Museum Matters May 2013

Since I came to JMM last June, I have used this newsletter to share many “triumphs” large and small: the work of the futures committee, the expansion of our hours, the new partnerships with public schools, the fun programs like Gefiltefest and initiatives in membership, marketing and fundraising.  Even this last month has been filled with good news – 38% growth in year-over-year attendance for the quarter, 50% growth in the Board’s personal financial commitments over 3 years ago, outstanding media coverage – including the spectacular article in the travel section of the New York Times.  But today I must also share some sobering observations.

In a few weeks, museum colleagues from across the globe will gather in Baltimore for the annual conference of the American Alliance of Museums.  We have much in common with our guests – a commitment to building community, an effective approach to informal learning, and a drive to innovation.  Unfortunately, there is one more thing we share with too many of our fellow museums: the struggle to find financial security and the lingering effects of the 2008 financial crisis.

In 2008/2009 we suffered a one-two punch:  First a significant drop in value of our endowment portfolio, resulting in a roughly $100K average annual decline in revenue yield and second, the loss of a state funding program that supplied another $100K of our annual budget.  While we have had substantial success in fundraising for specific activities and programs over the last four years, we have never found a reliable replacement for these general operating funds and in several years we have relied on reserves to fill the gap.  Our reserves are now exhausted.

We know what needs to be done in the long-term to solve this problem:  We need to improve earned revenue and to increase the size of our endowment.  We will make this happen (with your help), but our realistic assessment is that it will take two to three years.  Faced with this reality, the Museum’s management and Board have had to make some difficult choices.

Starting June 1 we will be restructuring the JMM’s services.  We have elected to retain our capabilities in exhibition and education.  We will build on our success in generating new attendance and raising the visibility of the institution.  We will continue to strengthen our relationships with schools and expand our partnerships with agencies of The Associated.  We will redouble our efforts to seek private and public sector support for our activities.  And we will meet our obligations to preserve the extensive collection of materials documenting regional Jewish history.

However, there are some services that we will no longer be able to sustain in their current form.  The positions of the two staff members who support archival processing, research, family history, the library and publications are being eliminated.  Deb Weiner and Jennifer Vess have provided long and dedicated service to JMM and they will be sorely missed.  I ask for your patience as we work through the details of how we adjust our delivery of research and library services.  In addition to Deb and Jennifer, we will also be losing the able support of Sharon Buie, the organization’s administrative assistant.  Our whole team grieves at the thought of parting ways with such dedicated colleagues.

But our task is clear.  We need to focus our energies on building a strong and resilient Jewish Museum of Maryland.  We need to build a wider and deeper foundation of support so that all of our core activities can be restored in future years.  I am convinced that we can accomplish this if you will stand with us.



Museum Conference Coming Soon 

The JMM is delighted to announce our participation in the upcoming American Alliance of Museum (AAM) conference that is taking place in Baltimore May 19-22. This convention is expected to attract thousands of museum professionals from across the country for this premiere event that takes place at Baltimore’s Convention Center. Many JMM staff members are participating as volunteers as well as attending sessions that explore all facets of museum operations.  We look forward to hosting museum colleagues at the JMM throughout the week.

Of particular note are two special events that are open to the public:

Monday, May 20, 11-12:30

Onsite Insight: Everything Old is New Again (see details below in the program calendar)


 May 22, 10am – 5pm

Baltimore Museum Week 

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has declared May 19-24 as Baltimore Museum Week. Enjoy a celebration of our region’s museums and cultural institutions in conjunction with the AAM annual conference. Many area museums are offering buy-one / get-one free admission during the week.  The JMM will be offering this deal on Wednesday, May 22. For a full list of participating institutions, visit http:///


Upcoming Programs 

Please note that unless otherwise noted, all programs take place at the Jewish Museum of Maryland (15 Lloyd Street, Baltimore, MD 21202). For more information and to RSVP for specific programs, contact Rachel Cylus: (410) 732-6400 x215 / For more information on JMM events please visit


Happy Free Comic Book Day

Sunday, May 5


Mention this promotion and receive buy-one / get-one free admission to the JMM!


An Evening with Austrian Ambassador Dr. Hans Peter Mans

Thursday, May 9, 7-8:30pm

Admission: $10 with advanced registration / $15 at the door


Sponsors include: the JMM, AJC, B’nai Israel Young Adult, Moishe House and Baltimore Jewish Council.

Ambassador Manz, a career diplomat, will share his thoughts about Jewish life in Austria today, relations with the Jewish community in the U.S., and address key policy issues including the Austria-Israel bilateral relationship. Program includes a wine and cheese reception at the JMM.


Museums Love Mom: Mother’s Day Special at the JMM

Sunday, May 12, 10am-5pm

Bring your mother or grandmother to JMM and she will receive free admission for the day.


Onsite Insight: Everything Old is New Again

Monday, May 20 11am – 12:30pm

Free Admission

In honor of the Alliance of American Museums Conference, which will be held in Baltimore from May 19 – 22, we will hold a special free public seminar about our exciting new plans to interpret the Lloyd Street Synagogue. The JMM campus features two historic synagogues (1845; 1876) including the 3rd oldest in the nation. Recent initiatives embark on exciting new ways to interpret these old sites and draw repeat visitors: a multimedia exhibition, specialty tours focusing on unexpected themes, and a new series of dialogs with living history characters. Visit the Museum, tour the synagogues, and learn about the process involved in creating the specialty tours.


Tot Shabbat

Friday, June 7, 10:30am

Free Admission

Co-sponsored by the JCC

Please contact Kim Jacobsohn at, 443-248-4219 with any questions.

Join us on as we welcome Shabbat with singing, dancing, puppets and more. Your child will learn the blessings over the candles, wine (grape juice) and Challah. Families will also engage in a Jewish ritual craft project to take home. Following the program, JMM exhibits will be open for families to visit.


Annual Meeting – Save the Date

Sunday, June 9, 4pm

More details to follow.


Clark Kent’s Bar Mitzvah Party

Sunday, June 16, 1-4:00pm

$5 member individuals, $10 non-member individuals

$13 member families, $18 non-member families

Superboy becomes Superman!  Celebrate the opening of the new Man of Steel movie with a coming of age party of heroic proportions.  Enjoy music, food, games, prizes and crafts to reminisce about Clark Kent’s childhood and help him have a day no one will forget.

“Through the Eye of the Needle: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz” – film screening

Tuesday, June 18, 6:30pm

This program is free and will take place at the Myerberg Senior Center

3101 Fallstaff Road, Baltimore, MD 21209 

More than 40 years after the Holocaust, Esther Nisenthal Krinitz began creating fabric collage and embroidery panels to tell her story of survival.  Esther’s daughter, Bernice Steinhardt, will screen and discuss the award winning documentary, Through the Eye of the Needle, and the book, Memories of Survival, chronicling her mother’s experiences and artwork.

Through the Eye of the Needle is a film by Nina Shapiro-Perl and is a production of Art and Remembrance.


Comic Themed Super Art Fight

Sunday, June 30, 1:00pm

Program is free with Museum admission

Super Art Fight is a mixture of live art, pro-wrestling style characters and storytelling and a dash of hilarious, improvised commentary, which makes for a show unlike anything else in the world today.  Take part in a special ZAP! POW! BAM! themed Super Art Fight.



The JMM is pleased to share our campus with B’nai Israel Congregation. The following programs are taking place there this month:

May 15th – All Day Learning following Shavuot Services

May 18th – Support Our Shul Harbor Cruise aboard the Black Eyed Susan

May 23rd – Rabbi Yuter will give a public lecture at 7pm

May 30th – B’nai Israel Young Adult at Camden Yards

For more information about B’nai Israel events and services for Shabbat and Shavuot visit or or check out BIYA on facebook 

Baltimore is fortunate to have not just one but two Jewish museum experiences within a 50 mile radius. In each month’s Museum Matters, we are pleased to share with you programs taking place at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington.


Program Recap: We Will Never Die

Image We Will Never Die

Seventy years ago Ben Hecht’s pageant We Will Never Die alerted official Washington to the Holocaust. Our friends at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington commemorated the anniversary this month with a special program. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and seven Supreme Court justices attended the original performance at Constitution Hall.

This moving program included dramatic readings, remarks by two academics, and the remembrances of a Holocaust survivor.

To learn more about programs offered by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, visit their website!

Space Still Available on Walking Tours!

There’s still time to join DC’s Jewish Historical Society on their spring walking tours of Arlington National Cemetery (May 5) and Downtown Jewish Washington (May 19). JMM Members get a $5 discount!


Exhibits currently on display at the JMM include ZAP! POW! BAM! The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950; Voices of Lombard Street: A Century of Change in East Baltimore; and The Synagogue Speaks! 


The JMM is open Sunday-Thursday, 10am – 5pm. We offer tours of our historic synagogues each day at 11:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00.


Please note that our Museum is closed the following dates: Wednesday, May 15 and Thursday, May 16 in observance of Shavuot and Monday, May 27 for Memorial Day.


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


We have officially launched our new membership program. 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 will 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. For more information about our membership program, please contact Sue Foard at (410) 732-6400 x220 or


For that special wonder woman in your life, check out the JMM Gift Shop for an array of fabulous mother’s day gifts.

shop 10_31_2012 052Wonder Woman Shopper Tote (2)






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