Thursday, October 31, 2013

Art for Everyone

A few weeks ago I posted about our rocking elder law students who were painting with the residents with dementia at a local nursing home. I was interested to see an article in the New York Times on October 25, 2013 by Tanya Mohn who wrote about steps taken by museums and galleries to make their exhibits accessible to all.

Welcoming Art Lovers with Disabilities describes the efforts of a number of art museums and galleries not only to make their exhibits accessible for everyone, but to provide visitors with the ability to experience the art.  Here is a mention of just a few of the institutions featured in the article. 

The Metropolitan Museum  of Art (NY) offers an exhibit of art made by those individuals who have no or little vision.  These artists "created works inspired by objects in the museum’s collection that were described to them by sighted instructors and that they were also allowed to touch."  Another part of the Museum offers a tour  in sign language and there are periodic "multisensory stations" that allow a hands-on experience (touch, smell, descriptions and music). In fact, the Met offers a number of programs for visitors who have special needs or with sensory limitations, including individuals who have no or partial sight, are deaf or have hearing loss, have dementia, or with intellectual disabilities.  I took a look at the Met's programs for individuals with dementia and their caregivers, and noticed that they have several options, including "multisensory activities" and a specifically created program at the Cloisters museum and accompanying gardens, known as "Sights and Scents".

The New York Times article also describes the "mobile multimedia guide" offered at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts wing-Arts of America. In Chicago, the article notes, the Art Institute is looking into 3-D printing for art reproduction which would allow patrons to investigate the "sensory elements of objects" not possible in a traditional exhibit.  This, the article notes, would be particularly helpful for those with Alzheimer's.  The article includes a program at the U. of Fla. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, which has a "road show" called "Art for Life" where they take programs to long term care facilities for those residents unable to make a trip to the museum. 

The article discusses many more efforts by various museums and shows how a little ingenuity and application of technology can make art available to everyone.

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