In May-June 2017, the expert of the Sakhalin Regional Museum of Local History, Tatyana Chaychenko together with museum specialists from St. Petersburg, Izhevsk, Yekaterinburg, Yakutsk, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok took part in the US Publicly Accessible Museums project within the framework of the International Visitor Leadership program.
The Work Program included visits to 23 museums in Washington, Indianapolis, San Diego, Santa Fe and New York and introduced best practices in the field of museums accessibility, including a wide range of special methods for persons with disabilities. In addition to museums stated in the Program, the same number of museums was visited in the free time.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been in force since 1990. This is a complete set of rules on the rights of persons with disabilities and was designed to make American society more accessible to people with disabilities. The basic concept of this state program is that the access to the services of any organization or institution to any disabled person should be as easy as to a person without a disability.
The system ensuring the rights of persons with disabilities has been working in the US for 27 years.
During this period, museums have begun to play an important role in the socialization and self-identification of people through introduction to the cultural and natural heritage. In museums were created not only comfortable conditions for visitors but also various educational programs were introduced. Though this activity is close to a similar work conducted in Russian museums, it is characterized by specific features. This work in museums in the United States is carried out both by museum professionals and by specially trained volunteers. The number of volunteers in the museum may exceed the number of full-time employees. Museums become methodical centers, and a variety of educational programs attracts a wide range of visitors. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York) maintains a special educational library that distributes the educational programs of the museum in the teachers community and tactile reproductions of museum objects which are used for activities conducted for the blind visitors. The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) offers tours for the blind and visually impaired visitors around the exposition, where visitors in special gloves are allowed to «explore» the sculptures of world famous artists. In the Childrens Museum of Indianapolis the worlds largest childrens museum all exhibitions and expositions are created in conjunction with the development of specialized childrens programs for different age. A special place is occupied by interactive forms of work using exhibits that involve all sense organs. One of the brightest Dinosphere exhibitions includes a paleontological laboratory, several realistic full-size dinosaur skeletons, as well as one of the largest collections of fossil remains of dinosaurs in the USA. Here you can feel like a paleontologist and having a realistic equipment set of a scientist can try your hand at research activities, can pick up smells characteristic for that period of time or get into a thunderstorm and also hear sounds made by different dinosaurs.
There is a large number of museums in the United States. Tens of millions of people visit museums every year and the number of visitors increases from year to year. It was announced at the American Alliance of Museums Conference (AAM 2014) in Seattle that since 1990 the number of museums in the US has more than doubled. In 1990 there were 17,500 working museums, and according to data reported on May 19, 2014, the number of active museums in the US is currently 35,144. It includes not only public museums in the traditional sense of the word, but also private museums, botanical gardens, zoos, aquariums and historical societies. All these museums are accessible to everyone who wants to visit and learn, despite the fact that federal funding is not provided for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The funds are raised by museums themselves with the help of «donors» which they also look for themselves. In return, museum sponsors obtain not only moral satisfaction from their charitable activities, but also substantial tax deductions. The failure to comply with the ADA guidelines can lead any institution to lawsuits.
Of course, it is not necessarily right that everything that works well in other countries can be applied in Russia, but to study the best practices used successfully to improve peoples lives, regardless of their physical capabilities, to try to adapt them in the conditions that are usual for our country is one of the important tasks facing our society.
Meeting in Washington
The Childrens Museum of Indianapolis is the worlds largest childrens museum
In Smithsonian American Art Museum where visually impaired people can «see» pictures
Queue at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington which is part of the Smithsonian Institution
At the Dinosphere in the Childrens Museum of Indianapolis, the weather often changes even the rain «comes» with lightning and thunder
You can feel like a paleontologist. The Childrens Museum in Indianapolis
George Washington Mount Vernon Estate. The most visited historic sites estate in the United States. It shows the life of different social groups of the population
Prepared by: T. P. Chaychenko, Head of the Scientific and Educational Department.
Photos are from T. P. Chaychenko personal archive.