JMM Insights: Gathering Stories

This week’s edition of JMM Insights comes from Director of Collections Joanna Church

A curious aspect of this past year is the way so many of us are so very aware that we are living through history, and that we should preserve the experience for the future. Perhaps more than at any other turbulent time in the past, we now have the means to digitally capture and share every moment. Many museums and organizations are benefiting from this, as we ask the public to share that documentation with us. 

Maggie has beautifully summed up the value of this sort of current-events collecting: By documenting current events and social movements as they occur, we strengthen the historical record, avoid the loss of important content, and generate collections that invite critical thinking about our present experiences.” You’ve heard about and participated in our own collecting initiatives here at the JMM, and you’ve likely done the same for other museums. At the same time, you may be very tired of talking about COVID-19.

Frankly, while our Preserving the Present initiative will continue to have value, we would love to be able to say we’re wrapping up the pandemic portion. Unfortunately, we’re not out of the woods yet, but there is light between the trees. So if you need ideas on what to share with us, let’s add that light to our story collecting!  What is your vaccination story? Did you dress up? (I love this recent story from the Sun about a bride who wore the reception dress she never got to wear.) How are you celebrating? Where do you plan to go once everything opens up? Let us know!

JMM Board Member Duke Zimmerman shared this light-hearted photo for our collections:

“This is me, just before getting my second vaccination shot at Northwest Hospital Center, February 15, 2021. Do I look a bit concerned?  Look at the nurse behind me!” JMM CP 2021.1.1.

We have a wide variety of ways to contribute to Preserving the Present; our hope is to facilitate expressing and sharing your experience whether your thing is journaling, photography, illustration, or just a conversation. And of course, there are many, many other things happening in Maryland and the world that you may want to share with us; the pandemic is not the only story in which we’re interested. We encourage you to take a look at these options, and if you see something of interest, please join us!

Pausing Together: Journaling with JMM, a special community series beginning May 12, 2021.

Beginning on May 12th at 12:30 pm, JMM will offer a space weekly for communal writing and reflection. Join us for thirty minutes every Wednesday; members of the JMM team will offer prompts to guide your writing, or you can take inspiration from elsewhere.

If you are interested in donating your completed work to the JMM for our Preserving the Present collection, we would be delighted – but it is not a requirement.

One registration will get you in for as many weeks as you choose to attend. However, space is limited, so we encourage you to sign up today.

Gathering Stories logo
Gathering Stories 

Whether you write a single sentence for each, or a collection of short essays, this series of prompts offers an opportunity for reflection and storytelling.

Have your values shifted since early 2020? What might your healing process look like? Have you noticed any silver linings?

We’d love to add your perspective to our collections.

Screenshot from a Collecting These Times interview of Rabbi Kim Blumenthal, conducted by JMM volunteer Lynn Witkin-Weinstein, January 2021.

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.

Interested in being interviewed or in interviewing others? Email to get involved. This project is made possible with the generous support of the Chronicling Funder Collaborative. 

Reflections in Quarantine

We’re partnering with the Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA) and the Council of American Jewish Museums (CAJM) on Reflections in Quarantine: Sharing Jewish Stories with Story Aperture. We invite you to share your story with us using Story Aperture—JWA’s video 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!

For more information about Story Aperture, visit

History Is Now

Interested in donating materials directly to JMM? Use this form to easily submit your work. Whether it’s a poem, an essay, or a snapshot that captures life right now, we’d love to see it. Photos and drawings can be used to illustrate your words, or they can stand alone as a record of your experience. 

The above image is a donation from Rachel Kassman: 
Over the course of the pandemic I dove in to a new hobby – quilting. These handsewn, English paper piecing hexies represent quite a few things. The petals of the brown and tan flower are made of scrap fabric from the quilt my grandmother, Shirley Kassman, made for me – she passed away in January 2021. The bright pink flower is made from fabric scraps from the first small quilt I made for myself in early 2020 (the pink paisley petals are from a long-saved favorite pair of pants). The purple petals on the third flower are scraps left over from some of the first handsewn masks I made in spring 2020.

Interested in donating an object of your own to our collections? Email to learn more. Keep an eye on our current collecting initiatives for more ways to add your story to our collections. Questions? Email

Celebrating the Remarkable
Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 1:00pm Eastern

Celebrate Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer as she receives her first honorary doctorate from an Israeli university, bestowed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz and honor Toni Young, AABGU past president, for her remarkable leadership and vision, Philip Gomperts, newly retired director of AABGU’s Southwest Region, for his extraordinary fundraising achievements.

Register here.

Reminder: Executive Director Sol Davis is holding weekly office hours to meet you! Make an appointment for a virtual visit and share your thoughts, ideas, and aspirations for JMM.

 Click to schedule an appointment now!

Esther’s Place: Online Shopping Survey

With this pandemic, we have all changed our shopping habits. Take this quick survey to help us collect some data to better serve you!

Collections Museum Stories News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.