After a long and cold winter in New York, I found myself waiting outside the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco on a warm and sunny day. As I was waiting for my appointment with the museum’s Education and Access Manager, I was already comparing San Francisco with New York, and my hometown of Istanbul, in terms of accessibility and whether museums in these cities are relevant to people with disabilities. Read more
Posts tagged ‘Access Programs’
Belonging, Equality, and Movement: Tracing Accessible and Inclusive Practices in San Francisco Museums
LAND (League Artists Natural Design) is a unique studio and gallery program of the League Education & Treatment Center in DUMBO, Brooklyn. At LAND, adult artists living with disabilities develop their skills in a nurturing environment, while their work is marketed to the community in a vibrant and inclusive manner. Read more
How do you say “accessibility” in French? As the Community and Access Programs Twelve-Month Intern at MoMA, I had the opportunity to venture to Paris and see how museums there provide access for people with disabilities. Read more
I’m not an artist. If someone set a blank canvas and some paint down in front of me with the instructions to “go at it,” I’d have a hard time. It’s intimidating! Read more
As today is Veterans Day, I’d like to share a little history about MoMA’s commitment to veterans, as well as some news about what we’re doing now. The Museum has a long history of serving veterans—dating back to the creation of the War Veterans’ Art Center Read more
The Department of Education has a long history of working with an array of audiences in its mission to make the collection accessible to people of all abilities, backgrounds, and ages. Over the years we’ve come to recognize what a major part of the Museum audience senior citizens are—which makes sense since, according to statistics from the American Association of Retired Persons, individuals age 65 and over constitute one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. population. Read more
For The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project, my colleagues and I work to expand upon MoMA’s programs for individuals with dementia and their caregivers, which currently include gallery conversations and art-making programs at MoMA as well as off-site visits to assisted-living facilities. Read more
In September, one of the participants of Create Ability, MoMA’s monthly program for individuals with learning or developmental disabilities and their families, asked me, “Why don’t we have our own exhibition?” We were returning to the classroom to create our own art after a gallery tour wherein we’d discussed The Moroccans by Henri Matisse, Harlequin by Pablo Picasso, and the neon-colored sculptures by Franz West outside in the Sculpture Garden. I immediately began gathering artwork created each subsequent month, and on Thursday, March 4, the opening reception for the first exhibition of work produced by Create Ability participants was held. Read more
When approached by Francesca Rosenberg to design the Meet Me publication for MoMA’s Access Programs, we were given three criteria:
2. Don’t make it look like a guidebook (even though, in its essence, it is a guidebook).
3. Make the content accessible to three diverse audiences: museum professionals, care organizations, and individual families.
The unusual color request was just one sign of how MoMA’s Access Program educators were contributing to an ideological shift in the way both institutions and individuals think about Alzheimer’s disease. This was not going to be just another black-and-gray manual. The intention was to create a book that was uplifting in both function and form, focusing on the fact that life can still be meaningful and joyful for these families, a book that embodies the mission and focus of the Meet Me at MoMA program. This was going to be a book about inspiring meaningful interactive experiences, making connections between people and art, and making art accessible. It would be anything but a guidebook. Read more
One of the reasons I enjoy working in Access Programs at MoMA is that we get to experience things with our program participants that other visitors would like to do, but can’t. For instance, visitors who are blind and partially sighted have the opportunity to touch sculptures on display in the galleries and in the Sculpture Garden. Who wouldn’t love to get their hands on an original bronze bust by Picasso or Matisse? Another bonus for Access Programs participants is that many of our programs are scheduled on Tuesdays, when the Museum is otherwise closed to the public. Ah, to be in a room with Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night and not have to dodge the crowds!
This is exactly the situation when we hold our monthly Meet Me at MoMA program, an interactive gallery tour for people with dementia and their care partners. During these ninety-minute sessions, the Museum becomes theirs, and the quiet galleries are the perfect setting for MoMA’s educators to lead the individuals in the group in sharing their thoughts and interpretations of artworks from MoMA’s collection or special exhibitions. The stimulation and socialization that are fundamental to the MoMA program not only help to improve behavior and mood, but also dramatically improve quality of life. I have experienced numerous situations in which people come to MoMA in a non-communicative, anxious, or withdrawn state. For many, a transformation occurs in the galleries. Art can tap into old memories. It was in front of Marc Chagall’s I and the Village that a man with Alzheimer’s disease shared a story about the cemetery where his mother is buried, information that his wife had never been aware of. Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie led another man to talk about his days as a single man enjoying the nightclubs in New York in the 1940s—just like Mondrian himself. Other comments reveal how the art stimulates the participants in the here and now. For example, a woman with dementia spoke insightfully about how the colors and light in Claude Monet’s Water Lilies were inviting and joyful to her. After leading many art programs with people with dementia, I have seen firsthand that satisfying emotional and intellectual experiences are possible on both sides of the care partnership.
We wanted to share these meaningful experiences and results with a broader audience, so Museum educators worked with Graphic Design and Digital Media staff to develop a publication and website that would reflect the experience of the Meet Me at MoMA program. These resources also provide additional information in the form of interviews with experts in the fields of art, aging, and Alzheimer’s; findings from our evidence-based research study; and guides for developing and implementing art programs in a variety of settings.
I encourage you to take a look at the site!