Museums and Communities News
January/February 2015


Blanket Stories: Transportation Object, Generous Ones, Trek by Marie Watt, at the Tacoma Art Museum. Community members contributed highly personal blankets - from baby blankets to handmade quilts that served as wedding gifts - for the sculpture, which Watt transformed into a bronze sculpture outside the building. The museum also collected blankets for Tacoma's Rescue Mission as part of Watt's piece.

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.

Visually Impaired Veterans Get Creative at Oklahoma City Museum of Art

From The Oklahoman: The Oklahoma City Museum of Art has partnered with NewView Oklahoma, a nonprofit that serves people suffering from vision loss, to provide art programs for the visually impaired. A recent program for veterans with vision loss included a tour of the exhibition "My Generation: Young Chinese Artists" followed by a painting class.


"For me, it's nice to still be able to be creative, because taking a big hit on vision, the first thing is you're scared. You're scared to death," said U.S. Air Force veteran Steve Evans of his experience at OKCMOA.  "You don't know what you can do, what you can't do. So getting out and discovering that you can still do things, you can still be creative, you can still do some of the things that you've done ... it builds your confidence back to know you can get back out and do some of this."


The program, called Creative Visions, is part of an ongoing and continually expanding partnership between NewView and the museum, which also includes incorporating visual descriptive tours into NewView's summer camps for blind or vision impaired children. "We're a museum for everyone. It's that simple," said OKCMOA Assistant Curator of Education Bryon Chambers  "The cool thing for me is hearing someone say, 'I never thought I would be welcome at a museum.'" More stories of the veterans that participated in this program, as well as video and pictures, are available at The Oklahoman website.


Community Blankets Become Sculpture at the Tacoma Art Museum

Blanket Stories: Transportation Object, Generous Ones, Trek was recently installed along Pacific Avenue at Tacoma Art Museum to mark the November 15, 2014 grand opening of the museum's new Haub Family Galleries. Artist Marie Watt and TAM collected more than 350 blankets from the community to create the sculpture. Two tall, curving stacks of blankets were transformed into a bronze sculpture at Washington's Walla Walla Foundry and finished in a blue patina referencing water and sky. 


The museum also collected blankets for Tacoma's Rescue Mission, carrying forward Watt's concept of blankets as humble objects of comfort and significance. The title's phrase "generous ones" refers to Tacoma's first residents, the Puyallup people, and acknowledges the generosity of the Puyallup to all who visit. Along with each blanket a story tag was collected; the stories have been compiled on a website featuring photos of the blankets. More about Blanket Stories is available at AAMD's website.


Yale Center for British Art's Visual Literacy Documentary

The Yale Center for British Art has released a new documentary about its unique Visual Literacy program in the Connecticut public schools. Visual Literacy: Rethinking the Role of Art in Education takes viewers into a creative program that teaches students skills inthinking, communicating, and writing, by using paintings, drawings, and sculpturesas educational tools. The thirty-minute film follows students, teachers, coaches, and museum staff over the course of a school year as they work together to make literacy instruction come alive.


YCBA developed the Visual Literacy program through ten years of outreach, observation, and research with Connecticut public schools. In the program, students use works of art in the Center's collection as visual prompts to describe their thoughts, translating ideas into written words.


According to the film's producer, YBCA Associate Curator of Education Cyra Levenson, the film is an advocacy tool that demonstrates the powerful role museums can play in supporting teachers and students. Through interviews with students, teachers, and medical professionals, the film shows how, through deep engagement with works of art, students can develop writing skills and their personal voices to communicate ideas and experiences.


You can view a trailer of the film here. The trailer was screened at Museums Advocacy Day and the full film will screen at the National Art Education Association conference in New Orleans at the end of March. 


For Visitors with Memory Loss, Museum Moments at the Michael C. Carlos 

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University has offered the Museum Moments program for people suffering from memory loss due to Alzheimer's or other cognitive impairments. Patterned after the successful Meet Me at MoMA program by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, participants and their caregivers take part in a free tour with trained docent, giving them an art gallery experience in a controlled environment. The tour has a slow pace and a limited scope so as not to overwhelm participants; it's also designed to spark conversation - and even memories. "We've had spouses who've been married for half a century say they've never heard them talk about that before," according to  Julie Green, senior manager of school programs at Emory University's Michael C. Carlos Museum.



Meet the Birmingham Museum of Art's New Miles College Intern

From The Birmingham Times: The Birmingham Museum of Art recently announced Miles College senior  Lindsay George as the recipient of the Thomas N. Carruthers, Jr.- Miles College Internship. The Carruthers, a paid internship awarded to a Miles College student every spring, provides a semester-long exposure to many career paths available within art museums, including public relations, marketing, development, education, event planning, and curatorial departments.

"The Association of Art Museum Directors and the United Negro College Fund first conceived this internship as a technique to open the door more fully and intentionally for African American students to engage with the nation's art museums," says Gail Andrews, the Birmingham Museum of Art's R. Hugh Daniel Director. "We are pleased to have Lindsay George as our Carruthers Intern this spring, and we look forward to strengthening relationships with the Miles College students, faculty, and staff."


As the Carruthers Intern, George is responsible for working with Museum staff to organize and market the second annual Miles College Night at the Museum. Information on the first Miles College Night and on AAMD and UNCF's internship program is available on AAMD's website.



Dallas Museum of Art Expands Access Programs

The Dallas Museum of Art has announced the expansion of its access program series. The Museum will now include a new program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to be called All Access Art, and for the first time, offer a DMA Access docent training course, which the first group of docents has successfully completed. 


All Access Art, for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, developed from the DMA's long-running access partnership with the Arc of Dallas advocacy group. It will now provide experiences with art to a wider selection of special needs groups. Participants visit the galleries on a theme-based tour and then return to the Museum's Center for Creative Connections Art Studio to create their own work of art.


The DMA's current access program series includes Autism Awareness Family Celebrations, which currently serves over 900 visitors from North Texas each year, and  Meaningful Moments, designed specifically for individuals with early stage dementia. In 2007, the DMA launched its access series with Art Beyond Sight, a program for people with visual impairment.