Category Archives: Repost

Art Museum Hires Neuroscientist. Repost

This Art Museum Hired a Neuroscientist to Change the Way We Look at Art

  • Anila Quayyum Agha, All the Flowers Are for Me, 2017. Courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum.

From the late 16th to the early 20th century, the salon-style hang was the predominant display convention across Europe. But hanging paintings like this—crammed cheek to jowl in a gallery space—has since fallen out of favor, in part because it tends to prevent viewers from concentrating on a single work.

But why, exactly? The reason may have something to do with the circuitry of the human brain—which is why at least one museum is branching out and recruiting a neuroscientist to join its team.  “On a behavioral level, it can be distracting to walk into a room and have tons of things to look at,” said Dr. Tedi Asher, who earlier this year joined the Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem, Massachusetts, for a one-year appointment as Neuroscience Researcher. “At the level of neurological activation, each painting will be presented less strongly.”

I met with Asher at her office, where the walls are decorated with brain-themed cartoons and diagrams, including a jumbo-sized image of Purkinje cells in a mouse cerebellum. To corroborate her claim, Asher invoked the theory of sensory suppression, which holds that a barrage of sensory stimuli—such as the salon-style hang—deadens the optical-neurological apparatus of the viewer.

She illustrated the point by pointing to her smartphone and a plastic pen. “If you have multiple objects in the same view, you’re going to have some neurons that respond to the phone and other neurons that respond to the pen,” she said. “It’s been shown that the neurons that respond to one are going to actively suppress the neurons that respond to the other. The representation of the objects in the brain seems to be weakened by having multiple objects.”

The appointment of Asher is part of a broader campaign by Dan Monroe, the museum’s Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Director and CEO, to deploy neuroscience in the service of exhibition design.

Under his leadership, this mid-sized museum north of Boston, which is best known for its extensive holdings in Asian and maritime art, has already gained national attention for convention-busting exhibitions. At the entrance to “Asia in Amsterdam: The Culture of Luxury in the Golden Age,” visitors were greeted by cylinders of spices—cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns—that promoted more lasting memories by engaging multiple senses. For “Rodin: Transforming Sculpture,” a troupe of live dancers confounded viewer’s expectations of the white cube.

Hiring Asher in May was the next step in pushing forward the Peabody’s mission. Over the next year, she’ll meet regularly with an advisory panel of neuroscientists, and will ultimately produce a publication that crystallizes her findings.

“Anecdotally, we’re all familiar with the idea that a satisfying experience has this delicate balance of meeting and violating our expectations,” Asher said. “In the context of exhibition design, how can we surprise people in a way that won’t be jarring but will help viewers make sense of what they have seen? Something that is unexpected takes longer to detect—but it also makes a more lasting imprint.” At the Peabody Essex, Asher will apply the principles of neuroaesthetics—the synthesis of neuroscience and aesthetics—to a reinstallation of the museum’s permanent collection that will unfold over the next five years. Since arriving at the museum, she has been an advocate for the gallery-goer’s brain, making the case for display conventions that sidestep outmoded curatorial strategies (overloaded walls, indigestible wall text).

How the White Cube Came to Dominate the Art World

One idea that she is developing are rest areas, or “palate cleansers,” that will allow visitors a respite from sensory stimulation, much like the intermission in a play.

The implicit aim of the museum’s neuroscience initiative, made possible by a $130,000 grant from the Boston-based Barr Foundation, is to boost the institution’s relevance at a time of declining attendance across the museum landscape. A 2015 study by the National Endowment for the Arts presented a startling number: Only 21 percent of adults in the United States visited a museum or gallery in 2012, a drop of 5.5 percent from 2002. While the Peabody Essex Museum has defied this trend—over the same period, attendance at the museum has risen steadily—it is nonetheless attuned to the plight of the museum sector as a whole.

“The loss of attendance leaves one to ask, ‘What are the dynamics that are causing this?’” said Monroe. “The strategies and practices that we, as a field, continue to employ are not very effective and, in my view, never will be—they do not recognize the way that people’s brains works.

“That said, we have to all recognize that neuroscience is in its infancy. Nobody understands, for example, how consciousness is created or even what it is.…Ultimately, the deciding factor will be whether or not we’re able to demonstrate that, by better understanding some key elements of the way our brains work, we can create experiences that more people find meaningful and impactful.”

  • Bosoma Dance Company perform in “Rodin: Transforming Sculpture’ at the Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Swong95765, via Flickr.

  • Bosoma Dance Company perform in “Rodin: Transforming Sculpture’ at the Peabody Essex Museum. Photo by Swong95765, via Flickr.

Asher arrived at the Peabody Essex Museum almost by happenstance, dashing off a cover letter to the museum when an advertisement for the position was circulated on an internal listserv. Raised in Washington, D.C., she remembers “falling over” after seeing Claude Monet’s haystacks at the Art Institute of Chicago but ultimately dedicated herself to the sciences, receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology from Swarthmore College and later a Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School’s Biological and Biomedical Sciences program, where she investigated the linkage between aggression in male mice and serotonin-producing neurons. Her role at the Peabody Essex Museum is that of a benign disruptor, evaluating the format of forthcoming exhibitions in the context of neural pathways. “People seem to appreciate that I’m a little bit of an outsider,” she said.

Having a scientist on staff might be a new development, but the machinery of vision—and the relationship between sensation and perception—has vexed art lovers for millennia. In Art and Illusion (1960), Ernst Gombrich tells of a Pythagorean sage who, upon considering the case of a cloud that resembles a centaur or stag antelope, surmised that perception is a creative act on the part of the beholder. Or, as Gombrich put it: “What we read into these accidental shapes depends on our capacity to recognize in them things or images we find stored in our minds.” Thus, an image is not an index of the material world but a function of the brain.

“The beholder’s share, as it’s known, is a classic problem in art history,” Eric Kandel told me. He’s a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist at Columbia University and author of Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures (2016). “What’s going on in the beholder’s head when he looks at a work of art? This is an ongoing area of research. It’s still in its early stages but potentially quite interesting and, I think, quite important.”

In recent years, Kandel has emerged as an evangelist for interdisciplinary inquiry, taking it upon himself to mend the schism between art and science “by focusing on a common point at which the two cultures can meet and influence each other,” as he writes at the beginning of his book. Nevertheless, some art historians are skeptical of neuroaesthetics, which may at times slip into “a spurious reduction of art to the science of the brain,” as Jonathan Gilmore, currently an Assistant Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and Baruch College, wrote in 2006.

  • Portrait of Tedi Asher. Courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum.

  • Anila Quayyum Agha, All the Flowers Are for Me, 2017. Courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum.

“Some art historians are enthusiastic [about neuroaesthetics], and others think it’s ridiculous,” said Kandel. “They say, ‘What does it have to offer? It demeans art to think that it has a biological explanation.’ But they should not worry: Neuroscience is not going to replace an art-historical approach to art; it’s going to supplement and enrich it.

“This is a very interesting experiment on the part of [the Peabody Essex Museum],” Kandel continued. “One of the things that strikes me with many current exhibitions is that they’re too damn large! It’s absolutely exhausting to go through them.”

For her part, Asher is sensitive to the fact that her appointment is a landmark event—but she’s also eager to focus on the business at hand. The challenge before her is to apply lessons from carefully designed experiments in a laboratory setting to the business of running an art museum with more than 300 personnel and an operating budget of $30 million. “The way [my colleagues here] talk about things feels much less structured than in the science world, where it is much more about connecting the dots,” she said. “I feel like there is more fluidity to how things are approached in a museum.”

After our interview, we entered the museum to see Anila Quayyum Agha’s All the Flowers Are for Me, an immersive installation in which the white cube has been converted into a light chamber, with a foliate pattern projected on the floor, walls, and ceiling. Encased in a lemon-colored aureole, Asher expounded on the neurological processes at work in our experience of the installation—and the sensation of being caressed by light.

“Your experience of this installation depends on what it reminds you of,” she said. “When you recall a memory, the regions of your cortex that process different senses become activated. So, if you’re looking at an image of a fur coat, you might feel as though you can touch the fur, and that’s because that part of your brain that would process the tactile experience is becoming activated by the memory.”

“But, of course,” she added, “it’s all in your mind.”

—Christopher Snow Hopkins

https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-art-museum-hired-neuroscientist-change-way-art

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Museum Accesibility Resources, repost from The Incluseum

The Incluseum is a project based in Seattle, Washington that advances new ways of being a museum through critical discourse, community building and collaborative practice related to inclusion in museums. The Incluseum is facilitated and coordinated by Aletheia Wittman and Rose Paquet Kinsley.

 

ONLINE:

Autism in the Museum This website offers examples and resources to museums and other informal educational setting interested in engaging with children on the autism spectrum. This site was launched by Lisa Jo Rudy, a museum writer, consultant, and mother of a teen with an autism spectrum diagnosis. She’s been involved with researching, writing, training, and consulting on autism and inclusion since 2006.

Center for the Future of Museums. (2008). Museums & Society 2034: Trends and Potential Futures. (Chapters of particular interest: The Changing Face of America).

Center for the Future of Museums. (2010). Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums.

Center for the Future of Museums. (2012). Trends Watch 2012: Museums and the Pulse of the Future. (Chapters of particular interest: Takin’ it to the Streets and Creative Aging.)

Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium has compiled a list of cultural accessibility and inclusion resources for everything from exhibition design to presentations.

Dodd, J., & Sandell, R. (2001). Including Museums: Perspectives on Museums, Galleries and Social Inclusion. Research Center for Museums and Galleries: University of Leicester.

The Empathetic Museum. This blog is a collaborative effort that explores what a culture of empathy looks like in museums.

From the Margins to the Core?  An international conference that explored the shifting roles and increasing significance of diversity and equality in contemporary museum and heritage policy and practice. Conference videos, reflections, and papers.

Group for Large Local Authority Museums. (2000). Museums and Social Inclusion: GLLAM Report. Research Center for Museums and Galleries: University of Leicester.

Jackson, M. R. and Herranz, J. (2003, November 1). Art and Culture in Communities: Unpacking Participation.

The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience: “…sites, individuals, and initiatives activating the power of places of memory to engage the public in connecting past and present in order to envision and shape a more just and humane future.” Organizations can join as members and gain access to resources, training and capacity building strategies provided by the Coalition.

Lopez, M. and Candiano, J. Room to Grow: A Guide to Arts Programming in Community Spaces for Families Affected by Autism. (2012).

Matarasso, F. (1997). Use or Ornement?: The Social Impact of Participation in the Arts. Comedia.

Multimodal Approaches to Learning Conference: Podcasts. A selection of presentations at the Multimodal Approaches to Learning Conferences, co-sponsored by Art Education for the Blind and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and held at the Met.

Museums & Race 2016 Reading List. Compiled by Planning Team Leaders and Facilitators of the Museum & Race 2016 Convening in Chicago.

Museums and Society. This is a free, peer-reviewed, online journal published by the University of Leicester’s School of Museum Studies. Some issues have interesting articles that touch on themes of social inclusion and representation.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). When the Going Gets Tough Report: Barriers and Motivations Affecting Arts Attendance.  (2015)

trivedi, nikhil. “Pronoun Stickers at MCN 2016.” Museum Computers Network Blog, (2016).

The Pop-Up Museum is a project directed by the Museum of  Art and History of Santa Cruz. The site hosts a great how-to, organizer’s kit and many examples of past pop-ups. You can even submit information regarding your own pop-up museum!

Reach & Associates. (2010). Who’s Coming to Your Museum? 

Resources for the Museum Industry to Discuss the Issue of Unpaid Internships. (2015). American Alliance of Museums.

Sandell, R. (2003). Social Inclusion, the Museum and the Dynamics of Sectoral Change. Museum and Society, 1 (1), 45–62. 

Sidford, H. (2010). Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy.  National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. (A recent analysis of this report here.)

Social Justice Alliance of Museum aims to build an international platform to promote best practices related to social justice and democracy in museums. The site hosts many inspiring case studies.

Southern Poverty Law Center’s, “Who’s Heritage? Public Symbols of the Confederacy” Report. (2016).

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. (2006). Community-Based Exhibition Model. 

PRINT:

Barrett, J. (2010). Museums and the Public Sphere. John Wiley and Sons.

Bourdieu, P. (1993). The Field of Cultural Production. Columbia University Press. (Bourdieu conducted early and extensive audience research at European art museums.  Conclusions of research address class barriers to access/social exclusion.)

Brown, C., Wood, E., & Salgado G. (Eds.). (2009). Inspiring Action: Museums and Social Change. London: MuseumsEtc.

Gurian, E. (2010). From Soloist to Impresario. In F. Cameron and L. Kelly (eds.) Hot Topics, Public Culture, Museums. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Gurian, E. (2010). Museums as Soup Kitchen. Curator: The Museum Journal 53(1), 71-85.

Kreps, Christina. (2003). Liberating Culture. Routledge.

Lonetree, Amy. (2012). Decolonizing Museums. UNC Press. (A project of First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies.)

Museums and Social Issues. (This is a peer-reviewed journal that explores contemporary social issues and their engagement with museums. Most issues are relevant to the theme of social inclusion in museums)

Sandell, R. (Ed.). (2002). Museums, Society, Inequality. New York: Routledge. (This book presents international examples of museums working towards social inclusion.)

Sandell, R.  & Nightingale, E. (Eds.). (2012). Museums, Equality, and Social Justice. New York: Routledge.

Silverman, L. (2010). The Social Work of Museums. London: Routledge.

Sullivan Sorin, G. (2007) The Problem of the 21st Century is Still the Color Line. Museums &  Social Issues 2(1), 11-44.  ( If you are interested in the Sorin & Ladson Billings articles then check out the article by Liz Dwyer)

Teslow, T. (2007). A Troubled Legacy: Making and Unmaking Race in the Museum. Museums & Social Issues, 2(1), 11–44.

ONLINE & PRINT – APPLICABLE TO THE MUSEUM FIELD AND BEYOND

You can read more about racial justice specific resources here.

Racial Equity Tools is designed to support individuals and groups working to achieve racial equity. This site offers tools, research, tips, curricula and ideas for people who want to increase their own understanding and to help those working toward justice at every level – in systems, organizations, communities and the culture at large.

A syllabus on Urban Design, Race and Justice posted on CityLab.com here.

#FergusonSyllabus, a crowdsourced syllabus about race, African American history, civil rights, and policing. Find an associated Atlantic piece about the syllabus here.

Applied Research Center. (2011). Racial Equity Impact Assessment Toolkit.

Eck, D. L. (2006). From Diversity to Pluralism. On Common Ground: World Religions in America, Columbia University Press.

Hayward, C. R., & Swanstrom, T. (2011). Justice and the American Metropolis. U of Minnesota Press.

Ladson-Billings, G. (2006). From the Achievement Gap to the Education Debt: Understanding Achievement in U.S. Schools. Educational Researcher, 35(7), 3 –12.

Low, S. Taplin, D. and S. Scheld. (2005). Rethinking Urban Parks: Public Space and Cultural Diversity. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

DISABILITY. DANCE. ARTISTRY. New York, July 8, 11am-6pm

Disability. Dance. Artistry. is a free, daylong series of convening focusing on a future for dance created and experienced with disabled New Yorkers. Commemorating the 25th anniversary year of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it builds on recent Dance NYC research, Discovering Disability: Data and NYC Dance and is part of a three-year Dance NYC initiative to increase inclusion and access to the art form. Join keynote speaker Simi Linton and leaders in the dance and disability communities to discuss the state of the art form. What are the opportunities for educating, developing, collaborating with and presenting disabled artists? How can disability advance innovation, excellence, and impact in dance?

Disability. Dance. Artistry Registration is Now Open

Register now to join the conversation. Don’t miss this opportunity to increase inclusion and access to the art form of dance.

When: Wednesday, July 8, 11am-6pm
Where: John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 860 11th Avenue, NYC
Register: FREE. Registration is required. Please reserve in advance. Accessible seating is available. Requests for reasonable accommodations should be made in advance by contacting Dance/NYC at 212.966.4452 (Voice only) specialevents@dancenyc.org. The event is in an open space around tables with chairs that are easy to remove. All seating will be accessible by default.

Accessibility for Under 100 Dollars (Repost)

Accessibility for Under 100 Dollars

Ways to create more accessible facilities and programs for under $100.

The following are ways to create more accessible facilities and programs for under $100.  These ideas have been compiled from the participants at the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) conferences for Arts administrators and managers over the past 5 years.

Betty Siegel, Director of Accessibility

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

  1. Add a cup dispenser to a water fountain that is too high.
  2. Adjust the gauge on a door to lessen the pressure and make it easier to open and close
  3. Ask local advocacy agencies to help you train staff and raise awareness.
  4. At a doorway that is difficult to open, have a doorbell that people can ring for assistance.
  5. Avoid glossy or highly reflective papers when printing program books or brochures.
  6. Be sure that staff always introduce themselves.  Someone who is blind or has low vision may not be able to read someone’s name badge or recognize an ushers uniform.
  7. Be sure your staff know the accessible paths of travel and shortest routes around the facility.
  8. Bevel thresholds with pieces of wood.
  9. Color and shape code information.
  10. Contact disability organizations and host an open house for their members.
  11. Correct toilet heights with adjustable seats from Home Depot or other stores.
  12. Create lower counter areas by putting in tables.
  13. Don’t use red and green together. Many people have red/green color blindness.
  14. Encouraging people to ask for assistance.
  15. Focus on great customer service.
  16. Form an advisory board of persons with disabilities from the community.
  17. Have a clipboard available for transactions at a counter that is too high.
  18. In an elevator where the buttons are too high, have a wand available to push them.
  19. Include information about accessibility in your marketing materials.
  20. Increase lighting in dark areas.
  21. Install easy to use handles on the inside of the doors on wheelchair accessible bathroom stalls.
  22. Invite rehabilitation centers for people who are blind to use your facility for orientation training.
  23. Invite service animal training schools to do training at your facility.
  24. Join disability-related list serves to get to know the communities.
  25. Keep paths of travel 36 inches wide and free of obstructions.
  26. Lower labels on artwork so that short or seated persons can read them.
  27. Make labels for artwork or other things hanging around in large print.
  28. Make signage directing patrons to your access services prominent.
  29. Make unsold seats available to patrons who are on fixed and limited incomes.
  30. Move furniture, potted plants, and trashcans out of the path of travel to create an accessible route.
  31. Move soap dispensers and paper towels to positions that are easy to reach.
  32. Organize a pre-show touch tour.
  33. Place access symbols are on your marketing materials and maps.
  34. Place public materials on lower counters and tables.
  35. Place wood blocks or bricks under tables that are too short.
  36. Point out accessible routes of travel with signs.
  37. Print self-guided tours for people with hearing loss who couldn’t follow a docent.
  38. Produce programs, playbills and other print materials in large print -sans serif font,16-18 point.
  39. Provide maps of accessible routes of travel.
  40. Provide scripts in advance for people to read.
  41. Purchase a couple induction neck loops for your Assistive Listening Receivers
  42. Put light colored tape on the edge of steps or places where there is a change in level.
  43. Put non-slip material on slippery floor surfaces. NoSkidding.com has products for this purpose.
  44. Put together a speakers group to go out and talk to local disability community groups.
  45. Remind staff not to turn their backs when speaking to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  46. Replace low wattage light bulbs with higher wattage bulbs.
  47. Replace round door knobs with levered handles.
  48. Send notices of audio described performance to patrons who are blind or have low vision.
  49. Send notices of interpreted and captioned performances to patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  50. Train docents to modify language on tours to be appropriate for the appropriate audience.
  51. Train staff about accommodations provided and how to use them.
  52. Train your staff in how to use relay services.  Don’t forget the nationwide 711 relay service.
  53. Try different types of alternative formats such as on audio options like tapes and CDs.
  54. Use e-mail distribution lists to target audiences for specific events.
  55. Use high contrast paint colors between walls and floors to help people with low vision navigate.
  56. Use high-contrast colors on labels for art work. White on black, or black on white.
  57. Use pump style soap dispensers.
  58. Utilize technical staff expertise to create accessibility.
  59. Wrap pipes under sinks with insulation so people don’t burn themselves.
  60. Write an easy to understand synopsis of the play and have it available at the box office.

 

– See more at: http://www.oregonartscommission.org/publications-and-resources/accessibility-under-100-dollars#sthash.GvW451Di.uPsYam9d.dpuf

 

Repost from http://www.oregonartscommission.org/publications-and-resources/accessibility-under-100-dollars

Art Beyond Sight Interviews Michelle Lopez (Queens Museum)

INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE LOPEZ

published by Art Beyond Sight, Oct, 2013

Michelle Lopez is the senior program coordinator of Queens Museum of Art. Having served children and families on the autism spectrum as an ABA Instructor, counselor and trainer, she is now working with Queens Museum of Art’s ArtAccess library programs and coordinates the Autism Initiatives program, which is a multi-year partnership with the Queens Library. Through this program, families can access bilingual studio art classes held at the various Queens Library branches. Programs have included classes such as Photography Class, Beautiful Oops, and The Magic Tree House series. The Magic Tree House, a 6-week series, provided students of all reading levels with the chance to make art inspired by the themes in books 1-4 of the book series.

 

ART BEYOND SIGHT: Why did you become involved with ArtAccess/Autism Initiatives? MICHELLE LOPEZ: Art access is the part of our education department that focuses on special needs, so I was interested in working with it because of my art therapy background. In terms of Autism Initiatives, back when I was in school I gained experience from working at a preschool with children on the autism spectrum. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do at the time but that’s when I became interested in autism. When I started working at the Queens Museum of Art, we had a grant for the new New Yorkers program, which is a program for adults and the immigrant community. So at the time, most of the programs were for adults but the coordinator wanted to make programs for families as well, including programs for early childhood. It just so happened that one of the families of the program had a child on the autism spectrum – this family invited other friends and family of the autism community and the number of classmates increased therea􀅌er. The coordinator of this new program wasn’t familiar with working with those on the autism spectrum. That’s when I came to help out – it ended up becoming a popular and successful class. And at the same time, the Queens Library was looking to gain training for working with families and children with special needs – that’s when I decided to focus more on autism and became involved with Autism Initiatives.

ABS: What is the goal of Autism Initiatives?

ML: The goal overall is to create more inviting institutions for families on the autism spectrum. Thankfully, looking at how things are now, it looks like a lot of the museums have gone on that journey, starting their own au- tism initiatives. I think now, were really thinking about the relationship of community spaces for individuals on the autism spectrum so that they can develop relationships with these institutions. Another goal is to offer prac- tical tools to help families understand how to use a museum. These families can then pass these tools onto others. Last but not least, another goal would be teaching these families to use this cultural network to their advantage. The focus of Autism Initiatives has shi􀅌ed from children to families in recent years. Due to this, our main focus is socialization because sometimes educators can feel intimidated and vice versa. So a primary goal is socialization.

ABS: What are some programs that have been created through Autism Initiatives?

ML: We first started with photography classes, then DJ classes, to traditional art making classes and art-making classes inspired by books. We’ve also done composing, lighting classes – whatever is of interest of the educators. Programs are o􀅌en educator driven so it usually comes down to the educator. If the educator is passionate about a specific topic, the participants are more willing to learn about it because it is presented to them in an exciting way. Because every child is interested in having a positive experience, we will really initiate any program that an educator is willing to teach as long as they are open to opening up their curriculum in this manner.

ABS: What kind of skills do you focus on enriching in the classroom? Through programs such like the Magic Tree House series?

ML: A series like the Magic Tree House series happens over 6 weeks, so we start with socialization skills. Children learn to greet each other and to reinforce the action of acknowledging their peers. For the Magic Tree House series in particular, we were also trying to wean children off of picture books. Since many children are visual learners, they tend to need that . The great thing about the Magic Tree House series is that there is a set beginning, middle, and end to the story line, and they always focus on science or social study based needs – subjects part of a school’s core curriculum. One thing I’d like to emphasize is that it’s not that children can’t learn, it’s that you want to get them to learn. The idea is to introduce them to themes that will come up in the book and get them interested in those themes. If the theme is mummies, we will introduce them to the idea of Egypt so when they read the books in class or with their parents, they begin to see certain words come to life because of the previous reenactments in class. This applies to children whether they can read or not. We want children to be eventually able to do this on their own. We show parents that the vocabulary of a visual thinker can be built by adding images to words – and images can be added to words by playing around with material found at home. The ultimate goal is to help them be independent in their reading and get them interested in topics.

ABS: Who do you think adults benefit from participating in programs like the Open Studio program? (The Open Studio is a program for adults only)

ML: First and foremost, the adults come on Sunday and they register for every class individually. We don’t want a large group to book during that time because we want adults to live independently. For instance, there might not be enough space for an adult to register due to group booking. We want adults to feel like a􀆩ending this class is entirely up to them – they book the class and they a􀆩end. We also charge a dollar in order to help them understand money management. Usually, 2-4 participants come to each class. The adults choose what they want to do because, they’re adults. If they want to make cards, have a conversation, whatever it is they want to do, it is up to them. We have participants that come every week and work on one art piece for a long period of time with their own materials. The idea here is not to teach them to make artwork but allow them to ask for what materials they want in making it. If they want to make the sky look more profound, Mitra, the art therapist, can make suggestions. The direction these adults want to take is ultimately up to them. We want to provide them with a studio space where they can make decisions. Adults can also benefit from Open Studio because it provides a social community. The adults look forward to seeing each other, sharing new sketches, and interacting with one another.

ABS: Can you describe the process of collaborating with teaching artists and/or art therapists in developing new programs/How do you go about developing a program together to successfully help those with autism?

ML: We collaborate and develop a program by teaching art therapists how to incorporate more entry points into their lessons. For instance, just talking to the kids won’t suffice because children of the autism spectrum are usually visual learners. At the same time, some of them are not entirely visual – some need to take action and do. So throughout the process of developing a program, we make it clear that the communication to the kids needs to be clear, which includes giving participants space and/or more time. We enjoy adapting to the different personalities and teaching styles of art therapists and teaching artists, but we also make sure to let them know to pace each lesson.

Report on Technology Use in Cultural Heritage

eCultValue has published a Summary Report of Interviews with Cultural Heritage stakeholders and technology providers in Europe

 The main aim of the eCultValue project is to encourage the use of new technologies that have the potential to revolutionise the way we are dealing with and accessing Cultural Heritage (CH) in Europe. For doing this, it is important to capture the points of view and the needs of the stakeholders working in Cultural Heritage institutions, in relation to the use of ICT. In the context of the “Interview Summary Report”, the eCultValue partners have, therefore, performed a number of interviews with CH stakeholders and technology providers from several European countries. Some of the main outcomes of this activity are presented in this report.

Anastasia Kalou on the European Blind Union’s “Access to Culture” project (repost)

European Blind Union survey of access to culture

Repost from http://www.accesstourismnz.org.nz, where it was posted by Dr. Sandra Rhodda, on July 17, 2013.


Listen with webReader

Guest blog by Anastasia Kalou, an access consultant and advisory panel member at the European Blind Union’s ATC project.

Symbol of a person walking with a cane

The European Blind Union (EBU) is the united voice of blind and partially sighted people in Europe, protecting their rights and promoting their interests for full participation in social, economic, political and cultural life, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability (UNCRPD), and the the Council of Europe Action Plan (2006-2015) on “Full Participation of People with Disabilities in Society”.  Recently, EBU conducted a small scale pilot survey regarding access at cultural venues and activities for the Blind and partially–sighted people in Europe.  Access to Culture (ATC) Project 2011-2012 aimed to describe

  • current levels of access
  • good practice
  • national legislation and policies for access to culture
  • barriers and scope for improvement

The survey focused on the accessibility at a range of cultural venues and activities, such as theatres, cinema, opera, dance performances, concerts, museums, galleries, heritage sites, and visitor attractions in six countries.  One survey was sent to EBU national member organisations, and another to cultural organisations known to have developed good practices in accessibility for visually impaired people. Survey results show that:

  • the cultural rights of people with visual disability are poorly implemented
  • many cultural sector funding and project development practices discriminate against people with a disability

The report concludes with a Call for Action for cultural policy and strategy change at European, national and local levels in order to urgently address the over-riding conclusions of the survey.  Findings of the survey will be widely disseminated in Europe and serve as a tool for advocacy and lobbying for change.

Stockholm 3D Printed

A 3D Printed Scale Model of the Entire City of StockholmArticle reposted from 3D Printing Newsletter, by Juho Vesanto On Tue, June 18, 2013.

Mitekgruppen, a Swedish scale-model company, created an almost exact replica of the city of Stockholm using Stratasys Dimension Series FDM 3D printers. Even though scaled down replicas of practically every major landmark — from the Golden Gate bridge to Big Ben — have been created with 3D printing tech before, bringing an entire city to life is quite a unique and remarkable feat: the created model of Stockholm is a full 157 square foot (scale 1:1000) in size. The Stockholm project used two Stratasys printers, running 24/7, seven days a week for six months before they finally fulfilled their remit and were given a vacation from their day & night job of creating the models.

Prior to the Stockholm project, originally commissioned in 2005 by the city, the company had been using only traditional means to create their models – paper, glue and wood combined with the blood, sweat and tears involved in manual, intricate labour. The fundamental reasons for tipping the scale to 3D printing’s side were the continuity and real-world reminiscent features of the commission – the model of the city was to be updated and revamped according to actual changes that take place in the infrastructure and city image every half a year. This meant that putting long hours into wood carving and other phases of the traditional process wasn’t an ideal or relevant approach to be used in this case.

Mitekgruppen 3D Printed Stockholm Coastal Detail Replica Stratasys

Jumping on the 3D printing train from the traditional methodologies wasn’t something that could be done overnight though – the physical, technical and mental factors, as well as changes in general attitude, approach and the operating model required a realistic transition phase. In Mitekgruppen’s case, that period lasted for a full nine months, during which time the project team took a crash course in CAD modelling, 3D printing tech, new SW and other required tools that would enable them to get the job done as efficiently and smoothly as humanly possible.

The effort the team put into learning the ropes of the 3D printing world didn’t go to waste even after finishing the base model of the city – the company currently starts every project with 3D printed models and prototypes, after which their current weapon of choice – a Stratasys Fortus 250mc – is also used to make some of the actual end-products in addition to other manufacturing techniques and technologies such as laser cutting and milling.

Mitekgruppen 3D Printed Stockholm Replica Stratasys

The model of Stockholm is currently not on display anywhere — but it is being prepared to be showcased in a yet undisclosed location (in Sweden of course).

Source: Stratasys blog

Family Friendly Museum Awards (repost from the Telegraph, UK)

Family Friendly Museum Awards: great museums for half-term (repost from www.telegraph.co.uk)

Thousands of readers have nominated museums for our Family Friendly Museum Awards. Here are the best longlisted entries to take your children to at half-term.

Children enjoy the exhibits at the North Lincolnshire Museum, which is running an Egyptian week during half term

A fun way to learn: children enjoy the exhibits at the North Lincolnshire Museum, which is running an Egyptian week during half term  Photo: North Lincolnshire Council.
 By Dea Birkett, 7:00AM BST 24 May 2013

Fossils hidden in sandpits, a Victorian sweet shop and a tank full of frogs. It’s the thrill of the real that visitors were looking for in this year’s entries for the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award.

As we all live in more virtual worlds, museums still offer real experiences with real things. That’s what makes them so special. As one young visitor said of longlisted M Shed museum in Bristol, ‘It’s interesting because it has older things than my Nan.’ But the very best family friendly museums don’t only let us look at their collection, but handle and hold it too. Children are no longer being told off for stroking the stuffed walrus or creaking open the wooden tea chest. Instead they’re being positively encouraged to do so. ‘You can get your hands on absolutely loads of things,’ wrote an 11-year-old about longlisted Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston. ‘There are touch screen games and lots of bags around the museum. In the bags are objects to feel and touch.’ At longlisted Blists Hill Victorian Town in Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, families can be part of former times, with a bank to change modern money into farthings, a chippy serving meals wrapped in newspaper, and the old fashioned New Inn Public House where you can enjoy a pulled pint and sing-along.

From over 140 museums nominated by thousands of readers, the volunteer panel picked the top 20. Here are some of those longlisted museums which offer the very best of hands-on experiences over the half term:

Half-term highlights

North Lincolnshire Museum, 01724 843533 Egyptian Mayhem Week, 28-31 May. Free drop in Egyptian activities, crafts and object handling.

Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Devon, 01404 45006 Bees and Flowers, 30 May. There’s a buzz around this free family drop-in, as live bees in the gallery pose for your pastel or charcoal drawings. The workshop is led by artist Kate Lynch, to coincide with her ‘The Beekeeper and the Bee’ exhibition.

Coalport China Museum, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Shropshire , 01952 435900 Drop in workshop, 27 May. Paint a mug inspired by the floral designs on Coalport China.

National Maritime Museum Cornwall, 01326 313388 Magnificent Marine Biology Supersized Saturday, 1 June, led by marine ecologist Maya Plass from BBC Springwatch. You can even take control of an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) to explore the waters right outside the museum.

Saffron Walden Museum, Essex, Young Super Sleuths, 29-30 May. There’s been a break-in at the museum and one of the mummies is missing. Have you got the Sherlock Holmes-style detective skills required to help museum staff retrieve the stolen mummy? You’ll be told how to crack codes, search for evidence and match fingerprints.

Nottingham Contemporary, 01159 489750 UV Drawing Extravaganza, 1-2 June. Inspired by the gallery’s UV Gallery, use glow sticks, white pens and tape to create glowing patterns and pictures under UV light.

Rural Life Centre, Surrey, 01252 795571 Free Activity Thursday, 30 May. Old fashioned fun for families, including discovering a furnished Prefab, tiny wooden chapel tin hut schoolroom. There’s even a 1950s playground for kids.

Longlist for the Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Awards

Beamish Museum, County Durham 01913 704000

Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, Falkirk, 01506 822298

Brixham Heritage Museum, 01803 856267

The Cardiff Story / Stori Caerdydd, 02920 788334

Compton Verney, Warwickshire, 01926 645500

Geffrye Museum, London, 02077 399893

Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, 01772 258248

Horniman Museum and Gardens, London, 02086 991872

Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, Shropshire, 01952 435900

M Shed, Bristol, 01173 526600

Museum in the Park, Stroud, 01453 763394

INTECH Science Centre & Planetarium, Winchester, 01962 863791

National Maritime Museum Cornwall, 01326 313388

Nature in Art, Gloucester,, 01452 731422

North Lincolnshire Museum, 01724 843533

Nottingham Contemporary, 01159 489750

Rural Life Centre, Surrey, 01252 795571

Saffron Walden Museum, Essex,

Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Devon, 01404 45006 Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Cumbria, 01228 618718

The Telegraph Family Friendly Museum Award — What Happens Next?

The 20-strong longlist is put before a panel of experts, chaired by Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund. The panel whittles down the longlist to a shortlist of Britain’s most family friendly museums. This shortlist is then road-tested anonymously by families.

Would your family like to help pick the winner?

Then email award@kidsinmuseums.org.uk. Find out more about Kids in Museums and the Award at Kids In Museums

Experiencing Art through Touch (Repost from Metropolitan Museum, New York)

Photographer Interview: Experiencing Art through Touch

Jennette Mullaney, Former Associate Email Marketing Manager, Department of Digital Media

Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013, on www.metmuseum.org

Matt Ducklo | Thutmose III, Dynasty 18, ca. 1504–1405 B.C. | 2006

Matt Ducklo (American, b. 1973). Thutmose III, Dynasty 18, ca. 1504–1405 B.C., Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2006. Chromogenic print; 50 x 40 in. Image courtesy of the artist. Learn more about this statue.

The Metropolitan Museum has a long history of making its collections accessible to blind and partially sighted visitors through touch and description. In the 1970s, the Museum established the Touch Collection, a group of small artworks from different curatorial departments, for the purpose of tactile exploration by blind and partially sighted visitors. Since 1998, these visitors have been invited to engage with a range of Museum objects through touch tours—guided or self-guided visits in which they can explore specific objects with their hands. For several years, photographer Matt Ducklo has captured participants on these tours at the Metropolitan and other museums, creating a body of work that explores how all people—both sighted and otherwise—experience art. I interviewed Matt about his work and how it has affected his own experience of looking at art.

Jennette Mullaney: What attracted you to this subject?

Matt Ducklo: I am interested in seeing and looking, particularly the way in which looking at art can feel like heightened looking. When I visit a gallery or museum, I occasionally have moments that produce some sort of emotional or intellectual response, but a lot of times I just register work with my eyes and move on. With the photographs of touch tours, I am representing the appearance of an interior experience.

Matt Ducklo | Statue of Herakles seated on a rock, Imperial, 1st or 2nd century A.D. Roman; adaptation of a Greek statue of the late 4th or early 3rd century B.C., Metropolitan Museum of Art | 2008

Matt Ducklo (American, b. 1973). Statue of Herakles seated on a rock, Imperial,1st or 2nd century A.D. Roman; adaptation of a Greek statue of the late 4th or early 3rd century B.C., Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008. Chromogenic print; 50 x 40 in. Image courtesy of the artist. Learn more about this statue.

Jennette Mullaney: You photograph not only a work of art and a visitor’s interaction with that work of art, but the very act of experiencing art in a way that is foreign to most of us. How do you capture that experience?

Matt Ducklo: The thing is that I don’t know what the experience is like. I photograph what it looks like, but I guess that the impossibility of knowing is what’s interesting.

Matt Ducklo | Young Girl with Flowers in Her Hair, 1865–70, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens | 2008

Matt Ducklo (American, b. 1973). Young Girl with Flowers in Her Hair, 1865–70, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, 2008. Chromogenic print; 50 x 40 in. Image courtesy of the artist

Jennette Mullaney: Have these projects affected how you observe art when visiting a museum?

Matt Ducklo: I suppose I sometimes pay more attention to the surface of a work now, but it’s not as if every time I look at a work of art I think about what it must feel like. I guess I think more about how I might be misunderstanding the work and probably spend a little more time with each piece.

Matt Ducklo | The Well (Variation on a Tsukubai), 1982, The Noguchi Museum | 2009

Matt Ducklo (American, b. 1973). The Well (Variation on a Tsukubai), 1982, The Noguchi Museum, 2009. Chromogenic print; 50 x 40 in. Image courtesy of the artist

Jennette Mullaney: Would you mind sharing some of the insights you’ve gained working with visually impaired visitors?

Matt Ducklo: Art is important, and many people with visual impairments want as much access to art as possible. Most of the people I have photographed find that experiencing art through touch is meaningful. I do believe that touching can function as something like seeing.

Related Link
Programs for Visitors Who Are Blind or Partially Sighted