This June, the Jewish Museum of Maryland (JMM) will open Just Married! Wedding Stories from Jewish Baltimore, a new exhibit that explores how Jewish Marylanders, past and present, express their identities as American Jews and Jewish Americans through the wedding experience.
Opening June 18, and running through September 17, Just Married! incorporates the JMM’s collections of wedding artifacts — including dresses, invitations, albums, ketubahs (Jewish wedding contracts), photos and more — to show how Jewish Marylanders navigated the distinct demands of both their religious and secular identities when planning and enjoying the wedding day.
“Not only are weddings social events, but they are opportunities to create a meaningful expression of who we are. Just Married! explores how we incorporate heritage, culture, family and community into the big day,” says Tracie Guy-Decker, associate director at the Museum and project manager for the exhibition.
Just Married!, curated by the JMM, is divided into five exhibits that define the wedding experience. These sections look at a variety of topics from how customs and rituals become part of the wedding process and how we adapt traditions to fit our needs to the “Business of Weddings,” which explores the well-known (and not so well-known) wedding-related businesses in Maryland. In addition to looking at such things as interfaith and same-sex marriages.
Throughout the five sections filled with textiles, stories, interactive exhibits and photos, from 1830 to present day, the wedding story unfolds. Some of the treasures on display include:
• Wedding gowns, including a gold wedding dress from the 1940s worn by a divorcee, because norms dictated that divorced women couldn’t wear white.
• Ketubahs from the 1830s to today exploring the ways this wedding “contract” has transformed in both aesthetics and content.
• A bris gown fashioned from the child’s mother’s wedding gown, and other artifacts that bear the literal thread of generational connection.
• Etiquette books, Jewish and secular, that not only list wedding ceremony “musts,” but provide a glimpse into our cultural identity throughout the past century.
The exhibition also incorporates an online exhibition, Marrying Maryland, featuring photos and invitations from Maryland weddings that have some connection to the Jewish community.
In conjunction with the exhibit, the JMM will feature a series of public programs including lectures, panel discussions, children’s activities and a Stoop Storytelling program on Jewish weddings. For a list of all events and to learn more about the exhibit at jewishmuseummd.org.