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Deaf Culture Project Launches at Nelson-Atkins

IMLS Grant Provides New Position, Funding for Three Years

Kansas City, MO. April 17, 2018–A groundbreaking initiative to provide high quality, accessible, and inclusive programming for visitors who are Deaf or hard of hearing is underway at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

“One of the core principles of the Nelson-Atkins strategic plan is attracting all our constituents with focused and effective communications and outreach,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell CEO & Director of the Nelson-Atkins. “Engaging our visitors who are Deaf or hard of hearing will deepen and broaden our mission, building relationships and expanding involvement.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded the Nelson-Atkins a three-year grant to research and implement a rich array of public offerings through the Deaf Culture Project, as well as to hire a Coordinator for the Deaf Culture Program. In her new position, Lucy Crabtree will deepen existing relationships with the Deaf and hard of hearing communities and coordinate the museum’s annual Deaf Culture Day. The Nelson-Atkins will create a suite of interrelated activities designed to build engagement and learning among visitors who are Deaf, empowering them to participate in the museum’s collections and programs.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with community stakeholders and partner organizations such the Museum of Deaf History, Arts and Culture, The Whole Person, and the Kansas School for the Deaf,” said Christine Boutros, Manager, Community & Access Programs.

“This is a project that will not only increase access to the collection for Deaf and hard of hearing populations in Kansas City, but will also build general audience understanding and appreciation for Deaf culture, American Sign Language, and the diversity of experiences and identities of people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.”

This program builds on a 2015 initiative, in which the Nelson-Atkins formed an Advisory Committee for Accessibility to work with people with disabilities. Other programs arising from this committee include Low Sensory Mornings and Relating to Art, and current tactile tours have been revamped.

The Deaf Culture Project will be developed with Deaf and hard of hearing communities across greater Kansas City and will provide a model for museums around the country. Over the coming months, the museum will work to identify and understand what programs, approaches, and strategies would have the greatest and most positive impact. Focus groups will discuss opportunities, challenges, and benefits that will inform project planning and development. Programs could be implemented by Fall 2019.

Photo credit: Alaina Abplanalp

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 museum, which strives to be the place where the power of art engages the spirit of community, opens its doors free of charge to people of all backgrounds. The museum is an institution that both challenges and comforts, that both inspires and soothes, and it is a destination for inspiration, reflection and connecting with others.

The Nelson-Atkins serves the community by providing access to its renowned collection of nearly 40,000 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. In 2017, the Nelson-Atkins celebrates the 10-year anniversary of the Bloch Building, a critically acclaimed addition to the original 1933 Nelson-Atkins Building.

The Nelson-Atkins is located at 45th and Oak Streets, Kansas City, MO. Hours are Wednesday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday/Friday, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission to the museum is free to everyone. For museum information, phone 816.751.1ART (1278) or visit nelson-atkins.org.

For media interested in receiving further information, please contact:

Kathleen Leighton, Manager, Media Relations and Video Production

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art