Friday, July 31, 2009

Spotlight on: Archives!

Archive inventory isn’t always the most stimulating activity. Very important of course, but let’s face it – sitting at the computer typing in today’s date and my name over and over and over and over and…. But on the plus side I do get to see everything we have in our collection. I’ve been working on the manuscript collections 75 collections (many are only .25 or .5 linear feet of material, i.e. little boxes). I’m in museums, I work in collections, I’m the archivist so I get pretty excited about all things old, but I have found a couple things that anyone could get excited about.

James Cox and a young Franklin Delano Roosevelt, c. 1920

We’ve got a letter from FDR from before he was president – but then who doesn’t have some president’s signature lying around in their collections. Still he’s one of the big ones, one of the presidents most people remember after they finish grade school.

But we’ve also got a letter written by Roger B. Taney. Here is where my history-geekiness truly comes out. I got very excited about this, but many of you are probably asking – WHO? Because you don’t remember all those names and dates from high school history. But this guy is a big deal in 19th century American history. He was a US Attorney General, a Secretary of the Treasury – both pretty important.

He’s even had ships named after him (there’s one in the Baltimore Harbor right now – the Coast Guard Cutter Taney, which is the last ship still floating that also happened to be at Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 – it’s maintained by the Baltimore Maritime Museum). But if anyone knows him, they know him as the Chief Justice of the United States who delivered the opinion in the Dred Scott case. The decision in this case served to perpetuate the status of slaves as property and African Americans as non-citizens in the United States. Our letter is not about that case – Taney is agreeing to consult with a Mr. Nelson on the “question of jurisdiction upon appeals from the Court of Claims.” Fascinating.

And the next great find….well, you’ll just have to stay tuned.

The Secret Lives of Interns: Week 7

As always, week 6 was a busy one! For collections interns, there was a sigh of relief as we finally moved the (now significantly weeded) Baltimore Hebrew University Archives into the JMM. More than 160 boxes made there way into our archival storage on Tuesday (Sean was very excited about driving the truck). Watch out for a special BHU blog post in the near future, recounting the whole endeavor!

Wednesday gave the interns a break from the JMM, sending them out on the second GBHA sponsored field trip to the West Side of Baltimore – visiting the Sports Legends Museum, The B&O Railroad Museum and Mount Clare House.

The highlight of the Intern Field Trip for me was the Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards, which surprised the heck out of me because I'm not really a huge sports fan! It was neat to see what the museum staff did with the space they had and how they operated behind the scenes. Greg and Shawn were great tour guides and focused on telling us the good as well as the bad of museum management - including which exhibits are a construction or operation "nightmare" and what to keep in mind if ever designing a museum (remember room for slop sinks and ample storage!). We got to hold one of Babe Ruth's bats and heard the story behind the Japanese headdress with the Emperor's personal markings that is part of the museum's collection. – Heather

This week we took our second intern field trip! Whoo! It was very insightful and taught me a lot more about Baltimore's history. Seeing as I'm not from around here, it was great to learn some more background about where I am living. We attended the Sports Legends Museum first and I really liked their facilities. They have a great gallery as soon as you come in set up like a train and you can sit and the videos play scenic woods and such. They do all sports history from Babe Ruth to Michael Phelps. They are also very smart with attaining cases for their galleries from other museums and recycling them for their own purposes. They love interaction on their tours which was great to hear; I feel as a museum professional that is to be first and foremost. They had fiber optic lighting which was different to see, it had its good and bad qualities. The Peabody does their music which was an interesting note, because their ambiance was terrific. They also have a very secure facility with electronic locks and lock-locks on others. We got to hold a 1923 Babe Ruth bat! Which was completely amazing! I touched, with gloves, the best ball player's bat! Being a Yankee fan, it truly meant a lot. We also learned about some funky things they had in their storage like ashes as well as a samurai helmet. It was a great environment and institution.

Babe Ruth’s Bat was a REAL favorite!

The B&0 was where we went next and it was just big! Everything was huge and interesting. They have 210 historic structures, as dubbed by the State. They have high expenses and very intricate preservation and conservation methods. Lastly there was Mount Clare. Their ambiance was a CD player and a computer speaker "hidden" in the corner. They had a good docent but he told us everything that the video we had just seen had told us. Overall the experience was eye-opening and interesting. I had a good time. – Sean

My recent activities include: leading youngsters from the McKim Center through "Voices Of Lombard Street" on Monday, researching and developing ideas for exhibits in the Lloyd Street Synagogue, learning lots at the Intern Field Trip on Wednesday, and meeting with the LSS team about the LSS exhibit media - such great artistry - it's going to be awesome, you'll just have to wait and see! – Heather

Having grown up with a Jewish family, gone to Jewish day school for nine years, had a bat mitzvah, etc., I thought I had a pretty good handle on points of observance and ritual. However, working on the Chosen Food exhibit has exposed me to some nitty-gritty details of Jewish observance that I had no idea existed! Some are interesting to consider, but a few seem simply absurd. The most recent example doesn't actually have to do with food, but with keeping the Sabbath. During the Sabbath, we are commanded to refrain from doing any kind of work that is related to the 39 categories of labor (which were used to build the temple). This includes lifting certain weights, cooking, and tearing. With the passing of time, the laws have been interpreted so that they relate to modern life, with the result that strictly-observant Jews do not tear toilet paper on Shabbat! Ultimately, every Jew has to choose for her/himself which practices are most meaningful, but, in the sage words of Karen Falk, "everyone draws the line somewhere!" And, clearly, this is where I draw mine. When I'm not pondering Talmudic interpretations of modern life, I am poring over cookbooks and food-related books/articles, making me crave knishes and stuffed cabbage. – Abby

This week, I spent most of my time researching programs of other Jewish museums across the country. I found it interesting that museums of our size in many different states had similarly structured websites and program initiatives: book talks, speakers, and children’s art projects. Larger museums (with larger budgets) have numerous programs 5-6 times a week over a variety of different themes. Which makes me 1) angry that we don't have more money and 2) excited about the potential we could reach if and when we do acquire more money. Ka ching! - Rebecca

I was gone for the first half of the week, visiting friends in New York City and photographing for the Jewish foodways grant application. I found several long lists of most of the kosher restaurants in the city and spent several days wandering, photographing, and collecting take-out menus. While there, I also visited the new gourmet kosher grocery store pomegranate. I’d never photographed in a grocery store, and certainly got some strange looks from the customers and employees (though i did get permission to do so), but it was a good experience. Sampling their rugelach was also pretty enjoyable. Since I’ve been back at the JMM, I’ve been doing miscellaneous research to help Karen and Rachel fill in some of the sections on the foodways grant. – Shelby

*Sports Legend and B&O photos by Heather and Kim!
*New York Food photos by Shelby!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Once Upon a Time Photos: 7.17.09

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: 7/17/09

PastPerfect Accession #: 1990.209.104

Status: Unidentified.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Once Upon a Time Photos: 7.10.09

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: 7/10/09

PastPerfect Accession #: 1990.052.012

Status: Unidentified.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Once Upon a Time Photos: 7.3.09

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: 7/03/09

PastPerfect Accession #: 1990.052.009

Status: Unidentified.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Driving Tour of Jewish Baltimore

The tour begins on Baltimore’s East Side and retraces the migration route of the early Jewish immigrants who initially settled (in the mid 19th century) in East Baltimore. The route moves north and westward through the city and into the suburbs. Along the way, participants see and experience the development of Jewish life in Baltimore and the metropolitan region. The tour includes sacred, educational, recreational, and social sites of Jewish interest. Please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive tour of all Jewish neighborhoods. Instead it is designed to follow a specific path of migration and to bring certain neighborhoods back to life.

The Jewish Museum of Maryland gratefully acknowledges Gilbert Sandler and Efrem Potts for their guidance in creating this bus script. In addition, a special thank you is owed to Willa Banks for providing additional research.

This driving tour uses Google Maps. Please click on the map or link below to learn about all of the different stops along the way. Next week, we will post a walking tour of East Baltimore.

View Jewish Baltimore Tour in a larger map

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Team Liechtenstein: Fabulous or FABULOUS?

Team Liechtenstein has been hard at work, training to be the best of the best!

We've been practicing at Patterson Park Pool - many thanks to the wonderful staff and patient park goers! I think our antics have at least provided some good entertainment for all!

A little more land work, just to brush up on the moves!

Jobi and Shannon give us a pep talk and plenty of pointers!

Ready to make a triumphant splash!

Getting into place.

Look at those stars!

Circle up Liechtenstein!


Check us out in the Baltimore Sun!

Don’t forget to come see us be FABULOUS this weekend or next!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Collections Conundrums

On Wednesday, Collections and Exhibitions staff members sat down to participate in a webinar presented by the American Associations of Museums. The webinar was a “practical review of collection issues.” The panelists included:

Jeanne Benas, Registrar, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Rebecca A. Buck, Deputy Director for Collection Services, Newark Museum
Jean Gilmore, Registrar, Brandywine River Museum

and the panel was moderated by:

Greg Stevens, Assistant Director for Professional Development, American Association of Museums
Jonathan Finkelstein, Founder and Executive Producer, LearningTimes

Throughout the webinar there was lively debate, well informed commentary and a general sense of fun. Questions and comments from webinar participants came in through on-line chat, text messages and even through Twitter! We took plenty of notes (and had plenty of debate just between the four of us!) and despite the small confines (all four of us crowded into Karen’s none-too-spacious office) and the difficulty of squeezing such a broad topic into a short time, had a good time.

I attended the session by the same name at AAM this year. Rebecca, Jeanne, and Jean really know collections management! In both settings they were pretty clear and firm about writing a Collections Management Policy that is tailored to your museum's needs. For the most part their responses to questions were straight forward, but they didn't take into consideration the various shades of gray that make each issue an actual conundrum. The live setting did allow for a more thorough answer, as the inquirer could ask follow up questions or provide more background.

I think the difficult part in either a live or on-line setting is establishing which audience the session is designed for: natural history, historic house, art museums, etc., interns, new professionals, mid-level, or senior staff. It is good, though, to reconfirm what you know and see if there are new developments in the field. – Jobi (Senior Collections Manager and Registrar)

Check out that neat handwriting!

You can tell Jobi’s a registrar – and one of the best!

The webinar was about things that I don’t deal with in the course of my normal day—these things fall more in Jobi’s bailiwick. So it was interesting and broadening to hear a discussion of some collections conundrums. It was also gratifying to find that our instincts about the right way to handle problems are on target. And that we are not alone in the field in having these problems. – Karen (Curator)

A one hour webinar is hardly enough time to thoroughly discuss Collections Conundrums. Once conundrum, maybe, While the presenters did well in trying to introduce a variety of issues that collections management professionals encounter, variety often means lack of depth. The most interesting part of the webinar to me was a discussion about historic sites and getting rid of items within an historic home when it transfers to a museum - I completely disagreed with the presenters! Maybe they need to hold a webinar on that. - Jenn (Activing Archivist and Curatorial Assistant)

You can tell I am NOT a registrar – to be fair, I AM a lefty so I’m working with a handicap!

I was surprised the webinar format worked as well as it did! There was a clear commitment to using current technologies (I love that they jumped on the Twitter bandwagon!) and the moderators did a great job keeping up with questions from us participants. I would have appreciated some accompanying materials (such as suggestions for how to look up state laws regarding abandoned property/museum property/etc.) but was overall not disappointed in the experience!- Rachel (Photo Archivist)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Enter…the Goat. Roy the Goat to be exact.

Team Liechtenstein’s training is in full swing! We hit the pool running…well, swimming, the first week of June. A kindly Fluid Movement board member offered us practice space in his pool (as the city pools weren’t quite open yet) so that Team Liechtenstein could get a jump on all the other Flurry Folk. We intend to be the best! (That’s my inner Olympic Skier talking – going for gold baby!)

Shining Shannon puts us through our paces.

Keep those heads and arms above the water!

Working on our lines. Don’t worry;

we’ll be straight as an arrow by show time!

More drills – great star Jessica!

And introducing…ROY THE GOAT!

He’s a little underdressed but Jobi’s no less happy to see him!

Don’t forget to pick up your tickets and come meet Roy (and the rest of Team Liechtenstein)!

Once Upon a Time Photos: 6.26.09

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: 6/26/09

PastPerfect Accession #: 1989.080.064

Status:Partially Identified!

Left to right: #4 Morris Price, #6 Sidney “Chick” Sher, #9 Sylvan Farber, #12 Alan Hecht, #13 Louis Kaplan #14 Abe Krulewitch or Uri Goldsmith

Special thanks to Paula Williams, Sheila Goldsmith, and Mark Rosenfield

Monday, July 13, 2009

Brews and Schmooze with JT Waldman

The Jewish Museum of Maryland invites you to Brews and Schmooze with JT Waldman.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009 / 6-8pm

$5 admission includes artist's talk by JT Waldman, whose work appears in the JMM exhibition, Drawing on Tradition: The Book of Esther; a falafel sandwich (courtesy of Kosher Bite); and a free beer!

Additional beers and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream for sale!

RSVP to Ilene Dackman-Alon at 410.732.6400, x214 or

Thank you to our sponsors: Kosher Bite and Cold Stone Creamery, Canton.

Jewish Museum of Maryland
at the Herbert Bearman Campus
15 Lloyd Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Once Upon a Time Photos: 6.19.09

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: 6/19/09

PastPerfect Accession #: 1988.142.091

Status:Partially Identified! Seven young men. Man on right is holding a shofar, n.d.

From the left #2 Chaim Gornish, #4 Elchanan Oberstein, #6 Meir Schecter.

Special thanks to Meir Schecter.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Secret Lives of Interns: Week 5

Week Five brought the introduction of Heather, our last (but certainly not least!) summer intern. Heather is working in the education department and helping out with exhibitions as well!

I assisted with inventory of the gift shop on Monday, led 2 groups of first and second graders through the Voices of Lombard St tour with Simone for SuperKids camp on Tuesday, and thoroughly enjoyed the Intern Field Trip on Wednesday. I also started reviewing info on the LSS to assist with planning interactives for the new exhibit and jotting down several ideas to bounce off of Jenn, Anita and Deb W. A great first week here - makes me excited for the next 9! – Heather

Whew! That's a LOT of interns!

When noon rolled around Jobi Zink, official intern wrangler (and Senior Collections Manager) escorted the interns to Little Italy for lunch at one of the JMM’s favorite restaurants: Amicci’s!

Out to lunch!

After lunch all the interns headed up to the nearby Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. Interns started out in the gift shop before being escorted into the conservation lab.

Alison and Sean are especially excited by the fume tube.

Then they got a sneak peek into the Lewis’ storage rooms, checking out the automatic compact shelving (moves with just one touch of a button!), artwork cages and getting a chance to see a few objects up close and personal.

Checking out the art storage.

This French military uniform holds everyone's attention.

After the back scenes tour the interns took a turn through the Lewis’ current exhibition East Side Stories and watched a video created by the History Channel, featured in the lobby of the museum.

Interns in the Lewis's East Side Stories exhibition

The field trip concluded at the Star Spangled Banner Flag House, right next door to the Lewis. The interns were introduced to the variety of American flags on display, cataloging the 28 changes the flag has gone through. They learned all about the history of the Flag House, the Star Spangled Banner and our National Anthem. Apparently the Children’s Activity Room was a big hit!

The interns (and Jobi!) try on a few 19th century looks.

The intern field trip this week made me realize how much better the JMM is than other institutions but also opened my eyes to what could be expanded here. When we went to the Flag house museum they very impersonal, they just plopped us down in front of a video and allowed us to wander through the museum after that. I'd much preferred a guide, even in a place as small as that, just in case I'd have questions. The building also was not very secure, granted there were signs saying "do not enter" but it was unlocked and easily accessible to whomever wanted to go in. On the brighter side, in comparison, the JMM has a solid secure building and the volunteers and staff are very personable, so it made me appreciate where I work a lot more. But, I also noticed what changes could be made here at the JMM after seeing the Lewis Museum facility. They had a conservation lab, all to itself, and that was really exciting to see, granted with the right funding that'd be a possibility but it's something we don’t have here. Also noticed how secure their building was with monitors in each room on the ceilings as well as card access to doors in collections storage and back rooms. Every artifact had enough space to breathe and some. It was very detailed. The JMM is very precise as well, we just don’t have the space and some artifacts don’t get much wiggle room, which is probably another case of money. But over all it was a good learning experience and I enjoyed the content of the trip. - Sean

From a New York perspective, it felt great to be able to walk to these museums in one day. As we all know, Baltimore is not exactly walking friendly. The museums were small; however they had just enough to grasp their essence. These museums are all really there to recognize and appreciate what past and present citizens of Maryland have contributed to their communities. Kudos to all museum staff, and anyone who has contributed to a museum in Maryland. They have worked hard to recognize individuals who would have been forgotten and erased from history. – Giselle

It's a right gaggle of interns!

Seeing all the good stuff in the basement of the JMM including the permanent wave machine (that must be what you guys use on your "problem interns"), lunch at Amicci's, information overload at the Lewis, and revisiting my inner child while coloring at the Flag House Museum were among the highlights [of my first week]. - Heather

But it’s not all fun, games and field trips!

Last week, I spent a lot of time making outreach calls to local Jewish organizations. Realizing that the information provided was outdated and incomplete, I began compiling a recent comprehensive list of Jewish organizations and their important contacts including addresses, phone numbers and e-mails. I also finalized logo and food information regarding the companies which are to provide for the "Brews and Schmooze" event. – Rebecca

Last week was again filled with a hodgepodge of activities and tasks. I am STILL working on transcribing Seymour Attman's oral history. It's taking a long time partly because I only work on it in between other tasks, and partly because transcribing is just a lot harder than I thought it would be! Though now I have Shelby, the other curatorial intern, to commiserate with, so that's nice. When we weren't wearing out the stop and rewind buttons on the cassette players, Shelby and I researched the history of food packaging so we could find props for a section of the Chosen Food exhibit. I can now tell someone the history of the tin can! Unfortunately, we also found that there just isn't a whole lot of difference between food packaging in, say, the 1830's in the U.S. and in 1870's in Russia, so I'm not sure just how useful our research will be in the long run. At the very least, I've been beefing up my store of random trivia! – Abby

Crazily enough, for many of our interns this week marked the halfway point! A few of them took the time to reflect on the weeks passed:

My past couple of weeks at the JMM have been extremely interesting and eye opening. The staff has been wonderful in training us in the proper techniques and usage of different materials. Every week is new and exciting. This particular week we have been working over at the BHU sifting through old archives and really getting a taste for what museum collections is about. I have learned a great deal about museum management and the level of time and effort it takes to store, and inventory a collection. There is so much work that goes into one exhibit, and I have gained a new admiration and respect for the time, energy, artistry, and thought it takes when one views an exhibit. History is such an important part of who everyone is, it helps individuals learn, grow, and evolve into better human beings, which is why Museums are such a necessary part of society. Every time I find a new or interesting article, picture, or object while doing inventory it always makes me think. The JMM has opened my eyes to so many things. I hold a lot of admiration for each individual staff member and thank them for keeping things fun and lively. They have each taught me something different, and I know I will be able to take something great away from the JMM. - Berkley

It seems crazy to be half way finished with the internship. It's funny how quickly you become comfortable in a new environment - I feel like it’s been longer than a few weeks. In these first five weeks, I feel like I've learned a lot about the JMM and about the variety of tasks that go on during the day. So far, I've gotten the chance to do inventory, begin processing a collection and work on its finding aid, learn the ins and outs of the wonderful program that is PastPerfect and take some very fun field trips - my favorite probably being to the Lewis and seeing their awesome conservation lab and collections storage. - Alison