JMM Insights: Gray in Black and White

There are times we are reminded that history is nothing more (or less) than the collection of lived experience. 

Over the last six weeks our curatorial team has been gathering stories and ephemera about the responses of Maryland’s Jewish community to COVID 19 (more on this in an upcoming issue of this newsletter). But it reminds me of the effort we made to collect materials on Jewish responses to the Baltimore Uprising.

Before we closed on March 17, we had been planning the launch of a small photography exhibit of works by documentarian J.M. Giordano, marking the 5th anniversary of these events. Giordano was collaborating with fellow Baltimore photographer Devin Allen on the exhibit and JMM was partnering with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum on companion programs – you may even remember receiving a postcard about it.

While the virus stood in the way of presenting the physical exhibit here at the Museum, it has challenged us to reach a much larger audience through our digital work. I hope you will join us on May 7 for our first livestream event since the start of quarantine, when both photographers join us for a meaningful discussion.


Image from the JMM Collections: Protest sign from a march/rally/protest held on May 1, 2015 in response to the ongoing uprising/unrest in Baltimore after the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray. Rally organized by Baltimore United for Change, SEIU, and CASA. JMM K2015.2.3.


On the fifth anniversary of the Baltimore Uprising that followed Freddie Gray’s death in police custody in April 2015, the Jewish Museum of Maryland is proud to host a digital collaboration between two Baltimore photographers, J.M. Giordano and Devin Allen.

Through this collection of photographs from the Uprising, Giordano, who is white, and Allen, who is black, collaborate to shed light and insight on their fellow Baltimoreans.We invite you to explore the moving photographs captured by Giordano, along with Allen’s curatorial statement and a special introduction from Evan Serpick.

At JMM we believe that people, place, things, learning, and actions all matter.  We feel strongly that we are not just located in Baltimore, but we are also integral to the fabric of the city and the state. If we’re going to be true to that notion, we must do what we can to respond to or amplify the voices of our neighbors.

On Thursday evening, May 7, 2020, one week from today, we hope you will join us for a special live stream event with both Giordano and Allen. Presented in partnership with the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, the two photographers will discuss their work, the anniversary of Gray’s death, and the lessons that still need to be learned.

This program is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute-Baltimore.

To help support our teachers, educators, and parent (and grandparent!) facilitators, we have also created a variety of activities to help students think deeply about the photos in this exhibit and the events they depict.


Scientists, writers, adventurers, and, yes, photographers, are just some of the many explorers in our world.

Try this Wondernauts activity and see what kind of explorer you are! We can’t wait to hear what you discover.


WWe think you’ll enjoy learning a lot from some of this week’s blog posts sharing stories from different voices, like the Disability Visibility Project  and Sadie Jacobs Crockin.


Explore some of the many stories of Baltimore, from Voices of Lombard Street to Glimpses of Jewish Baltimore to the   JMM collections at Esther’s Place: Online.

Don’t see something you’re interested in at the online shop? Contact Shop Manager Chris Sniezek at and let us know.


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