Posts Tagged 'Access Programs'

Beachy Keen

Today is Grandparent’s Day, a day for everyone to recognize the strength, wisdom, and guidance older people can offer. At the DMA, we take every opportunity to celebrate our seniors and learn from their experiences.

During a recent Meaningful Moments program, participants Mel and Barbara shared their lifelong love of seashells with the rest of the group. Mel and Barbara have been collecting seashells for more than 40 years and brought some of their own specimens to the Museum to help us explore seashells in works of art.

Participants shared their memories of trips to the beach and enjoyed some hands-on time with Mel and Barbara’s seashell collection. Mel even surprised us when he blew his conch shell like a horn, filling the gallery with the sound of a bellowing trumpet. According to Mel and Barbara, this type of natural instrument has been used since Neolithic times!

As participants continue their lifelong learning at the Museum, we are so fortunate to share in their vast knowledge and rich experiences.

Emily Wiskera is Manager of Access Programs at the DMA.

Breaking Down Barriers

It may or may not surprise you to hear that one in five adults in the United States self-identifies as having a disability. At the DMA, we believe that limitations reside not in individuals, but in systematic barriers to participation, and that accessibility is a shared responsibility across the Museum. Collaboration between departments helps the DMA remove barriers to participation and continually broaden our definition of access.

One of the ways we approach accessibility is through individualized experiences for specific needs. But we also learned from visitors that they’d like the means to explore the Museum and its collection through unstructured, anytime activities and resources.

This month we are pleased to unveil the result of the most recent collaboration between our Education and Design departments: large-print booklets in the Center for Creative Connections Gallery.

When designing for the low-vision community, the proper treatment and application of design elements can significantly enhance readability. Simply enlarging standard-print documents does not result in effective large-print material. The font selection, size, and line spacing are just a few components that must be carefully selected and treated.

Sans serif geometric fonts such as Helvetica, Futura, and Gotham Rounded are ideal for large-print documents. Limiting the number of characters per line, creating a high visual color contrast between the background and text, and aligning to the left are further design decisions that help the low-vision community easily consume printed information.

While visitors with vision impairment were at the forefront of our mind during the design process, these design elements can help remove barriers for visitors with dyslexia and those who are English language learners as well.

We are excited to add these large-print booklets to our repertoire of accessible materials for visitors. Some of our previous projects include visual descriptions and sensory activities at the Pop-Up Art Spot. Creating opportunities and programs for visitors with vision impairments has long been an important facet of the DMA’s program offerings with Art Beyond Sight Awareness month in October and our summer touch tour for DISD students with visual impairments.

While many exciting accessibility projects are underway at the Museum, there is still much work to be done. As we evaluate and test the new large-print label format, we will seek to expand the booklets to other exhibition galleries in the future. We hope the introduction of the large-print label booklets will be a next step in exploring what we can do to better serve our audiences and expand accessibility throughout the Museum.

Emily Wiskera is the Manager of Access Programs and Jaclyn Le is the Exhibitions Graphic Designer at the DMA.

Friday Photos: Fresh Prints

For our August Meaningful Moments program, participants explored the history of printmaking in the exhibition Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art. After enjoying the galleries, we returned to the studio to try our own hand at block printing on tea towels.

Be sure to catch Visions of America before it closes September 3rd!

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

Friday Photos: To Denver We Go!

Each of the McDermott Interns here at the DMA have the opportunity to participate in an approved professional development opportunity. In early February, I took a trip up to Denver to learn from their Education staff and observe some of their Access Programs. I also connected with Access Gallery, a smaller local nonprofit. I had never been to Colorado and was blown away by both the geographical beauty and the warm welcome I received from each of the museum and art professionals with whom I was able to speak.

On my first full day, I met up with three different members of the Education Department at the Denver Art Museum, then observed their Art and About Tour, which is similar to the Dallas Museum of Art’s Meaningful Moments program that serves individuals with early stage dementia and their family members or caregivers. On this tour, we went to the Japanese art galleries and learned about Japanese tea ceremonies and Samurai.

Here are some photo highlights from my trip!

On day two, I met with the Director of the Access Gallery, who gave me a tour of their space and of their current gallery show, Stick’em Up Chuck, a show of artwork made out of donated stickers.

Take a peek at some of the students’ artworks, their work space, and one of the pieces hanging in Stick’em up Chuck!

The Access Gallery is a drop-in style art-making space where teens and young adults can learn about art, develop their skills, and gain economic opportunity. The students all have a chance to sell their individual art pieces in the gallery’s store, as well as contribute to the larger pieces that are on sale as part of the current gallery show. Through these opportunities, mentally or physically disabled students who may not be able to hold a traditional job gain access to valuable skills like teamwork, time management, and listening to a boss.

As a growing museum professional, this trip was truly enlightening and I’m so grateful to have gotten to experience the incredible programming going on in Denver!

Until next time!

Grace Diepenbrock
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

Let’s Dance

We’ve been lucky over the past year to partner with Dance for PD® on a collaborative program offered each month here at the DMA in which members of the local Dance for PD/Movement Disorders class have been immersed in gallery discussions, interactive dance, and movement. To facilitate the program, DMA educators team up with Misty Owens, a Dance for PD® founding teacher at the Mark Morris Dance Group, who has been teaching the specialized classes since 2003 in Brooklyn, New York, and locally throughout the Dallas Metroplex since 2011.

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Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder that affects up to one million people in the United States. Someone with the disease may have tremors, slowed movement, rigid muscles, and impaired posture and balance. While there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, one of the most important recommendations is to stay active, focusing on balance and flexibility. Dance for PD® engages the participants’ minds and bodies, and creates an enjoyable social environment that emphasizes dancing rather than therapy. Owens’ expertise in dance allows for active demonstration to inspire participants to recapture grace, while guided improvisation inspired by works of art in the collection fosters creativity and experimentation with movement. Participants not only have the chance to learn and talk about art, but to move their bodies and dance in the galleries!

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Pat Goukler, one of the Dallas dancers, said of her experience, “I don’t have PD, but my husband does, so I do this with him. I’ve seen him develop a creativity that I hadn’t seen in 48 years of marriage. He looks at a piece of art and interprets it with his body. It is phenomenal; he has developed rhythm. It has been a joy to watch him experience a new way of expressing himself through art.”

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Another member of the class said the Dance for PD program at the DMA “gave us all a new lease on life WITHOUT Parkinson’s. Yes, that’s possible!” Another stated that the experience “made my body feel so free. There were moments (quite a few, actually) when my body and mind felt so graceful and calm. The beauty of art and movement go together so well—I was surrounded by a joyous feeling!”

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The opportunity to collaborate with Owens has allowed the DMA to engage with people from the Parkinson’s disease community in a way that we’ve never done before. The participants in the program are already focusing on movement, flexibility, and balance, which are essential to those with Parkinson’s disease, but having the class in the DMA galleries enables them to connect their dancing to visual works of art, providing them another avenue of inspiration—a meaningful experience for all involved!

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Amanda Blake is Interim Director of Education and the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA.

Friday Photos: Playing Dress Up

On October 1, the Center for Creative Connections opened early for our last Autism Awareness Family Celebration of the year. We had a Funky Fashion Station in the Studio where we made wearable art; an activity exploring the outdoors in Fleischner Courtyard; and a relaxing sensory room in the Tech Lab. We also had fun connecting with works of art using props and costumes in the galleries, and enjoyed an interactive musical performance in C3 Theater. Arturo joined in, warmly greeting all the families that came to celebrate. It was amazing to see the joy not only on the children’s faces but on the parents’ as well.

Be sure to check out the 2017 Autism Awareness Family Celebration dates, and then sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss out!

Marta Torres
McDermott Graduate Intern for Visitor Engagement

Friday Photos: Strike a Pose with Penn

This month, we’ve been exploring the new exhibition Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty during our Access Programs. In the galleries, we took an up-close look at the extensive work of one of America’s most famous photographers. Back in the studio, we put ourselves in the place of Penn’s fashion models to create our own magazine covers. Take a look at what developed!

Emily Wiskera
McDermott Intern for Family and Access Teaching

Friday Photos: Dress Like an Egyptian

Ask any member of our Education Department: we love our props, and we LOVE dress-up! Luckily for us, our visitors do, too! No matter the age or the stage, we all have a blast getting into the spirit (and outfits) of our art.

Just this week, our Meaningful Moments group, led by our wonderful McDermott Intern Emily, got funky with the pharaohs in some hip headwear. Take a look!

Did you catch Pharaoh Alan putting bunny ears on Pharaoh Emily?

Jennifer Sheppard
Teaching Specialist

Danielle’s Superlatives

Today we are saying goodbye to a dear colleague and friend. Danielle Schulz joined the Education department three years ago and has charmed us all with her wit, dedication to excellent teaching, and bubbly personality. She is moving on to a new position at the Denver Art Museum, so we want to send her off with happy memories of all that she has accomplished here. And since she has spent the majority of her time in one classroom or another, we thought it only fitting to say goodbye with the best kind of school farewell we know–the yearbook Most Likely Awards.

Danielle’s Superlatives

MM Care Facility

Most Likely to Put the Able in Abilities

From using pool noodles with participants in wheelchairs to mimic movements in paintings, to cross-stitching astrological signs with visitors with Alzheimer’s disease, Danielle always went above and beyond to find an extraordinary way to connect to those with special needs. Danielle has a gift for listening and relating to visitors of all abilities and uses her talent to figure out how best to teach about artworks.

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Most Likely to Outsmart Little Rascals

While teaching an outreach lesson at a local school for the Go van Gogh program, Danielle led a discussion with elementary students about the different materials artists use to create art. With a little boy sense of humor, one student offered up “poop” as a suggestion, to which Danielle deftly replied, “Some artists do use refuse to create art” without missing a beat!

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Most Unusual Amazon Shopping Cart

As the lead staff for coordinating the daily come-and-go for our busy summer art camps, Danielle supervised summer interns, set up studios for teachers, emailed parents, made parking arrangements, and all kinds of less-than-glamorous tasks that make summer camps smooth sailing. And oh the supplies–no matter what crazy material a teacher throws at her, Danielle can find it. Hundreds of plastic bags? Check. Toy motors? No problem. Lamp shades? Done. If you judge her by her Amazon shopping cart, you’ll know that this is one crazy, creative, out-of-the-box-thinking girl.

Art Babies

Most Likely to Go the Extra Mile

Danielle is a phenomenal teacher, whether she’s performing for a group of babies, leading a group of high school students through the galleries, or having a conversation with a senior group from a care facility. She always goes the extra mile, searching for ways to really connect with visitors, considering their needs, and adding in her trademark sense of humor. I’ve seen her perform the role of “Dragon King” for Art Babies class, wear a taco costume for a Late Night superhero tour, and bring in a treasured quilt from home for an access program–all in the name of helping visitors enjoy their experiences with art.

D Acting

Most Likely to Make an Award-Worthy Cameo in a Whimsical Grant Video

Did we mention she acts? Several years ago, Go van Gogh went for a BIG opportunity that required us to make a short video selling our wonderful outreach program. Knowing that we needed to reeeally stand out to compete, we worked the whimsical angle, and Danielle spent an afternoon excitedly jumping out from behind artworks on camera. I don’t know how many times she jumped out from behind Nandi the Bull in our South East Asian galleries, but I do know by the time we were ready to submit our video, we had a fantastic (and definitely whimsical) representation of our program. The video went on to earn us $10,000. Without Danielle’s acting skills, teaching prowess, and overall great ideas and energy, we wouldn’t have had a shot. Someone get this woman an agent!

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Most Likely to Soar as High as the Stars

Danielle’s passion for teaching with works of art and her love of people will propel her as high as her dreams will fly, and we wish her the best of luck at the Denver Art Museum.

We are going to miss Danielle more than we can say, but are so excited for the new adventure that awaits her in the Colorado mountains.

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs

FAST Times at the DMA

With each new exhibition at the Museum comes a jolt of excitement for our FAST (Family, Access, School, and Teaching programs at the DMA) team. Education programs at the DMA involve both the permanent collection and any special exhibitions, and a new exhibition means opportunities for exciting new lessons. Though our programming won’t focus on the newly opened exhibition Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes until the fall, we can’t help but brainstorm some experiences we might create around the fantastic content inside. Here’s a look at some of the ideas we’ve got flying between our ears:

Family Programs
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For our littlest learners, from babies to our homeschool kids, we often begin our gallery portion of the program with story time connected to the lesson’s theme. To get thinking about camelids and their importance in Inca life, we’re eyeing one of Anna Dewdney’s Llama Llama books and will then explore objects like the llama-form vessel or llama-head whistle. The focus of the lesson could also be one of the exhibition’s remarkable tunics. We would follow the journey of camelid fibers, which we have on hand for tactile exploration, from their origins on a llama to their ultimate use, being woven into a wonderful piece of clothing. Our youngest visitors will then try their hand at a weaving project in the Museum’s Art Studio.

Access Programs
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For visitors with special needs, our class might focus on jobs in Inca society. Through an object like the tunic with checkerboard pattern and stepped yoke, we can connect the idea of the Inca soldiers who wore the tunic and the weaving specialists who made it to what we know of modern occupations or memories of jobs our participants had in the past. Different art projects would be appropriate for the two groups: with our visitors with intellectual and developmental disabilities, we might choose our Inca dream job and make wearable tunics for it using materials in the Museum’s Art Studio, and for participants with Alzheimer’s, we might take our time with a weaving project. We like to have a hands-on experience all participants can enjoy.

Go van Gogh
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Our Go van Gogh community outreach program involves a staff member and volunteers leading programs in classrooms throughout DISD. For an Inca-based program, we would pick 3–4 works to explore around a theme such as “what we wear,” which could include items like the sleeved tunic, poncho with central medallion and double-headed-birds, or four-cornered hat. For a related art project, the students may design their own tunics using some of the geometric patterns or animal imagery we discussed. We always have amazing works of creativity come out of our Go van Gogh groups!

School Tours
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Most teachers who sign up for school tours want their students to see as much as possible, so our wonderful docents choose highlights from all over the DMA’s expansive collection. Inca might only be one stop on a tour of five or six destinations in the Museum. Docents typically let the interests of the students lead the discussion: are they drawn to textiles or ceramics, ideas of Inca soldiers or animal imagery? Whichever it is, docents would be sure to show contextual images such as a map of the Tahuantinsuyu empire or an illustration of a ruler wearing a tunic. Though the stop is brief, the goal is to teach the students a little bit about another culture, while whetting their appetite so they return for more!

Make sure you take the opportunity to explore Inca: Conquests of the Andes/Los Incas y las conquistas de los Andes before it closes in November. In the meantime, the FAST team will be counting the days until we can explore the exhibition with our many audiences!

Liz Bola is the McDermott Graduate Education Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching and Jennifer Sheppard is the McDermott Education Intern for Family and Access Teaching at the DMA.


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