Monday, June 29, 2009

LSS Wins a Baltimore Heritage Award!

The award!

JMM in the program. (Sorry for the lo-res cell phone pic.)

About two weeks ago, I attended Baltimore Heritage's annual awards reception. I was joined by representatives from JRS Architects and Ruff Roofers as we (and everyone else who has worked on the preservation project) were honored for the work we've done so far on the LSS. The reception was held at the beautiful Garrett-Jacobs Mansion on Mt. Vernon Place. While I was there, I had the chance to check out the Tiffany stained glass windows and put face with several names and voices. We sincerely thank Johns W. Hopkins and all of the members of Baltimore Heritage for recognizing the work we've done to preserve Baltimore's heritage.

The LSS Project attendees with BHI President, Will Backstrom

Tiffany stained glass

Friday, June 26, 2009


While kids at summer camp engage in COLOR WARS, pitting bunk against bunk in a series of athletic challenges, the collections interns take on collections staff in PENCIL WARS! Stop shuddering nervous moms! No one is throwing pencils. No one is running with a sharpened writing implement. PENCIL WARS is the brain child of Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink (you may also know her from such blog posts as Wait, what are they doing with that goat?) and Intern Treats and Prizes Coordinator Rachel Kassman to increase the excitement and productivity of all those working on collections inventory. (After a week of working in the basement non-stop the moral seems to drop a little and the excitement of discovering new items starts to wear off).

A rainbow of writing implements on display!

And lo! PENCIL WARS was born: a contest to see who can use the MOST pencils down to the nub in a week. I, Jobi Zink, a.k.a. Sr. Collections Manager, a.k.a. Registrar, a.k.a. Intern Wrangler, have a colorful assortment of pencils and everyone can pick their own. This not only lets everyone pick a pencil that best expresses their personality (you might be surprised at who chooses the Hello Kitty pencils!) but also actually helps people keep track of their pencils so we don’t have 22 floating around where they can roll off the table and get underfoot, causing a potential hazard!

Honorable retirement for the pencils of years past.

All kidding aside, there’s a legitimate reason for bringing PENCIL WARS to life: when working in collections, museums only use pencils: They are reversible! They do considerably less damage to collections items then pens! Working with a sharpened pencil makes writing more legible (when dealing with object numbers this is especially important: 8 and 3, 4 and 9, 1 and 7 can all be hard to distinguish and you definitely don’t want to write in the wrong number during inventory)!

Berkley, Sean, Alison and Kim proudly present their pencils for inspection.

In a show of ream solidarity Rachel, Jobi and Jenn show off their matching unicorn competition pencils.

Interns vs. staff? That seems a little unfair, after all, collections staff has the advantage of knowing what the objects are (identification does slow our interns down a bit) and of knowing how to resolve untagged/mistagged/double tagged items without asking for help. BUT the interns get to dedicate uninterrupted time to the inventory project whereas the poor collections staff is stuck doing the rest of our jobs too: exhibition planning, meeting donors, working on grant applications…the list never seems to get any shorter! Plus, there are 4 of them (interns) and only 3 of us (staff)!


To get things rolling, we needed to make sure we knew how long everyone’s pencils were! Here are the measurements:

Kim: 6 ¼” Berkley: 5 5/8” Alison: 4 ¾” Sean 4 ¾”

Jenn, Rachel and Jobi, starting with new pencils, measure in at 6 ¾”

(well, Jenn started using hers so technically she’s at 6 3/8”).

So what’s in it for the winners? Well, the team with the highest number of pencil-inches-used will win a fabulously assortment of treats and prizes, along with the requisite bragging rights! PLUS the intern who inputs the MOST data for collections inventory will win a SUPER SECRET EVEN MORE FABULOUS PRIZE!

Now aren’t you jealous? Let the PENCIL WARS begin!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Once Upon A Time Photos: 6.12.09

The Baltimore Jewish Times publishes unidentified photographs from the collection of Jewish Museum of Maryland each week. Click here to see the most recent photo on their website. If you can identify anyone in these photos and more information about them, contact Jobi Zink, Senior Collections Manager and Registrar at 410.732.6400 x226 or

Date(s) run in Baltimore Jewish Times: 6/12/09

PastPerfect Accession #: 1998.142.067


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bones in the Synagogue, Part II

So, they're animal bones. Peter Middleton, the archaeological team lead from last summer, made a quick onsite visit to check them out for me. He assured me, much to the disappointment of the mystery fans on staff, that the bones were from slaughtered poultry and beef. The worker who found the bones told me that the soil was ashy, which Peter says may indicate that it was once the location of a trash bin or pile. It is also possible that rats may have carried the bones from the actual trash pile, but given the size of the beef bones, that seems at least somewhat unlikely.

As an interesting side note, when human remains are found, all work must immediately stop, and medical investigators and the police must be called in. For some reason, lamb bones often fool investigators.

the bones themselves

where the bones were found

Photos taken by Berkley Kilgore.

Bones in the Synagogue!

Yes, you read that correctly. There are bones in the synagogue. They were found against the North wall in the bathroom on the lower level. I am waiting for the archaeologist to arrive as I type, so when I get more information, you'll be the first to know.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wait, what are they doing with that goat?

STRANGE CUSTOMS: The Flurry Family Odyssey

In addition to fabulous exhibitions, exciting programs and all the day-to-day craziness that is just a part of museum life, the JMM is host to another, very special group: Team Liechtenstein of Fluid Movement 2009!

Shannon and Jobi address the troops.

Team Liechtenstein, fearlessly led by Senior Collections Manager Jobi Zink and "Shining" Shannon Twenter, has been using the JMM lobby (after hours, of course) to gear up for this summer's Annual Water Ballet, STRANGE CUSTOMS: The Flurry Family Odyssey.

The Drinkers show off their dancing prowess.

These Olympic Hopefuls are going for the skiing gold!

The Milkmaids are...dubious about the goat.

The Wonderful World of Liechtenstein

Fun Liechtensteinian Facts!

  • Liechtenstein is the 6th smalled nation, based on area (62 square miles)

[to give you a sense of scale, Baltimore city is 92 square miles]

  • Measured north to south, Liechtenstein is about 15 miles long
  • Per capita, Liechtenstein leads the world in Olympic medals; it is bidding for 2018 Olympics
  • All 9 Olympic medals won by Liechtenstein have been in Alpine skiing
  • Liechtenstein has no airport; it does have a heliport
  • The train from Zurich to Liechtenstein doesn't actually stop in Liechtenstein (it stops on either side of its borders)
  • Liechtenstein's best known commodity is the postage stamp; it s is the country's single greatest source of revenue [so few people live there that philatelists would pay large sums of money for stamps from the country.] They have a Postmuseum.
  • Typical food might be hirschwurst (venison sausage) and horseradish cream; bergsteigerssen is another dish consisting of pasta, sausage, speck, cheese & zucchini
  • The literacy rate in Liechtenstein is 100%
  • Liechtenstein might claim the most cowbells in any country (almost all cows have a bell)
  • Liechtenstein leads the world in dental ceramics
  • A typical drink is a stamperin of schnapps; and lager
  • Falconing is a big sport
  • The Prince of Liechtenstein is the worlds 6th wealthiest leader
  • The U.S. Does not have an embassy in Liechtenstein; it is Switzerland's job to keep good relations between Switzerland, the U.S. and Liechtenstein

Come See Team Liechtenstein wow the crowd at:

Riverside Park Pool in Federal Hill (1800 Covington Street)
Saturday and Sunday July 25 and 26, 2009 at 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm


Patterson Park Pool (South Linwood Avenue near Eastern Avenue)*
Sunday August 2, 2009 at 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm

* Fluid Movement’s 10th Anniversary Benefit Gala Pool Party and Show is Saturday August 1, 2009 at 5:30 pm at the Patterson Park Pool. Tickets are $30.00, children 10 yrs. and under are $10.00 (these prices are for the benefit gala pool party/show only).

Check out Fluid Movement of Years Past!

The Secret Lives of Interns: Week 3

Marketing Intern Rebecca Berg puts her nose to the grindstone!

This week we welcomed yet another intern into the flock, Rebecca Berg. Rebecca is splitting her time between marketing and programs and we lost no time in putting her to work!

Monday, Alison got a real taste of what it means to work at a small museum!

This past week I learned that jobs working in a museum are not always as glamorous as they may seem on the outside and you get distracted very easily. For example, I was on my way down in the basement to take the temps and humidity on Monday and was pulled into storage room 1 to help (just for a minute...) with putting up shelving. About an hour and a half later, we had moved 2 shelves and added 2 on the top. While this may not have been what I had planned for the day, it was something that needed to be done. Like I've often heard at JMM - it was "all hands on deck." – Alison

Karen explains the finer points of pulling objects for research.

Kim and Abby also spent some time in the basement Monday and Tuesday, assisting curator Karen Falk who is working on an upcoming Jewish foodways exhibition.

Abby fills out a separation sheet for this historic samovar.

Tuesday saw the second round of Collections Committee Meetings. At this meeting a committee made up of Museum Board Members, experts from other institutions and qualified community members listen to the recommendations from staff regarding all the donations proffered to the JMM in the past 3 months.

[An] interesting item from my week was definitely finding out the information about the "BEEhive" Handbag. Interviewing Mr.Stappler was intriguing because I found out new information from what was presumed about the bag. Although there is still more research to be done on it, I feel like I made a drastic discovery that changed the thought of Collections staff on that certain object. -Sean

Wednesday began on a somber note, with a special security meeting in the wake of the prior week’s incident at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. After the seminar, collections interns dove head first into OBJECT INVENTORY! Every three years we look at every single object in the museum collection and update its database record to make sure that everything is in its place. With over 6,000 3-dimensional objects alone, this can be a daunting tack! But our interns know no fear and by week’s end had completed just under 10% - in only 3 days. No mean feat that!

Wow...that's a lot of shelves. See Sean aaaaallll the way back there?

Because I'm vertically challenged I had a hard to reaching on the top shelf. Alison kindly offered a hand and we began doing inventory of an entire range. We recorded items like vintage kitchen appliances, plaques, statues, and a few ceremonial objects. - Kim

Kim doesn't let her "vertical challenges" get in the way of inventory!

Berkley uses sweet tunes to spur her along.

The most exciting part this week for me was Collections inventory. I was expecting to go through the database first and then go and check from there, but we actually went to the artifacts and objects and went from shelf to shelf. The intricate detail that the JMM continues to surprise me with is amazing. I know it is a necessary evil but it seems to be to another level of specificity. The database entry after inventory for half the day is monotonous but I like it. – Sean

Collections Inventory certainly wasn't the only thing going on at the museum this week. Interns talk about some of their other projects below:

Some additional things I did this week in the museum was working on my project with Jennifer going over the LSS and taking pictures of the work being done, and its current state. We walked throughout the Synagogue and found new objects that had been unearthed since construction had taken place. I am excited for what more is to come and look forward to everyone viewing the pictures. - Berkley

Jennifer teaches Alison the ins-and-outs of archiving.

By the end of the week I began to start on a very exciting project: constructing a Library policy. This policy will be a little different than most because the JMM does not loan but I'm excited about constructing this policy. - Kim

I have been working on a project to turn the Leo Burger Immigrant's Trunk into lesson plans and activities suitable for young children. It has been enjoyable thinking of games and materials that can be used for early childhood education. The other day I came up with the idea to make a board game, Golden Land (based on Candy Land). - Amanda

Sean spends some quality time with the computer. Hope that pencil tastes good!

I flew out to Boise, where my sister and her fiance live, on Tuesday to help out with their wedding. I was put to work as soon as I arrived, and have been weeding their vegetable garden, painting their deck, and mowing their lawn... with a push lawn mower. Needless to say, I've been spending a lot of time outside enjoying the beautiful, humidity-free Boise weather. I also had the chance to edit and upload the food photography I did while in Florida – check out the photos at: ( - Shelby

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Secret Lives of Interns: Week 2

With no rest for the weary the interns started right in on their second week at the JMM. After a whirlwind introduction, we got down to business.

This week was a week of firsts for me. First staff meeting (and I was late for it!); first time transferring phone calls; first time transcribing an interview; first collections committee meeting; and first time taking the Baltimore metro (which, I found, nearly doubles my traveling time). – Abby (exhibitions intern)

Development Intern Ilana is hard at work in
the boardroom with her supervisor Lee Hendleman!

This week at the Jewish Museum was great and really busy! I started working on different development initiatives and projects which will likely be carried throughout my internship. I am becoming involved with other departments and getting to know other people in the museum as well, since one of my projects is to interview the staff members who are working on various grants for either specific or non-specific projects. It's really nice to feel that I am getting things done and making a difference at the Museum. Being able to wallow in the Baltimore humidity is a great part of this experience as well! – Ilana

On Tuesday, archival intern Alison accompanied staff to Baltimore Hebrew University for the first round of an extensive project – labeling boxes! Sounds small, but it was an extremely important step in keeping a large collection (currently 300+ boxes!) organized and under control.

That’s a lot of boxes!

One thing I learned this week...well, I learned that not all "collections" are kept in the best condition (a.k.a. the BHU archives). They really were just kept in the basement. Since I got to actually see a little bit of the BHU archives, I'm excited to actually get to look in the boxes and see what kind of interesting stuff (hopefully interesting in a good way) is in there. – Alison

While Alison was toiling away in a basement in Park Heights, the rest of the interns were treated to the full staff monthly meetings. A lively discussion took place about “what the Museum does best,” giving the interns a chance to hear from the entire staff.

One of the biggest events of week two for the collections interns was the Staff Collections Committee meeting on Wednesday. At this meeting collections staff make decisions about all the new materials that have been offered as donations to the museum over the past 3 months. It’s always a time of questions and debate and all of our interns left with homework assignments - to research and report back on all the questions raised during the meeting.

Collections Manager (and professional Intern Wrangler)

Jobi Zink gives the interns what-for at the meeting.

It was a very informative meeting, and they allowed the interns to make suggestions and comments. A lot of time, effort, and research goes into these meetings. I learned that research is key in the selection process and am very excited to learn more at the next meeting. – Berkley

What was different from my expectations [of the meeting] would probably be that from a big collection, not everything was taken, to me it seemed like, sure, if there was one already in collection then it wasn’t necessary for accession but if it was something related to the items already being taken it should go with. That was just my opinion from a tidbit of the meeting. – Sean

The collections committee meeting was especially interesting because, along with the other interns, I got to see the thought process that goes behind accessioning material. The museum can't just accept anything and everything; the material has to be relevant to the museum's mission, and what is considered relevant is sometimes debatable. In particular, there was a City College yearbook from an Italian (non-Jewish) man who was married to a Jewish woman. On the one hand, there was bound to be Jewish students in the yearbook, but on the other, the book had belonged to a non-Jew. The pivotal question was: how important is the book's context? Does the fact of the book's owner matter more than its contents? It's not an easy question to answer, but it's one that has to be considered carefully in such a specialized museum. - Abby

Collections interns also got to start in on some of their main summer projects:

My favorite activity by far was putting new objects into other locations within the collections storage but also entering all the data into Past Perfect and getting that type of experience; another fun part was entering new objects to be accessioned, strenuous and time consuming with all the info that is necessary to fill it out but it offers me time to be creative. I'm a little slow with it all right now but more time with it and I'm going to be rockin' it! - Sean

Also, despite the fact this may sound weird...I actually enjoyed scanning photographs and updating the records for the LSS excavation. I liked looking at the photos and I also felt like I was doing something to help the museum and outside researchers. - Alison

This week at the Jewish Museum of Maryland I started my first project, cataloging a photo collection. It was a great learning experience and I was really interested in the whole process. – Berkley

And on a slightly different note, Shelby, one of our exhibition interns who is working long-distance for the month reports on life outside the museum!
Maggie and the cats: Play nice!

I've been in Florida for the past week, unpacking all the belongings I've acquired over the four years I've been in school in Baltimore and visiting relatives. We have a new addition to the family, a mutt named Maggie we adopted from a local rescue group. It's nice having a dog in the house again, and she's been a great excuse to take leisurely strolls along the beach in the evenings. While attempting to train her not to chase our cats and jump up on the furniture, I've also been trying my hand at cooking. I prepared a sweet couscous salad with almonds and dates (and discovered that I am allergic to dates in the process) and a chopped vegetable Israeli salad. – Shelby