On October 17, 2012, the Ontario Museum Association held the Colloquium on Learning in Museums for its tenth iteration in St. Catharines. The year’s theme, accessibility, provided participants the opportunity to learn, engage, and network with colleagues from across Canada as they shared their work in museum education and accessibility.
|A group of UofT student participants.|
|Mary Collier kicked off the Colloquium and invited Diane Gallinger to address the participants.||Diane Gallinger, accessibility specialist from Jordan Heritage Resources gave an opening address.|
Wendy Rowney facilitated the morning sessions.
|Laura Robb presented on her recent involvement with the Bata Shoe Museum's multisensory tour project.||Dave Barr discussed mobile technologies for museums.|
|Morning speakers.||Barb Magee, presented the ROM's Ronald McDonald House outreach program.|
|Sally Warren, from Nova Scotia, presented the Education Kit “Out Home: Africville"||Meredith Leonard presented the Fort Erie museum's eco-museum model.|
|Alysa Procida and Brittany Holliss presented the Museum of Inuit Art's (MIA) accessible learning programs.||Christine Lockett, at podium, facilitated the afternoon sessions.|
Sally Warren, Museum and Gallery Education Consultant, Nova Scotia
Creating a Teaching Tool for a Tough Topic, Out Home: Africville
This presentation explored Sally’s story about the research, design, testing, and fabrication of an Education Kit called “Out Home: Africville” that places practical tools for teaching about racial discrimination in the hands of teachers. Sally’s story is about the collaboration of a team of women who lived through the destruction of their home and their community, with the consultants and technology staff at the Department of Education, with teachers and students and a host of community partners who became ever more committed to the project as they learned the story.
Meredith Leonard, Visitor Services Coordinator, St. Catharines Museum & Jane Davies, Administrator; Curator, Fort Erie Museum Services
Community ‘InReach’: Adapting Principles from the Ecomuseum Model to deliver Accessible Programming in a Rural Community
Incorporating significant volunteer contributions with a strong desire to reflect the identities of the local populace, Fort Erie Museum Services has found many opportunities, inspired by ecomuseum philosophy, to provide increased public access to museum offerings in a rural community. With a focus on public access to museum education and exhibition services, this paper offered an exploration of community partnerships which have resulted in expanded temporary and permanent exhibition spaces as well as enhanced outreach educational events, which go beyond museum walls to reach segments of the local population who may not be able to access the historical museum building itself. Through the case study analysis, this paper discussed the museum’s mission and philosophical direction, which has allowed Fort Erie Museum Services to meet the challenges posed by relatively small exhibition and programming space, a small staff and decentralized, rural community, while enhancing the reach and accessibility of museum education opportunities to the public.
Laura Robb, MMSt Graduate, University of Toronto
Putting our best foot forward: The Bata Shoe Museum’s Multisensory Accessibility Program
Laura Robb described a multisensory tour developed during her time as an intern at the Bata Shoe Museum. This talk described the creation of the project: constructing effective and inexpensive raised line drawings, developing a training program for docents, building relationships with community organizations and advocates, evaluation of all aspects of the project, and the major lessons learned from the experience.
Barb Magee, DMV Outreach Committee, Royal Ontario Museum & Lorie Pierce, Education, Royal Ontario Museum
A Mini-Museum Outreach Program Tailored to a Unique Audience
The need for outreach program at the Royal Ontario Museum grew, in part, from the realization that not all of the museum’s audience are able to attend the facility itself. This includes children undergoing medical investigation and treatment, and their families who are attending to their care. This paper described the development and implementation of a volunteer-based outreach mini-museum program, which has been operating this past year in partnership with the Ronald McDonald House Toronto, the largest of the 13 houses across Canada.
Alysa Procida, Director of Education; Operations & Outreach, Museum of Inuit Art & Brittany Holliss, Educational Assistant, Museum of Inuit Art, Toronto
Increase Accessible Learning for Varied Audiences: Case Studies from the Museum of Inuit Art
The Museum of Inuit Art (MIA) is southern Canada’s only museum devoted exclusively to art made by Inuit and is situated in a high traffic area of downtown Toronto, where knowledge of Inuit and other Aboriginal peoples is fairly limited. MIA defines access broadly: in order to be accessible, the museum and its staff feel that not only does it have to meet legal accessibility requirements but also be useful to the communities it serves. This means the museum’s physical visitors, which include local Torontonians, international visitors and school children, and Inuit, both artists and their community members, who live primarily in the Arctic and have limited if any access to the physical museum.
MIA, then, faces two primary challenges to the accessibility of our collection: how do we create a physical space that is welcoming, educational and responsive to our physical visitors while also serving Inuit in their home communities?
This paper explored a number of educational projects that MIA has implemented over the last year. Briefly, these include: creating video interviews using Skype with artists throughout the Arctic in both English and Inuktitut which are available online and inside the museum; adding a “family passport” to tie into the museum’s MIA Kids interpretive label series; incorporating new technology such as QR codes and augmented reality to provide additional contextual information for visitors on Inuit artists and culture; and creating a virtual walkthrough of the special exhibition, “The Unique World of Jessie Kenalogak”.
Dave Barr, Digital Projects Coordinator, Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Kitchener
The Mobile Museum: A New Educational Dimension with the Potential for Improved Accessibility
In the US, now almost 50% of cell phone users carry smartphones; in Canada it's probably more; for young people, the proportion is even higher. These are trends that, together with business and media organizations, innovative museums are embracing enthusiastically. Museum educators, of course, have been excited about the opportunities for enhanced learning facilitated by mobile devices, especially using the bring your own device (BYOD) strategy. But perhaps in all the excitement, another opportunity offered by smartphones and tablets, the potential for improving accessibility, has been overlooked. There are three conflicting standards at work in museums: exhibit design, conservation, and accessibility.
The results are not always optimum for the visitor. How often have you squinted to read an object label because it was too small or too poorly lighted? How many times have you seen a child lifted up by a parent because the display was too high to be seen by anyone under 4 feet tall? This presentation addressed some inexpensive and effective mobile approaches to improving museum accessibility for those who are visually challenged, hearing challenged, mobility challenged and communication challenged. It also covered best practices in the use of these devices in museums.
Ingrid Birker, Science Outreach Coordinator, Redpath Museum McGill University, Montreal, QC
Hot Science/Cool Programs: Science Outreach at the Redpath Museum, McGill University
This presentation addressed how Science Outreach and educational initiatives bridge the gap between the university’s science professionals (the expert researchers), the museum’s science exhibits, and the general public. The newly created Science Outreach Division and its program operates out of the Redpath Museum, Canada’s oldest Museum, and sustains a vital link between the University and the surrounding community. This presentation described the framework and practice of the Museum’s most popular Science Outreach programs developed specifically for the teen and young adult audience.
We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage Museums Assistance Program.