About Jen Maxcy

Jen Maxcy is the Head of Family Programs at the Skirball where she helps oversee everything from playdates to specials events, art projects and the archaeology dig. Originally from the East Coast, Jen came to LA as an actor years ago to take a “short break” from New York. She now happily resides in Santa Monica with her two children, her partner Timm and his son, two silly dogs, and a rabbit. Often referred to as a “hippy” by her children, Jen enjoys connecting to people, animals, and nature—and loves her work at the Skirball.

Celebrating Hanukkah with Lisa Loeb

Photo by Juan Patino.

Photo by Juan Patino.

Shortly after last year’s Skirball Hanukkah Festival, I came across an article in the Jewish Journal announcing a new Hanukkah song called “Light,” written and performed by Lisa Loeb. As a big fan of Lisa’s music from my days as a twentysomething, I immediately clicked on the link to hear the song, which, of course, I loved. What’s special about Lisa is that she’s an equally cool and soulful performer who appeals to both adults and children. When I heard how beautiful her new song was, I knew she’d be perfect for our next Hanukkah Family Festival.

The song’s themes of light and hope are especially resonant for us here at the Skirball, where we want every visitor not only to have a great time but also to learn meaningful messages. This year’s festival, entitled “Celebrating Our Light,” explores the light of hope, courage, and resilience that shines in each one of us and helps us accomplish amazing things together. We’re thrilled that Lisa will be joining us as a featured performer on December 13. My kids and I are equally excited!

Recently, Lisa took a moment to talk with us about what Hanukkah means to her, as well as some of her favorite musical influences growing up.

Interview has been edited for clarity.

Tell us a little bit about how you celebrate Hanukkah.
I love standing around the glowing candles of the menorah with the lights off in the kitchen. My husband and I have made it a tradition to make latkes at least once during the holiday. We try not to eat all of them before the plate gets to the kitchen table for dinner. Over the last few years, we’ve started inviting over some of my daughter’s friends to light the lights with us and share our holiday with people who don’t celebrate Hanukkah. Continue reading

Lost and Found: A Noir Adventure

In November, children and their families participated in “Skirball Playdate: Mildred’s Purse,” a morning-long adventure offered in connection with the exhibition Light & Noir: Exiles and Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933–1950. The program included a special performance by Skirball educator Anna Dresdon, who played the title character based on the 1945 film noir Mildred Pierce. Having lost precious items from her purse, “Mildred” asked the children to help her do some detective work. Armed with special hats and magnifying glasses, they all worked together to search the exhibition for the missing items.

Before heading out into the galleries, the young detectives made their own 1940s-inspired hats. SkirBlog_Mildred's Purse_1


What’s this? A clue on the red carpet? SkirBlog_Mildred's Purse_2


I found it! One little boy discovered Mildred’s lost Oscar inside the office of Hollywood agent Paul Kohner, which is re-created as part of the Light & Noir exhibition. SkirBlog_Mildred's Purse_3


Beads from Mildred’s prized necklace were discovered rolling around in the Casablanca section of the exhibition.  Continue reading

Two Benjamins

Military uniform (jacket, epaulets, waistcoat, breeches, tricorn hat, and wig) and leather satchel of Jonathan Bancroft of Massachusetts, 1777-ca. 1789. From the collection of Dr. Gary Milan

Military uniform (jacket, epaulets, waistcoat, breeches, tricorn hat, and wig) and leather satchel of Jonathan Bancroft of Massachusetts, 1777-ca. 1789. From the collection of Dr. Gary Milan.

The day I planned to bring my eleven-year-old son, Benjamin, to Creating the United States, I called my dad. My parents still live in the house I grew up in, just a few towns over from where the shot heard ‘round the world rang out (this is how Schoolhouse Rocks memorialized that event, remember?) and only a short trip from where Paul Revere rode his famous ride. Dad, who grew up in Lexington, MA, is a man who has always been surrounded by—and fascinated with—history.

In fact, it was my dad whom I thought most about when I first walked through Creating the United States. I looked closely at the old documents, the artifacts, and the photographs, and took a journey through the American Revolution. As I stood in front of the uniform of a Continental Army officer (which also caught the eye of The Family Savvy, in this enthusiastic write-up), I thought of Dad and the stories he told about Revolutionary War muskets that our family once housed as part of a collection.

A historical artifact from my family’s own American story: Danforth Maxcy's canteen.

A historical artifact from my family’s own American story: Danforth Maxcy's canteen.

The old satchel displayed alongside the uniform reminded me of things that men carried to war, like the Civil War−era canteen that still sits in my parents’ living room. It once belonged to Danforth Maxcy (my great-great-great-great-uncle), who was injured at the Battle of Gettysburg and died on the train ride back home to Maine. He was twenty-one. Continue reading

Step Right Up for Family Fun

I can’t believe it’s Labor Day Weekend! There hasn’t been a dull moment here in Family Programs all summer long. What has been so wonderful is to see families come in for one of our Family Amphitheater Performances, check out the Family Art Studio, pop over to our archaeological dig site, and play games as part of our Game On! program….all in one afternoon. One day, there was a family from Miami who had never been to the Skirball. When they arrived at the art studio, their eldest daughter (there were three kids total, and I’m guessing the eldest was around eleven) was feeling a bit grumpy. She just didn’t want to be there (there was even some tears). But by the time they left, the whole family was all smiles. The mom let me know how grateful she was that they had visited such a wonderful and special place. That’s music to my ears!

Just one more weekend to enjoy summer family fun at the Skirball. To get you excited about coming over, check out some highlights that I (along with a few from photographer friends) captured from the past few weeks.