Students and staff who helped curate the current Access-Ability exhibition at the Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art talked about the importance of access to the arts with State Rep. Mike Vereb (R-150) in the Museum Oct. 11. They were joined by President Bobby Fong, Museum Associate Director for Education Susan Shifrin and Collections Manager Julie Choma. Rep. Vereb supported the application of the Berman Museum to help fund the Access-Ability exhibition.
The Philip and Muriel Berman Museum of Art joins museums throughout the United States that serve visitors with special needs with Access-Ability: Deconstructing and Reconstructing Art for Access, in the Upper Gallery through Dec. 3. The exhibition launches a series of initiatives to make the Museum’s collections more fully accessible to a wide range of differently-abled constituents through verbal description, three-dimensional tactile pieces, and specialized guided tours.
The exhibition is co-curated by Emelie McFarland 2013, Angier Cooper 2015 and Susan Shifrin, Associate Director for Education at the Berman Museum. Also present were alumnae Emily Smith 2011 and Emily Koppenhoffer 2012, who are on the Museum staff. The legislator thanked the students for their energy and commitment.
Dr. Shifrin noted Rep. Vereb’s role in obtaining the grant. “By helping us, we can then help others in your constituency,” she said. “We are reaching out to members of the community who have not felt as welcome until now … It is also an opportunity for our students to put themselves in other people’s places.”
The free-ranging conversation touched on getting students interested in the museum and the Peer Docent Program, which engages students.
President Fong said that exhibitions like Access-Ability makes the arts accessible, and helps students view things differently, which is part of the college’s obligation to students.
The students noted that although the focus group participants – from Parkhouse Providence Pointe – may not have recalled the meetings explicitly, “they were positively impacted,” said McFarland. “They were happy to be in this space.”
The accessibility initiatives were inaugurated last spring through special training workshops with the directors of Art Beyond Sight and ARTZ: Artists for Alzheimer’s. The workshops will be repeated Nov. 3 and 4.