This season, Carnegie Museum of Art explores human creativity in its many forms. Situated among shows featuring Claude Monet’s Waterloo Bridge series and the vivid paintings of artist Ruth Root, Access+Ability highlights the ingenuity of contemporary designers who are making the world more accessible. This traveling exhibition, organized by the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, offers a compelling look at the power of good design to transform everyday life.
Access+Ability reveals the latest innovations for individuals with a wide range of physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities, and it tells the inspiring stories of those who create and benefit from these groundbreaking designs. They’re more than improvements in function; they provide a variety of customizable options and aesthetic choices that we all want in our clothing, accessories, and belongings.
Access+Ability marks a high point in the work our museum has been doing for years: prioritizing educational programming and curatorial strategies that are more sensitive to populations that have historically been excluded from museum galleries.
With this exhibition comes an optimistic ethos that can and should enhance our everyday art museum experience. This summer, our education team is premiering tactile reproductions of two exceptional paintings in our collection: Mary Cassatt’s Young Women Picking Fruit and Frederic Edwin Church’s The Iceberg. These interactive replicas—a first for the museum—will live in the galleries next to the originals, offering visitors a new way to experience these iconic works. We’ve also expanded our roster of accessible tours, including American Sign Language tours, visual description tours, and family friendly versions of both. We’ve located these experiences within the collection with intention: they will live beyond this exhibition. We are committing to expanding access to our evergreen spaces through a variety of programs that reach a rich and varied audience, and are actively seeking feedback on ways we can continue to improve.
Access+Ability marks a high point in the work our museum has been doing for years: prioritizing educational programming and curatorial strategies that are more sensitive to populations that have historically been excluded from museum galleries. Together with our sister Carnegie Museums, we continue to update the navigability of our spaces, and are persistently working to expand the scope of what accessibility can mean for us as an institution.
Art can be a catalyst for creativity, compassion, and self-expression, and is a vital and ever-relevant part of the social experience. In this moment, we are excited to explore new ways of strengthening connections among art, ideas, and people through a more inclusive understanding of what it means to be accessible.
The Henry J. Heinz II Acting Director and The Richard Armstrong Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Carnegie Museum of Art
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