in learning more about it. As part of my work with the Public Programs department, I’ve been searching for people who can speak about their scrapping passion. I’ve also helped plan out related programs and workshops for kids.
Jews in Space is a long way away, but the preparation has already begun. Hannah and I wrote an Educator’s Guide to the exhibit, designed for teachers. There’s one for Jewish day schools and one for secular schools. The Guide preps the kids for the exhibit, provides glossaries of terms, and includes post-visit activities to reinforce what was learned. I’m looking forward to planning public programs for Jews in Space as well.
I also really enjoy the workshops we have. About once a week, a different staff member leads a session for the interns to learn about a different topic in museum work. Some of them, such as the workshop on museum evaluation, have follow up assignments – my evaluation task is coming up in a few weeks.
If you come by the Museum, there’s a chance that you’ll see me. I’ve been trained to work the front desk and the gift shop as well. I had to learn how to use Altru, a membership and data software. It’s been nice to use it, as it’s a completely new software to me, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.
That’s a pretty solid summary of what I’ve been working on. The next five weeks are sure to bring a lot more to learn.
~From Intern Mallory
It’s surreal that it’s only been five weeks, it feels like the internship just started. And while I’ve had experiences in archives and worked with collections before, the experiences I’ve gained from these past few weeks at JMM have been amazing and like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
My past internships have been focused on a specific set of collections, which I loved. But I only learned and experiences the stories from that specific collection, not getting to fully explore all the options presented in the different archives. Which is something I love about my time thus far at JMM, I’ve worked with several different collections and interacted with new methods that I hadn’t used before.
As I talked about in a previous blog post, I love hearing other’s stories, learning about their lives, what they went through, how they are doing; and how their story connects to a larger interconnected community. It’s something that’s always inspired me since I was a child. And being able to work with all of these different collections has allowed me to learn more about individuals, and the community as a whole.
As a collections intern I work with the collections; photographs, objects, artworks, and archival records – amongst others. Within the past few weeks I’ve work with artworks and inventory, with manuscript collections and with general processing of items within the collections. While I knew how to generally process collections, I learned how to work with manuscript collections – something I didn’t know before. I’ve been able to work with two different manuscript collections: The Hutzler Brothers Company collection and, more recently, the Har Sinai collection. I was also able to work with a variety of other files, from a variety of collections – going through and filling in more information about various items after going through the collections and archives to pull out what I needed.
Going forward, with half the summer still ahead, I’d love to continue to explore the skills I’ve learned within the past half of my internship. I also cannot wait to learn more, both about this community and more skills. Only halfway through and I’ve already learned so much and cannot wait to learn more.
~From Intern Megan
It is hard to believe that I am already at the halfway point of my internship at the JMM; time really does fly. I feel that I have learned a great deal so far and am confident that I will continue to do so throughout the entirety of the internship.
I have also been able to practice my writing skills by learning how to write appeal and follow up letters. Further, part of my research allowed me to learn more about how to captivate an audience in writing and specifically in fundraising letters. I feel this is a great and very applicable skill to have. I have also had the privilege of joining board and grant meetings that have taught me a ton about how the museum functions. Additionally, I have had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with my supervisors and ask about different roles within the museum and how they differ from one another.
Both are extremely relevant and important skills to have as they can be used at almost any job. I am also particularly excited to attend and help at two upcoming fundraising events to see how these events are programmed.
Overall, I feel that I am having a great experience that allows me to improve established skills and to gain new ones. I am also extremely thankful to have two very supportive supervisors who have taught me a lot.