Greenbelt Museum is a Pokestop!

Di13754412_10154205567861011_6114363995407845507_nd you know the Greenbelt Museum is a Pokestop?!  We are!  Education and Volunteer Coordinator, Sheila Maffay-Tuthill, discovered this earlier this week while playing the game with her son. If you’re playing Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game played on smart phones and released just this month, you know what that is. If you need some background, Wikipedia’s definition is concise. It’s a “game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world. It makes use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices.” Pokestops are places in the game that allow you to collect needed items such as eggs, potions and more Poke Balls which will allow you to then capture more Pokemon!

On the plus side, players are out and about exploring new places, looking for Pokestops including museums, parks, and cultural sites, but the game has caused controversy, as well, because some museums and cultural sites have requested people from refrain from playing there believing it to be disrespectful. Also, unfortunately, some criminals are capitalizing on its possibilities. For us here at the Greenbelt Museum, however, we are embracing the potential new visitors.

Now what, you may ask, does an augmented reality game in 2016 have to do with a museum that interprets life the 1930s and 1940s?  Animated creatures!  Some of  Americans’ most beloved characters made their debut in the early 20th century. Felix the Cat was created in 1918, Mickey Mouse in 1928, Porky Pig in 1935, Woody Woodpecker in 1940, and Mighty Mouse in 1942 (and many more). According to our oral histories and conversations we’ve had with people who grew up in Greenbelt, kids here spent much of each day outside exploring the woods, playing at the lake, and riding bikes along the many pathways. If a virtual game can get kids (and adults!) out and about exploring the world around them, we think that’s a good thing. Museums, of course, should be places of learning, but they can (and should!) also be places for fun and exploration, whatever the catalyst is that gets people to them.

Greenbelt Museum Awarded $50,000 Grant

12391008_10153694611001011_3214736150212849478_nEveryone here at the Greenbelt Museum is thrilled to hear that we’ve been awarded a $50,000 matching grant from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA). This grant, which has been awarded to the nonprofit 501(c)(3) Friends of the Greenbelt Museum (FOGM), along with the City of Greenbelt’s purchase of 10A Crescent, will allow us to establish a state of the art visitor and education center.
This will not only physically make our site and community a better place to visit by offering expanded hours, more space than we currently have, and a more streamlined operation in terms of museum functions, it will also have a psychological effect. Greenbelt’s historical narratives include the Great Depression, town planning, modernism, World War II, cooperatives, segregation, suburban development, citizen activism, and sustainability, and much more. Its stories are not just local, but also regional and even national, and deserve a dedicated space in which those stories can be explored. A Visitor and Education Center, located right beside the Museum’s most important teaching tool, our historic house, will allow for easier and more in-depth exploration of these broader narratives. 
FOGM will be embarking on a capital campaign to raise the required matching funds for the MHAA grant. Stay tuned for more information about thos efforts. Read more about our local Maryland Heritage Area, Maryland Milestones, and check out the full MHAA Grant Awards Press Release with information about the other grants awarded this year. There are many fascinating projects across the state. The Greenbelt Museum is honored to be in such great company!

Museum Expansion To 10A Crescent Road is Finalized

IMG_1955

Daffodils bloom on the grounds of 10A Crescent, future site of the Museum’s Visitor and Education Center.

In March 2016, the City of Greenbelt finalized its plans to acquire 10A Crescent Rd, the home next door to the Museum’s historic house at 10B Crescent and took possession of the house. The months-long process included a museum presentation at a City Council meeting in December 2015, subsequent hearings, and Greenbelt Homes Incorporated Board meetings. 10A Crescent Road will provide space for the Museum to expand and will feature space for additional programming and museum education. It will also house a Greenbelt visitor center, a research and reading room, collections storage, and office. The Museum is grateful to everyone who has expressed support for the project, who spoke at the City Council meetings, who contacted GHI with their thoughts, and to the Dwyer family, residents of 10A for nearly 60 years, for their patience with this process.

On May 15, 2016, in conjunction with a Hands On History Day, from 1pm to 3pm, the Museum is offering a sneak peek of 10A.  Everyone is invited to stop by, have a look around, and share thoughts on which museum functions they feel are the most important. Now that the City of Greenbelt (in GHI terms) has purchased the perpetual right to use the space, the Friends of the Greenbelt Museum Board of Directors have begun the process of transforming the space into a Visitor and Education Center, but we need input from the community we serve!

City Holds Hearing on Opportunity to Expand Museum

IMG_6921At the November 23 meeting of City Council, the opportunity to purchase 10A Crescent, the unit next-door to the    Museum house, was discussed. As was pointed out in the agenda for the meeting, acquisition of the house would allow the museum to significantly expand its      programs, activities, and open hours.

The unit at 10B was purchased by the city on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Greenbelt, in 1987. 10A, which has been occupied by the Dwyer family for many years, is ready to come on the market, providing an opportunity for the city to invest in the additional property. The new space would provide a larger area to accommodate tours, an archive room, on-site office space for Museum staff, and much more.

A public hearing on this matter has been scheduled for the Dec. 14, 2015, 8pm City Council meeting.  The Board of the Friends of the Greenbelt Museum invites you to read and familiarize yourself with the following bullet points, and to attend the meeting to show your support for the potential museum expansion.  Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you, greenbeltmuseum@gmail.com.

Benefits of Acquiring 10A

  • The acquisition would consolidate museum functions in one location.
  • The new location could serve as a visitor/welcome center for the city.
  • The acquisition would allow for a broader interpretation of life in Greenbelt.
  • The unit offers improved accessibility, including an essential first floor restroom facility.
  • The unit has been occupied for 59 years, this may be a rare opportunity. 
  • The new unit could be used as a pilot unit to test out environmental and preservation      strategies.
  • The Friends of the Greenbelt  Museum support the acquisition

Benjamin Abramowitz: Greenbelt Museum Honors Prominent Local Artist

Parkway Apartments,  1947, by Benjamin Abramowitz. This is one of two paintings to be unveiled at the April 21, lecture.  The paintings were generously purchased and gifted to the Museum by Pamela Gregory and Richard Marcus. The other is Girls, oil on linen, 1947.

Parkway Apartments, 1947, by Benjamin Abramowitz. This is one of two paintings to be unveiled at the April 21, lecture. The paintings were generously purchased and gifted to the Museum by Pamela Gregory and Richard Marcus. The other is Girls, oil on linen, 1947.

In the month of April, the Greenbelt Museum will remember, honor, and celebrate artist Benjamin Abramowitz (1917–2011), who lived and worked in Greenbelt for 60 years. Susan Abramowitz Rosenbaum, his daughter and a frequent subject in his paintings and other works of art will present the April 2015 FOGM lecture on her father’s life and legacy on Tuesday, April 21, 2015, at 7:30 pm at the Greenbelt City Community Center. The lecture will coincide with the unveiling of two Abramowitz paintings donated to the Greenbelt Museum by Pamela Gregory and Richard Marcus, long-time friends of the Museum. “The Greenbelt Museum is truly honored to receive the gift of these two important Benjamin Abramowitz paintings from Pamela Gregory and Richard Marcus,” says Megan Searing Young, Director of the Greenbelt Museum. Rosenbaum herself is the subject of one of the paintings, a study of neighborhood children playing in a sandbox, absorbed in their imaginary world.

In 1917, Abramowitz was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Russian immigrants. As a young child he was enraptured by art, and in 1936, he joined the Work Projects Administration (WPA). He was 19 years old. Today, many of those works are in the collections of major museums. The Metropolitan Museum in New York holds eleven lithographs from the young artist. By the time he was in his early 30s, Abramowitz had become a celebrated star in the growing Washington, D.C.-Baltimore regional art scene. Major regional collections such as the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Phillips Collection began to purchase his work. The Corcoran Gallery of Art selected his work for its biennial exhibitions and featured two major solo exhibitions. The Ford Foundation sent him throughout the country as an artist-in-residence to lecture and conduct seminars and critiques.

His output as an artist was prodigious. He created more than 7,000 works including 175 sculptures, 470 paintings, and thousands of watercolors, ink drawings, sketches, and prints. In the last decades of her father’s life, Rosenbaum catalogued these works and his papers, aided by her father’s memory and his detailed notes.

Abramowitz created many pieces that depicted social issues, such as poverty, racism, and the costs of war to soldiers and their families. These paintings and works on paper bristle with the passion, outrage at injustice, and social consciousness of Käthe Kollwitz or Ben Shahn. Abramowitz also depicted lighter, more intimate subjects such as the people, green spaces, and comfortable houses of his adopted hometown—with the bold, rich color palette and monumentality of Cezanne’s depictions of Aix-en-Provence. In his later life, partly because of his deteriorating vision, Abramowitz explored abstraction and color, a line of inquiry that also preoccupied painters such as Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and other regional artists of the Washington Color School.

It is perhaps fitting that Abramowitz chose to live most of his life in the planned New Deal community of Greenbelt, where he raised a family and worked out of a two-story studio at the back of his home. The Greenbelt Veteran’s Cooperative—later known as Greenbelt Homes, Incorporated was not spared his sharp judgment and keen intelligence, but he was widely regarded in the community as a beloved neighbor, friend, parent, and teacher. The Greenbelt Library first presented a solo exhibition of his paintings and lithographs in 1944, and he also organized the First Annual Labor Day Festival Art Fair, a tradition that still continues.

Abramowitz’s paintings will enhance the collection and programming of the Greenbelt Museum, delighting visitors from Greenbelt’s early days and showing newcomers what life was like in one of the Green Towns. “The paintings embody so much of what is important about Greenbelt, its origins as a New Deal community, which provided relief work to hundreds, just as the WPA did; its emphasis on community, and its careful integration of architecture with green space, which, among many other benefits, provided children with ample, safe places to play,” adds Searing Young. “All of these elements are beautifully and movingly captured in these two Abramowitz paintings and we are immensely grateful to be able to share them with the community and beyond.”

The lecture takes place at the Greenbelt City Community Center on 15 Crescent Road in Greenbelt, Maryland. This event is free, open to the public, and organized by the Friends of the Greenbelt Museum.

This article was written by FOGM Board member, Anna Socrates, with assistance from Susan Abramowitz Rosenbaum

Valentine’s Day is Here!

Valentine's Day at houseStop by the Museum’s historic house at 10B Crescent and take in the romance of a bygone era.  Did you know that when Greenbelt was first established in 1937, the average age of the early residents was 28?  And the birth rate in Greenbelt was triple the national average, very unusual for the Depression era. Love was in the air, apparently!  Even the town’s newspaper, The Cooperator, joked about it. Come by the house and see the scene set for a romantic dinner. The house is open Sundays from 1-5pm. There is a small admission fee.  IMG_7091

January Lecture Explores Greenbelt’s Cultural Landscape

Photo by Ennis Barbery

Photo by Ennis Barbery

January 20, 2015, 7:30pm

15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770

We are very pleased to be welcoming Ennis Barbery, University of Maryland M.A.A. graduate, back to Greenbelt to share her research into Greenbelt’s ever-changing cultural landscape. Beginning in June 2013, Ms. Barbery collaborated with the Museum to conduct 14 oral history interviews with both new and old residents to discover and document how current Greenbelters interact with their city’s landscape: how residents move through the city, how they actively shape the landscape, and how Greenbelt’s landscape features influence residents’ actions. See and hear snippets of two of the oral histories she collected here. The Greenbelt Museum is fortunate to have a strong collection of oral histories which began to be gathered on the occasion of the city’s 50th anniversary in 1987. Ms. Barbery’s work builds on that collection and reveals residents’ insights into what Greenbelt is like today.  Residents spoke not just of Greenbelt’s strengths but also some of its challenges. Not long after completing her practicum with the Greenbelt Museum, Ms. Barbery became the Executive Director of the Museum of Chincoteague Island in Chincoteague, Virginia. We wish her well in her position!

Lectures are free, open to the public and take place in Room 201 of the Greenbelt Community Center, 15 Crescent Road, Greenbelt, MD 20770. This is the final lecture in our series that has been offered in conjunction with the exhibition, Greenbelt: The First 75 Years, 1937-1952. The exhibition is scheduled to close in mid-February. Exhibit and lecture are sponsored by the Friends of the Greenbelt Museum, the City of Greenbelt, The Greenbelt Community Foundation, and Maryland Milestones/ATHA Inc. In the event of inclement weather, the lecture may be postponed, please call the city’s weather hotline for information: 301-474-0646.

Museum House Open by Appointment Only January 2015

The Greenbelt Museum’s historic house, located at 10B Crescent, will be open by appointment only for the month of January 2015.  We will resume normal Sunday hours, which are 1-5pm beginning on February 2015.  Typically, we are open by appointment only during the month of
January because after tracking visitation for several years, we learned that it is the month when we receive the least number of visitors.  The closure also allows us to take down the holiday displays in the house, clean collection items on display, and otherwise do maintenance on the house and visitor center/shop.

We look forward to welcoming you back on February 1, 2015!  Stay warm and safe this winter!

Celebrate the Holidays with the Greenbelt Museum!

Deco the Halls flyer 2014We have some really fun holiday activities planned! We hope you’ll join us!

First, visit the Museum house at 10B Crescent Friday, December 5, from 7-9pm immediately after the city’s tree lighting, to see Deco the Halls, a mini exhibition of art deco & vintage holiday decorations.  Take a quick (free!) tour of this original, fully furnished Greenbelt home, which sparkles and glows at night and peruse the gift shop which will be freshly stocked with new holiday merchandise.  We will be open from 7pm-9pm, last tours at 8:30pm. For more information, call 301-507-6582 or visit greenbeltmuseum.org.

Saturday, December 6 from 10am-5pm and Sunday, December 7 from 10am-4pm come see us at the 2014 Festival of Lights, a juried craft and art fair Festival of lights shopper 2009that fills the Greenbelt Community Center with gifts for everyone!  Even though we aren’t crafters, the Museum sets up tables selling items from our gift shop which include books, cards, vintage-style toys, bags, Cats Meow buildings, postcards, and more!  All proceeds go to support the non-profit Friends of the Greenbelt Museum, so shop local!

 

Remembering Izzy Reception and Award Ceremony

Remembering IzzCartoon Contest Reception and Award Ceremony

skateboardingPlease join us Sunday, October 19, 2014 from 3-5pm for an event we are co-hosting with the Greenbelt News Review – the Remembering Izzy Cartoon Contest Reception and Award Ceremony.

Izzy Parker, the renowned editorial cartoonist and long-time Greenbeltresident, died in 2004 and we are honoring his legacy on the tenth anniversary of his passing with a joint project with the Greenbelt News Review. For more information about the contest, visit the News Review  website. Winners of the contest will be announced at the event on October 19 and all of the entries will be on display. Also on display will be panels from an exhibition that the Greenbelt Museum created in 2003, entitled Izzy! The Cartoons of Isadore Parker 1945-2003.

Light refreshments will be served and the event is free. All are welcome to attend. Please note that this event takes the place of the Museum‘s normally scheduled October lecture.  There will be no lecture in October, as the date of this event was so close to the third Tuesday of the month, which is the date when we normally hold our lectures.