educator, media producer, museum interpretive planner
Working closely with designers, curators, and historians, Leonard Majzlin has specialized in museum-interpretive planning and learning through technology in public space. He plans and develops media for museum exhibits, cultural institutions, and visitor centers based on visitor learning behavior and design principles. He also creates writes, directs, and/or produces media for development and fundraising. Prior to his museum work, he wrote, directed, and/or produced numerous business and corporate communications, trade shows, industrial films, and corporate sales meetings.
For NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education, Culture & Human Development, he developed and teaches the course Media for Learning in Museum Exhibits & Public Space in the EDUCATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS & TECHNOLOGY / DIGITAL MEDIA DESIGN FOR LEARNING MA and PhD Program:
Media for Learning in Museum Exhibits & Public Space explores the variety of media available to curators of exhibit space and publicly shared learning environments, how these environments are unique learning experiences and how one can enhance learning in these spaces by examining the interaction between visitor behavior, exhibit design and technology affordances. For the purposes of the course, the definition of media and technology is broadened to include every physical or electronic, or sensory means that engages the visitor and/or conveys or generates meaning. The course draws from on-site visits, and other disciplines including theater, architecture, philosophy, audio, installation art, film, photography, video, video games, and social media.
Students explore the nature, affordances, application, and use of technology through the analysis of site visits and case studies. Emphasis is on in-depth analysis of the visitor experience and the ways by which media choices can create meaningful engagement for the visitor while serving a museum's educational goals.
On behalf of the Museum at Eldridge Street (formerly the Eldridge Street Project, a landmark Synagogue Restoration and Preservation Project,) Mr. Majzlin wrote, photographed, and directed (1986-1987) a fundraising media presentation about immigrants to New York City's Lower East Side at the turn of the century. Narrated by Geraldine Fitzgerald, this media piece earned a Gold Award from the International Film & TV Festival, as well as a Bronze award (Fundraising Category) and a Crystal Apple (Best Original Photography) from the Association of Multi-Image (AMI) NY, and was successful in raising sufficient funds to ultimately complete this beautiful restoration. This latter project is one of numerous museum-oriented projects to which Mr. Majzlin has contributed, including (1989-1993) interpretive Master Plan for the Arizona Historical Society; (1990) interpretive Master Plan for the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, (1990) the Museum of the American Constitution at Federal Hall (NYC); (1991) City Lore, Inc./Public Library Exhibit on the history of New York City's 150-year-old Tompkins Square. Mr. Majzlin was a media consultant and advisor to "Am Olam," (1989-1992) an interactive outdoor museum, visitor center, and national theme park planned for a location in Israel, based on the history of Judaic civilization. Other exhibits include the New York City Transit Museum; (1992-93); media components to "A Worthy Use of Summer" for the National Museum of American Jewish History (1993), and subsequently for The Jewish Museum (NYC). He created "The Harvey Years Video," a humorous video tribute honoring Harvey Lichtenstein, past President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music; (1994) wrote the walk-through script (Acoustiguide) for NYC's Jewish Museum core exhibit "Culture & Continuity" (narrated by Dustin Hoffman); (1994-1995) produced a highly successful fundraising video for the Alliance for the Arts' Estate Project for Artists with AIDS (hosted by Charlie Rose). Some of these and other projects were produced under the aegis of The American History Workshop (Bklyn, NY). Working with historian Richard Rabinowitz, he headed the research and media-gathering for “Entertaining America,” the Jewish Museum's major exhibit on Jewish Americans and the entertainment industry. In conjunction with RBH Multimedia, Inc., he also served as Associate Producer/Director to a five-screen video for the Jewish Museum's core exhibit that used text from Ecclesiastes to illustrate contemporary challenges and directions in Judaism. He was part of the development team of Telling Lives, a computer/video interactive public history project of American History Workshop in conjunction with the University of Toronto and the NY Historical Society, to collect the voices of ordinary citizens and engage them in a two-way learning environment about their own lives and history.
A provocative mixed media art exhibit of Mr. Majzlin's work (video installations, mixed media, photographic collage) "Waiting to Be Seen," premiered in August 2000 at the Center for Contemporary Art, Abilene, TX, and toured art venues and universities throughout the state.
In 1982, he was instrumental in launching the first feature-length film documentary dealing with the nuclear issue -- "Dark Circle," (Independent Documentary Group.) The film focuses on the connections between the nuclear weapons and the nuclear power industries. (1983 Grand Prize, U.S. Film & Video Festival, Sundance, Blue Ribbon-American Film Festival; Gold Medal-Houston Int'l Film Festival, Certificate of merit-Academy Awards Committee.) In 2019, Leonard supported its re-release to theaters and tv as a high-definition (HD) digital file, newly scanned, re-mastered, and restored, which has been made available gratis to relevant nonprofits working on nuclear power and weapons issues.
Mr. Majzlin is presently the Media Advisor to The Legacy Project, an ongoing series of educational video documentaries featuring prominent American playwrights, lyricists, and composers who are interviewed by younger playwrights, discussing the craft of writing for the theater. It is produced under the aegis of the Dramatists Guild Foundation. Volume I. includes Joseph Stein, Edward Albee, Arthur Laurents, Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock, John Kander, A.R. Gurney, Lanford Wilson, Steven Sondheim, Charles Strouse, Lee Adams. Vol. II includes Tina Howe, Mary Rodgers, John Guare, Tom Meehan, Jules Feiffer, Charles Fuller, Terrence McNally, Lynn Ahrens and Steven Flaherty, Frank Gilroy, Tom Jones, and Harvey Schmidt. Vol. III includes John Weidman/J.T. Rogers, Larry Kramer/George C. Wolfe, Tony Kushner, Chris Durang, James Lapine/Lisa Kron, Alan Menken, Nancy Ford, Gretchen Cryer, Mikki Grant, John Patrick Shanley, and Stephen Schwartz/Jeanine Tesori. These exciting videos are available on YouTube.
(1985) contributed short films to Vermont Education Television; For network broadcast celebrating the bicentennial of the American Constitution, (1990-1991) Mr. Majzlin co-wrote a one-hour ABC television special, "The Living Law," (Camera Three/Producer) narrated by Theo Bikel, which compared the American Constitution with the evolution of Judaic law. (1996-1997) Production and Content Advisor to PBS special, "At Home on The Range," a documentary about Jews in rural Texas. Mr. Majzlin's videos, photographic collage, and assemblage work has been represented at Beth Hatefutsoth, the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, Tel Aviv (1992), as well as the Center for Contemporary Art, Abilene, TX.
Mr. Majzlin is a member of the American Alliance of Museums, of N.A.M.E., and has been a member of the AAM's Standing Professional Committees on Museum Education, and Media & Technology.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Leonard Majzlin graduated from the George School, a Quaker school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rutherford, New Jersey. He worked side by side with Joseph Papp as a stage manager and charter member of the New York Shakespeare Festival (1956-1960), then was assistant producer for the national touring companies of a number of Broadway plays (1961-1965). He agented at the William Morris Theatrical Agency (1965-1970) before becoming an independent writer, producer, director of audiovisual and media presentations.
In the 1985-86 NY theater season, he formed The Bedda Roses Company, Inc. to produce musical plays in fresh and innovative ways. The first venture in that area was the highly praised Off-Broadway musical, "To Whom It May Concern." Written by Carol Hall and directed by Geraldine Fitzgerald, it premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival under noted producer Nikos Psacharopoulos. In 1987, he shifted his emphasis from the corporate sector to museums and their educational needs.
Mr. Majzlin is a major contributor to The Prospect Theater, since 1998 one of Off-Broadway’s leading producers of new musicals. He has recently been the writing commission sponsor of their VISION Series, a video production initiative launched in 2020 to continue presenting original musical theater works, while public gatherings are on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These short-form original musical theater works on video are available for free, online, via Prospect's YouTube Channel.
Mr. Majzlin has, in addition, co-authored and illustrated a humorous book (St. Martin's Press, 1986) titled, "How to Visit Your Mother." It has recently been re-released in Germany. Mr. Majzlin makes his home in New York City and Palm Springs, CA, and continues to be an artist member of the Center for Contemporary Arts in Abilene, TX. He was married to the late composer/lyricist Carol Hall and is the proud stepfather of Susannah Blinkoff, a screenwriter and songwriter/singer, and Daniel Blinkoff, an actor… and grandfather to Wally Corngold, a burgeoning genius, and to Valentina Corngold, an emerging gifted, artistic, beautiful young woman.