Nelson-Atkins Museum Partners with Alphapointe to Provide Art Experience

A new program at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art offers monthly tours through 2011 for people who are blind or visually impaired. Inspired by the 100th anniversary celebration of Alphapointe Association for the Blind, as many as nine visually impaired people at a time, along with a guest, will be able to experience the joy of art.

“We’ve been doing tactile tours at the Nelson-Atkins since 2005,” said Susan Spencer, Specialist, School Tours. “But they are usually limited to three people and mostly involve students. Now adults who are visually impaired, and their families, can come for a tactile tour.”

Two types of tactile tours are available as of Jan 15. One focuses on contemporary interpretations, the other on the human figure. Participants will begin in a classroom in the Museum’s Ford Learning Center as docents introduce them to handling objects with care. They will touch different substances, such as bronze or ceramic, after putting on cotton gloves that protect the items from the natural oil on their hands. After that introduction, they will be guided into the Museum to feel sculptures as a docent provides them with a short, verbal history of the work.

“Those who can see don’t appreciate how much we use our eyesight in everyday life,” said Reinhard Mabry, President and CEO of Alphapointe. “The joy of experiencing art should not be limited to those who can see. Art enhances the human experience and should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their disabilities.”

Alphapointe sought a partnership with the Nelson-Atkins in hopes of boosting the visibility of the services it has offered the visually impaired community for 100 years.

“Art is therapy for us,” said Mabry. “It’s a way for us to coax people out of their shells. Anyone who is blind or suffers vision loss is welcome on these tactile tours.”

Reservations are required and can be made by calling 816-751-1ART. All tours are at 10:30 a.m. on one Saturday a month, starting Jan. 15. Participants are asked to check in at the Info Desk in the Bloch Building when they arrive.

“I’m hopeful that these tours will make the visually impaired feel welcome here, because art is for everyone’s enjoyment,” said Spencer. “Our specially trained docents will help them visualize the pieces they touch.”

The dates for the tactile tours are Jan. 15, Feb. 19, March 26, April 23, May 21, June 25, July 16, Aug. 20, Sept. 17, Oct. 15, Nov. 19 and Dec. 17.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City is recognized nationally and internationally as one of America’s finest art museums. The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access and insight into its renowned collection of more than 33,500 art objects and is best known for its Asian art, European and American paintings, photography, modern sculpture, and new American Indian and Egyptian galleries. Housing a major art research library and the Ford Learning Center, the Museum is a key educational resource for the region. The institution-wide transformation of the Nelson-Atkins has included the 165,000-square-foot Bloch Building expansion and renovation of the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins.

The Nelson-Atkins is located at 45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO. Hours are Wednesday, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Thursday/Friday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday, Noon–5 p.m. Admission to the Museum is free to everyone. For Museum information, phone 816.751.1ART (1278) or visit nelson-atkins.org.
About Alphapointe Association for the Blind
Alphapointe is the largest employer of blind and visually impaired individuals in Missouri and the only Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Education Service of its type in the Kansas City metropolitan area as well as the state of Missouri. The mission of Alphapointe is “to empower people with vision loss to maximize their independence”.  Alphapointe’s Campus is located at 7501 Prospect Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri. For more information about Alphapointe Association for the Blind, the services provided and ways you can help people who are blind and visually impaired contact (816)421-5848.
For media interested in receiving further information, please contact:
Kathleen Leighton, Communications and Media Relations Officer
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

KC Studio

KC Studio covers the performing, visual, cinematic and literary arts, and the artists, organizations and patrons that make Kansas City a vibrant center for arts and culture.

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