Museums and Communities News
December 2014


Veterans Glassblowing Day at the Corning Museum of Glass.  Image courtesy of The Corning Museum of Glass.

Following is a supersized holiday edition of Museums and Communities News, our monthly roundup of stories demonstrating the myriad ways AAMD member museums serve their communities.  


AAMD museums - we want your stories! If you have a community program you would like to see featured in Museums and Communities news please contact Alison Wade.

Glass Museums Connect with Military

Two AAMD glass museums are using their glass studios as an innovative way to connect with veterans and active military.


On December 3, The Corning Museum of Glass participated in Veterans Glassblowing Day, a national initiative that provides free glassblowing to veterans and active service members. The mission of Veterans Glassblowing Day is "to provide US veterans and those in Active Service with a free opportunity to experience glassblowing with the intentions of developing a marketable skill, building joy through artistic expression, and creating community through a yearly national event."


The Museum of Glass (MOG) in Tacoma, WA, who also participated in Veterans Glassblowing Day, regularly engages with the Tacoma military community through Hot Shop Heroes: Healing with Fire. Developed in partnership with the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Hot Shop Heroes uses glassblowing as therapy for wounded warriors with physical and mental injuries. Read more about how glass museums are working with the military and veterans on AAMD's website.


Hot Shop Heroes at the Museum of Glass.
Photo by Dane Gregory Meyer. Image courtesy of the Museum of Glass


At the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Teens Tour with Police Officers

From the Santa Monica Daily Press: At the Santa Monica Museum of Art, a group of high school students gave local police officers a tour of the exhibition "Citizen Culture: Artists and Architects Shape Policy." "Art Tours: Teens and Officers" provided the students with training on giving tours of the exhibition; for the program, they each discussed two works. "Teens and Officers" was inspired by the work of Suzanne Lacy, whose No Blood/No Foul inspired the tours and is featured in the Citizen Culture show. "We have an ongoing commitment to empowering teens to grow, learn, and engage with society responsibly," said Asuka Hisa, Director of Education and Public Programs at the Museum. "These programs open lines of communication between youth and law enforcement in new and compelling ways." Some participating students came from a government class at Olympic High School; the class' teacher, Anthony Fuller, said the experience was incredibly valuable as a means of providing perspective for his students.  "Neither group are art aficionados so they both went in there with fresh eyes and had a shared experience." 


Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Unveils Sculptures for the Visually Impaired

The Kalamazoo Institute of Arts (KIA) unveiled two sculptures by Michigan artists on Monday, December 1. Designed for the experience of blind and visually impaired patrons, the sculptures were funded by the Michigan Braille Transcribing Fund (MBTF). The KIA Education Department has offered a Touch Art Tour for the blind and visually impaired since 2011, developed with members of the Kalamazoo visually impaired community and experts in the field of education for the visually impaired. More than 150 visitors have participated in this program in the last three years. "This grant has allowed us to increase our sculptural offerings and develop new ways for blind and low vision visitors to interact with art objects," said KIA Curator of Education Michelle Stempien. More information is available on the KIA website.


Photo of Kalamazoo Institute of Arts Touch Art Tour by Katie Houston, 
courtesy of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.


Special Section 

Arts and Aging at AAMD Museums

Over 80 AAMD members offer special programs for those suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia. Here we spotlight three of those programs: 

At the Clark Art Institute, A New Program for Dementia Sufferers

From The Clark Art Institute is offering a new program for dementia sufferers and their caregivers. Meet Me At The Clark is offered monthly and provides guided tours for about a dozen people on days when the galleries are closed to the public. The group will spend about an hour enjoying and discussing four or five paintings and enjoying their shared experience. "It's a very open-ended conversation based on ideas that come from the art itself," says Ronna Tulgan Ostheimer, director of adult, school, and community programs at the Clark. "Very often people who have dementia have memories that are much more intact than their cognitive functioning might suggest. One of the roads to these memories or to opening up the memories for discussion are the senses...So images can conjure up smells, sounds, emotional feelings and very often those trigger some very rich and interesting conversations that family members haven't had together in a long time." More information is available on the Clark's website.



Art and Wellness: Creative Aging at The Phillips Collection

This fall, The Phillips Collection highlighted their ongoing partnership with Iona Senior Services in the exhibition Art and Wellness: Creative Aging. The exhibition, which closed on December 7, featured over 60 artworks from The Phillips Collection's ongoing collaboration with Iona, a nonprofit organization that provides services for the DC metropolitan area's older adults, along with their families and caregivers. The Phillips and Iona program encourages individuals with memory impairment and physical challenges, and their caregivers, to connect with each other through conversations in the Phillips galleries.  Dr. Jane Chu, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, recently visited The Phillips to learn more about the museum's partnership with Iona. The Phillips Collection's website has more information and a video featuring several program participants. 


Oklahoma City Museum of Art's Making Memories Program Goes Free

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art recently announced that admission to the Making Memories program is now free, thanks to funding from Allied Arts' power2give campaign. Making Memroies is a bi-monthly program for seniors with Alzheimer's disease or dementia and their caregivers, presented in cooperation with the Oklahoma Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. After a tour of the museum ed by an educator, participants enjoy refreshments, reflection and an art project in the museum's classrooms. Making Memories is part of OKCMOA's Healing Arts program, which provides art therapy to patients undergoing long-term treatment for a variety of illnesses. More information is available at the museum's website.



inStill students at the Clyfford Still Museum are coached to facilitate their own discussions about the work on view.  Photo credit: Jensen Sutta


Free Thinking: Clyfford Still Museum Tests New Model for School Visits

This fall, the Clyfford Still Museum began its first full year of inStill Gallery Experiences for Schools. The program served roughly 2,000 students in four months last spring, reaching classrooms in grades 4-12 from social studies and art to writing and special projects. inStill visits are free for all schools wishing to participate, with bus funds available for those that qualify. A research-based program, inStill is the result of a collaborative initiative with the Denver school community. This initiative included teacher workshops and student visits in which students participated as creators and collaborators to inform program design. 


Departing from standard museum tours, inStill transforms the galleries into a classroom that combines standards-aligned lessons with the best of museum education techniques in a "workshop model" lesson.


The Museum is currently continuing its research and evaluation initiative, examining both the effectiveness of workshop model in a museum setting, and how a student-centered approach supports fostering enduring understandings and 21st century skills. For more on inStill, visit,



Hammer Museum announces public engagement partnership with Art + Practice

The Hammer Museum at UCLA has announced a new public engagement partnership with Art + Practice, an art and social service nonprofit founded by an artist, a collector, and a social activist. A+P's home of Leimert Park has long been considered a center for African American arts, and the neighborhood continued to foster a thriving cultural community for artists, musicians, performers and residents alike. Art + Practice's Leimart Park campus serves as both an art exhibition space and a facility that serves transitional age foster youth in classrooms, a computer lab and offices for mental health services. Through this partnership the Hammer will provide exhibitions and public programs at A+P. "It's a model for how institutions - and artists - can reach out, embrace and become meaningful to an audience outside of their usual spheres," said Hammer director Ann Philbin. More information is available on the Hammer website and blog.


Family Day at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art

Though the Westmoreland Museum of American Art is currently closed for a renovation and expansion, the Museum continues to serve their public through family days at their temporary location, Westmoreland @rt 30.  Visitors made their own art, participated in a scavenger hunt, and saw a performance by Stage Right!. View some pictures - including some pint-sized artists creating masterpieces of their own - on the Westmoreland Facebook page.


New Museum Drive Offers Free Admission to Coat Donors

For the second year the New Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting a winter coat drive in support of their neighbors the Bowery Mission, which provides food, shelter, medical services and employment assistance to homeless men. The Museum is offering a free admission ticket to anyone who brings a new or gently used men's coat to the museum through March 1. Large and extra large coats are especially needed. Full details are available on the New Museum admissions website.