Museums and Communities News
April 2015


88 sailors from the USS Abraham Lincoln tour the Chrysler Museum of Art on the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln's Death. Full story below.
Photo: Gary Marshall, Chrysler Museum of Art

Museums and Communities News is 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.

Close Encounters at the Baltimore Museum of Art

Close Encounters is the Baltimore Museum of Art's free multiple-visit program for fourth-graders in Baltimore City Public Schools. Begun in 1982, Close Encounters enhances visual literacy using works of art in the Museum's collection. As of February 2015, more than 28,000 students have participated in the program.

Through direct observation, dialogue, writing, and studio work, Close Encounters supports Baltimore City Public Schools' Visual Art curriculum for fourth graders. Each program consists of five sessions. Museum educators visit the classroom, and then students come to the Museum three times for tours. On the fourth visit to the Museum, students take part in an art-making project led by a teaching artist. In addition to sketchbooks/journals used on tours, students receive backpacks with colored pencils, watercolors, and clay to make art at home.

Hear first-hand from some Close Encounters participants in the video below.



Close Encounters at the Baltimore Museum of Art
Close Encounters at the Baltimore Museum of Art


Touch Tours at the Muscarelle Museum of Art

The Muscarelle Museum of Art at the College of William & Mary was able to offer tactile tours of a recent exhibition of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo thanks to the work of museum docent Shirley Confino-Rehder. Below, Shirley describes how she created the program that expands access and creates a new audience for the Muscarelle:


"As a docent at the Muscarelle I was able to create a tactile tour of [

Leonardo da Vinci and the Idea of Beauty].  Using an easy copying technique, I copied ten of the thirty drawings of the exhibit from slides that were sent to the docents via email. I then sent the copies to Tactile Vision Graphics in Ottawa who does thermal tactile printing. Using research I usually do for my tours, I was able to successfully give tours to adults and high school students who are blind or have low vision.

Each student had never been in an art museum before. Some of the older visitors had traveled, some had not. The new visitors were all thrilled, learned about the two artists, the drawings that were on exhibit and the techniques that were used.

The visitors that were in the galleries, stopped, listened and understood what we were doing and learned something new as well.

This not only addresses the ADA Title III, for effective communications in museum programs, it also creates a new audience."







Left: a tactile rendition of Leonardo da Vinci's Study for the Christ Child Blessing, c. 1510. 

Right: Students using tactile renditions at the Muscarelle Museum of Art. 

Images courtesy of the Muscarelle Museum of Art. 


Denver Art Museum Goes Free for Kids

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) has announced that it will offer free general admission to all youth ages 18 and under for the next five years, thanks to a five-year gift from Scott Reiman and the Reiman Foundation. A one-year grant from Kaiser Permanente Colorado also will support the Free for Kids program. The Free for Kids program began March 25, and will continue through spring 2020, with the goal of securing ongoing support for the program.

Free for Kids at the Denver Art Museum will fund general admission to all children, including school tours and other youth group visits. This incredible access opportunity also will seed a new transportation fund, providing bus funding assistance for Title I schools. Free for Kids funded admission gifts also enable the museum to cap youth pricing for all special ticketed exhibitions at $5 for the next five years. 


"From museums and libraries to pools and rec centers, Denver is giving our kids the keys to the city so they can have healthy options to explore and learn," said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock on the occaision of the DAM's announcement. "[Free for Kids] is a phenomenal step toward the shared goal of opening new doors for every child."  More information about Free for Kids is available at DAM's website.


Community Programs at 
Art Museum Day

On or around May 18, many AAMD museums will offer free admission, special programs, and discounts in celebration of Art Museum Day.

Art Museum Day is a great opportunity to celebrate your community programs! For example the Birmingham Museum of Art has partnered with Disability Rights and Resources to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act with a series of access programs. 

Arts Integration with The Phillips Collection's Prism.K12

The Phillips Collection has unveiled Prism.K12, a new education initiative that connects the 21st-century museum to K-12 education by focusing on the integration of the visual arts with core subject areas. Prism.K12 grew out of the museum's award-winning work in the field of K-12 teaching and learning, and includes multimedia teaching kits, national educator initiatives, and comprehensive local school partnerships. The Phillips developed Prism.K12 in response to what it saw as a national need for easily-accessible, low-risk arts integration strategies in the classroom.

The Washington Post's KidsPost recently looked at how a seventh-grade class used the Prism.K12 to create their own three-part art presentations to make lanterns, using paint, photography and sculpture, inspired by the Phillips Collection's exhibition Man Ray - Human Equations. Learn more at the Prism.K12 website and in AAMD's Next Practices in Art Museum Education.


Sailors tour the Chrysler Museum of Art. 
Photo by Gary Marshall, Chrysler Museum of Art.

USS Abraham Lincoln tours the Chrysler Museum of Art
On April 15th, the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's death, 88 Sailors from the Navy Aircraft Carrier USS Abraham Lincoln toured the Chrysler Museum of Art's exhibition on Lincoln and photography. The group spent about two hours studying the images of their ship's namesake and enjoyed a walking lecture with Alex Mann, the museum's Brock Curator of American Art. More information about Shooting Lincoln: Photography and the Sixteenth President is available on the Chrysler Museum of Art website.


Dallas Museum of Art Hosts Naturalization Ceremony

On April 6, the Dallas Museum of Art hosted their third annual Naturalization Ceremony, welcoming 50 new American citizens from 22 countries. "The DMA has a global encyclopedic art collection, it`s a way for us to welcome them in a place where they should feel at home," DMA director Max Anderson saidOne of the new citizens, Asheber Shoamanal, has worked at the DMA for 17 years. The Dallas Morning News video of the ceremony is below; read more at Newsfix CW33 and the DMA's Uncrated blog



New U.S. citizens sworn in at naturalization ceremony
New U.S. citizens sworn in at 
DMA Naturalization Ceremony


MoMA Access Programs Serve Visitors with Disabilities

The Associated Press recently highlighted the Museum of Modern Art's extensive access programs, including Create Ability for visitors with learning and developmental disabilities. The specific needs of visitors are always taken into account when planning access programs - for example, visitors with memory loss or autism prefer to avoid crowded galleries. Conversely, eavesdropping on other museum attendees' discussions of artworks can be an important part of visiting the museum for the visually impaired. "When you make accommodations for people with disabilities, you're better serving everyone." said Francesca Rosenberg, MoMA's director of community and access programs. Learn more about MoMA's access programs here. 


Museums and Communities at AAM Atlanta

The American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting commences this coming Sunday, April 26 in Atlanta! AAMD museum directors, educators and staff are presenting on a variety of subjects of interest to readers of Museums and Communities News:

  • Connecting Community: Conversations in the Art Museum, Sunday, April 26, 2pm features on dialogue-centric education and community programs in AAMD museums. Featuring Kristen Greenwood, Interim Curator of Education, Birmingham Museum of Art; Adera Causey, Curator of Education, Hunter Museum of American Art; Stephanie Plunkett, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Norman Rockwell Museum; moderated by Alison Wade, Chief Administrator, AAMD.
  • Museums Re-Imagining the American City, Sunday April 26, 3;30pm Join leaders of three pioneering urban museums in a discussion about redefining the connection between museums and communities. Visions of museums as centers of civic discourse have altered this relationship, while modern technology creates new avenues for access and audience reach. Featuring AAMD Education and Community Issues Commitee Chair and Oakland Museum of California Director Lori Fogarty; moderated by National Endowment for the Humanities Chair William "Bro" Adams
  • General Session, Monday April 27, 10am featuring Dr Johnnetta Betsch Cole, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and Vice President of AAMD. 
  • How I Make the Case and Measure the Impact of my Museum, Tuesday April 28, 10:45am AAMD Public Affairs Committee Chair and Frist Center for the Visual Arts Director Susan Edwards will discuss how she uses AAMD's mapping program to advocate for her museum's social, educational and community/statewide impact. Hear how she uses this map in practically every kind of conversation - with funders, with the school district, with Congress, and with her own board of trustees - to make the case for her museum. (AAMD Museums, contact Andy Finch to get mapped!)
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