Posts Tagged 'Access Programs'

Friday Photos: All Access Art

This February was a milestone for the DMA education team: we celebrated the fifth anniversary of two of the Museum’s most successful access programs: Autism Awareness Family Celebrations, which currently serve over 900 visitors from North Texas each year, and Meaningful Moments, designed specifically for individuals with early stage dementia.

Furthermore, we announced the expansion of our access programs to include All Access Art, a program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Developed from the DMA’s long-running partnership with the Arc of Dallas advocacy group, All Access Art will now provide art-infused experiences to a wider selection of special needs groups in the DFW area, including Special Abilities of North Texas, Connecting Points of Park Cities, and Community Homes for Adults, Inc. (CHAI). During these visits to the Museum, participants explore the galleries on a theme-based tour and then return to the Center for Creative Connections Art Studio to create their own work of art.xc

We are thrilled at the expansion of this program and look forward to sharing more images and stories of our fantastic experiences with All Access Art!

Danielle Schulz
Teaching Specialist

A (Warm) Winter Wonderland: Autism Awareness Family Celebration

This past Saturday, we had the first Autism Awareness Family Celebration of the year. Our theme was snowy weather, which was a fun contradiction to the sunny Texas forecast that we had for the day. Families who attend every Autism Awareness Family Celebration joined first-time families for a fun morning in the Center for Creative Connections making pom-pom snowflake paintings in the studio, relaxing in the TWU sensory room, sketching from works of art in the galleries, and gathering resources from Autism Speaks. Check out all of the DMA’s access programs online at

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

My Meaningful Moments at the DMA

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and Scholl Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program.

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program

There are many reasons I enjoy working with our Access Programs here at the DMA, but one of the big ones is the chance to form relationships—relationships with participants and, in turn, their relationship with works of art in our galleries. The Meaningful Moments program for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partner (usually a spouse or family member) creates opportunities for people to have transformative experiences with works of art and with one another. I feel lucky to be a part of this each month. As I have gotten to know the participants over the years and spent time with them each month, I am reminded of the importance to live in the moment and to cherish each day that we get to spend with our loved ones. The Meaningful Moments program reinforces my belief in love and in the kindness of humanity.

If someone were to pass by our group in the galleries, it would appear as if longtime friends were chatting and reminiscing. In the studio, there is often laughter and joking as participants create and share their artwork. Many of the participants get together outside of the program, for lunches or support groups. I have received gardening tips and holiday cards from individuals in the program, and I have even visited the woodworking shop of a participant to learn how to use a lathe. The group is social and very welcoming to newcomers, but is also a supportive bunch of familiar faces.

Viewing and talking about works of art can unearth past memories, especially those still accessible to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. I have witnessed this many times during Meaningful Moments. From a Native American cradle sparking recollections about vacationing with young children, an exhibition with a beautiful wedding gown triggering detailed stories about participants’ wedding days, impressionist works reminding attendees of a favorite nature spot from their youth, or a print by Andy Warhol generating a lively discussion of life in the 1960s, artwork often serves as a catalyst to connect with the stories from the past and with loved ones in the present. During our gallery conversations, spouses (even those married more than fifty years) occasionally learn new things about their loved one’s past.

Crucial to the Meaningful Moments program, socialization and simulation play a key role and have been proven to help improve mood and behavior, as well as dramatically enhance quality of life. The social interaction and exploration of works in the collection are as gratifying to the spouse or family member as it is to the attendees with Alzheimer’s disease. I have seen care partners lean on one another for support and bond over shared experiences. One woman who used to bring her husband to the program still occasionally attends, even though her husband passed away two years ago. A couple who has attended the program since the beginning even schedules their doctor’s appointments and vacations around the program dates. A wife who brings her husband has told me that she needs the program, as it is a time when she can connect emotionally with him and not think about the disease for the two hours that they are in the Museum.

Since the program began four years ago, two of my favorite people in my life have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I know how heartbreaking it can feel for this disease to affect someone you love, let alone how scary it must feel for the person diagnosed. The Meaningful Moments program is one of the best parts of my job and means so much to me as an educator—it is an honor to be welcomed into the circle of this small group of people and to become part of their experience as they journey through life navigating such a devastating disease.

Getting to know program attendees and seeing how much the couples genuinely and patiently care for one another, I have witnessed true love in action. To watch a husband gingerly fit a headpiece he designed around his wife’s head, to catch couples married fifty years holding hands in front of a Jackson Pollock, to be in the studio immersed in jewelry-making with attendees while listening to Duke Ellington and suddenly looking up to see an impromptu slow dance take place by one of the couples in the program are just a few of the many truly memorable experiences for me, and ones that I will always cherish.

To learn more about the DMA’s Meaningful Moments program, or for information on how to schedule a group from assisted-living facilities specializing in memory care, visit the Museum’s website or e-mail

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

Open Office: Center for Creative Connections

Most people don’t realize how fun having an office on the first floor of the museum can be! The ten of us (plus one intern) in the Center for Creative Connections (C3) office space are especially close, quite literally. We all sit within earshot of each other and are very close to the visitors in C3, which makes it a very lively workplace! Those who live here during the day (and often get locked in because they have stayed too late) are a fabulous group from the DMA’s C3 team; the wonderful ladies from the Family, Access, and School Experiences squad; and the Head of Community Engagement. You can visit Susan, Amanda, Amanda, Leah, Maria Teresa, JC, Danielle, Melissa, Jessica, Amy, and Tyler anytime you want! Just don’t forget which Amanda is which.







Amanda Batson is the C3 program coordinator at the DMA.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and welcome to 2013! With a fresh year comes new resolutions for many people, and whether you are the type to keep your goals for just a week or to strictly adhere to them for an entire year, why not let the DMA help out?

Be healthy! A popular resolution is to be healthy, which may include getting fit by visiting the gym more often or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator. The DMA is agreat place to master stairs. Did you know that the Museum has over 120 stairs?  Or, bring the family to bend and twist during our Yoga for Kids during Late Night at the DMA.

Climb up and down the stiarcase near the Atrium Cafe a few times - there are 62 stairs here!

Climb up and down the staircase near the Atrium Cafe a few times – there are 62 stairs here!

Families enjoy yoga in the galleries

Families enjoy yoga in the galleries

Save money Budgeting and spending less is often a top resolution – especially after the spending frenzy that usually takes place around the holidays. A visit to downtown Dallas might make you think of reaching for your wallet, but in a few short weeks, both general admission and membership will be FREE at the DMA!

Sketching in the Galleries - one of the many things you can enjoy for free after January 21!

Sketching in the Galleries – one of the many things you can enjoy for free after January 21!

Learn something new Expand your horizons and learn all kinds of cool things at the Museum. Learning a foreign language? Visit Posters of Paris: Toulouse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries to discover how many new French words you can pick up. Attend an Arts and Letters Live event and hear an award-winning author to expand your literary expertise. Pick up an artistic skill in the Studio with a hands-on experience during a C3 Artistic Encounter. You can even meet and interact with artists in a variety of DMA programs!

Visitors exploring art materials in the Studio

Visitors exploring art materials in the Studio.

Artist John Bramblitt talks about his artwork during an Art Beyond Sight access program.

Artist John Bramblitt talks about his artwork during an Art Beyond Sight access program.

Spend more time with family and friends Spend time with family and friends while learning about works of art in the galleries and you might even learn some new about one another! Have a date night at the Museum during Jazz in the Atrium on a Thursday evening or bring the whole family and enjoy a wide variety of experiences during a Late Night at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Fun times during Late Night Studio Creations!

Fun times during Late Night Studio Creations!

Whatever your resolutions might be, having fun is one resolution that should be on everyone’s New Year list. Take time to enjoy life and appreciate the beauty around you! Happy New Year!

Amanda Blake

Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences


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