Berman’s ‘Access-Ability’ Exhibit Opens September 17

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 Sept. 17 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.

This exhibition will present pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection in the context of best practices, including verbal description and multi-sensory tours, 3D tactile diagrams of 2D works of art and specialized guided tours for visitors living with dementia. The exhibition is co-curated by Emelie McFarland 2013, Angier Cooper 2015 and Susan Shifrin, Associate Director for Education at the Berman Museum. An opening reception is Sept. 23 from 2 to 4 p.m.

The Berman has joined the museum network of the organization ARTZ: Artists for Alzheimer’s, the first museum in Pennsylvania to do so. This affiliation will make available an in-house arts-based support program designed specifically for visitors with dementia.

“The goal of the Museum is not only to augment and professionalize our internal operations from this perspective, but to sponsor opportunities for idea-sharing and collaboration with other museums and caregiving organizations in the greater Delaware Valley, so as to make as lasting an impact as possible on our region’s capabilities,” according to Dr. Shifrin. The Berman will model innovative programs and strategies for creating as many accessible exhibitions as possible according to the standards established in the fields of arts access and arts-based support for those living with dementia.

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 fall initiatives will involve a regional Advisory Board, partnerships with Philadelphia arts and educational institutions, an initiative with residents of Parkhouse, Montgomery County’s facility for the aging, and coordination with the Ursinus Psychology Department and Common Intellectual Experience first-year course.

A related event, co-sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Consortium of Women’s Studies and The Berman Museum, will take place on the Ursinus campus Nov. 14. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, a renowned scholar of women’s and disabilities studies, and the author of Staring: How We Look, will speak at 7 p.m. in Pfahler auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

The Berman Museum of Art, known for its diverse collection and its innovative educational programming, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; and noon to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Museum is closed Mondays and college holidays. The Museum is accessible to the physically disabled and admission is free. The museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums. Exhibitions and programs are funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. For more information, please contact the Museum at 610-409-3500.