Art Beyond Sight

There are more than a few acronyms in the museum world! NEMA, NAOM, AAM, VTS, TFM, FAM, IMLS – my weeks have been full of them! But, it’s not every day that you get to participate in an NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) funded research and development project! This past week, myself and nine other CGP students were lucky enough to be members of a focus group facilitated by ABS  i.e. Art Beyond Sight, who are piloting a Disability and Inclusion Curricula for graduate programs across the country. Art Beyond Sight was founded over 25 years ago as Art Education for the Blind and develops methods and materials for making art and visual culture accessible to children and adults who are blind or visually impaired. They are currently working with students, alumni, and faculty at five museum studies training programs and gathering data pertaining to what topics and skills we would want from a curricula that focused on disabilities.

How can museums make art more accessible to people with visual impairments? Artwork: Art Institute of Chicago

My excitement surrounding this process was twofold. Firstly, getting a say in a ground-breaking new method of how we teach about inclusion and disability to museum professionals is pretty amazing. Secondly, I knew that participating in my first focus group would only further my interest in evaluation methods. Independent evaluator, Lois H. Silverman was overseeing the research process and moderated our discussion. Her story is a neat one – she is an museum educator, evaluator, researcher, and author of Museums and Social Work. She always felt like she was missing something from her education so she went back to school later in life to get her degree in social work, and now focuses her work on how to link museums to social service organizations through innovative programming aimed for the public good. I have to admit that there’s a part of me that wants to BE her!

The work I do at CGP inspires me to dream big and think outside of the box. Photo taken by Annie Stewart at the Pocantico Center

After we talked about universal design, internships surround disability needs in museums, and multi-modal learning, my mind was on overload. Museums have strategic plans, why can’t I have a strategic plan for my museum career? So, I’m starting a list of career goals in the hopes that writing them down will inspire me to continue to pursue things that fulfill me and let me share my passions with others.

  • Create a diversity internship program, similar to the work being done at the Minnesota Historical Society
  • Write a book
  • Turn my graduate thesis into my PhD dissertation
  • Teach museum studies at the collegiate level
  • Have a really cool title – Director of Community Engagement, anyone?!
  • Present at a regional or national conference
  • Master both qualitative and quantitative evaluation techniques (SPSS to start)
  • Learn the Spanish language
  • Do something every day that challenges me professionally

That’s a start at least! What goals do you have as a student, emerging or current museum professional?

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About catebay

Informal educator working in the world of art. Interests in public programming and community advocacy. Loves learning about people, collecting blue mason jars, and consuming Swedish fish.
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