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


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