Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Volunteerings at the JMM!

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Sun.

A blog post by Ilene Cohen, volunteer coordinator.

As the volunteer coordinator at the Jewish Museum of Maryland I am constantly recruiting. The classic stereotype of a volunteer is someone who has lots of time to spare and is looking for something to do. While this describes good portion of our volunteers, we take pride in providing an environment in which people of all ages and stations in life can make friends, meet others who share their interests, learn new skills, and share their skills with others.

Our current volunteer opportunities include:

Front Desk Reception
The front desk reception volunteers provide an invaluable service to the Museum by maintaining a warm and welcome atmosphere for Museum guests. They serve as the Museum’s customer service representatives while orienting visitors to the Museum complex. They provide information about all services that the Museum offers. Some tasks include processing admission fees for groups and individuals, answering the telephone, and maintaining an accurate daily count of visitors.

Museum Docents
Museum docents possess an interest in history and enjoy sharing their knowledge with others. They perform an essential duty by leading tours and by interpreting the history of the Museum’s two historic synagogues and exhibitions for adults, families, and school groups of all ages. A series of training sessions is offered to those interested in joining our docent corps.

Museum Gift Shop

Gift shop volunteers assist guests with purchases, process cash and credit card payments, arrange merchandise on shelves and in windows, and assist the shop manager with ordering merchandise and conducting store inventory.

Special Events
Throughout the year, the Museum holds many programs and special events including exhibition openings, family holiday programs, lectures, film series, and theatrical and musical performances. Special event volunteers provide much needed assistance with these events by greeting visitors, processing admission fees, maintaining an accurate count of visitors, helping with refreshments, selling memberships, and facilitating art projects.

Volunteering in the Library and Archives offers a variety of learning experiences. The majority of the work takes place in a library setting, but a few projects may be completed at home. Positions range from office-type work, to collections processing, to digital imaging. Typing and computer skills are preferred, but not always required. A number of the projects may be conducive to working with a partner. This volunteer opportunity provides a chance to learn more about Maryland’s Jewish history. All new volunteers will be given an orientation to the care and handling of archival objects.

Volunteers in the collections department work on a variety of projects. These include creating artifact inventories for special projects, organizing collection records, sorting incoming artifacts, helping to store and pack artifacts, and preparing objects in the collection for exhibition. Temporary assignments are available. Experience in the handling of fragile items is desired.

Photo Collections
Working with the museum photographic collections can include numbering and re-housing photographs as well as typing photo descriptions and scanning photographs. Volunteers will be trained on the proper handling of photographs as well as the correct procedures for updating catalogue records and digitizing images for preservation. Projects tend to be ongoing and can support a variety of time commitments – a few hours every week to sporadic all-day visits, working with the photograph collection is a very flexible volunteer position. Willingness to use a computer and learn basic digital imaging skills is a must.

Our volunteers are given the opportunity to help the community, increase their self-esteem, make new friends, try out a job, polish their resumes, develop new skills and enjoy something they love. Please contact us ( if you would like to join in!

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