The Museum Team

The Museum Team

When planning a new program, keep in mind the impact on other departments and the need for coordination. In this module, we suggest the different departments to consider in developing your program, and we provide tips for successful communication and coordination of your museum team.

Practical Considerations: The Museum Team



Troubleshooting Tips

Funding Strategies! Low Cost. No Cost.

Contributors and Reviewers:
Rebecca McGuinness, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Deborah Jaffe, the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Practical Considerations: The Museum Team

Depending on the size and structure of your institution, many individuals and departments will play roles in developing and executing your accessibility program. The departments most commonly involved in accessibility issues are education, visitor services, curatorial, facilities management, security, design, human resources, and the volunteer office.

Mariann Smith, Albright-Knox (1:15)

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Media player icon showing Mariann Smith

Mariann Smith, Curator of Education, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY on Accessibility as a Museum-Wide Initiative


Deborah Cardin Jewish Museum of Maryland ( 4:43)

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Media player icon showing Deborah Cardin

Deborah Cardin, Education Director, Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore on How the Museum Built a Museum Team for Accessibility.


Debbi Hegstrom, MIA ( 2:51)

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Media player icon showing Debbie Hegstrom

Debbi Hegstrom, Associate Educator, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN on how MIA created a Museum Team for Accessibility.

Curatorial staff may be surprised to be included in accessibility programming. However, curatorial departments are responsible for much of your museum's content development and design decisions, so their input is essential. It will affect the exhibition and gallery layout and therefore the way visitors with disabilities can use the space. Ask curators to help with touch tours and workshops. They may be very interested in engaging visually impaired people and making their collections accessible to people with a broad range of disabilities.


Creates clear information with appropriate and appealing language, coordinates publicity, acts as a liaison to the public.

Counsels Office

Ensures institution meets or exceeds legal obligations according to federal, state, and local statutes for accessibility.


Helps select objects appropriate for people who are blind or visual impaired.


Researches and writes grant proposals for program funding.


Brings in audiences, coordinates staff and volunteers, teaches and evaluates the program; organizes record keeping, essential for grant proposals and annual reports. Accessibility coordinators frequently work under the aegis of the education department. The education department may also hire and coordinate consultants.

Facilities Management and Design

Coordinates and supervises design, construction, and maintenance of accessibility features of the building.

Human Resources and Volunteer Coordinator

Screens, hires, and trains staff and volunteers.

Museum Director and Board of Trustees

Promote awareness of the need for accessibility programs, as well as garner funding for programs.

Publications and Design

Create visually clear information, tactile/braille texts, and labels.

Registrar, Collection Management and Conservation

Responsible for the protecting and maintaining the collection, and selecting objects that can safely be accessed by touch.


Sensitively guides visitors who are blind and visually impaired, while safeguarding collections.

Visitor Services

Provides physical access to a variety of audiences; schedules tours; integrates program into the museum-wide schedule and events calendar.

Communication is essential

While developing your program, make connections with your colleagues. Find out what everyone else does; get to know them and their points of view. Efforts to communicate your needs and anticipate theirs will produce good results. It will facilitate special requests and accommodations you may need, and encourage participation in accessibility programs. This will help the administration understand how the museum can and should integrate your position and accessibility into the museum's mission and daily functions.

According to Rebecca McGuinness at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

“The goal of an access person is to do away with his/her job – to make it clear that everyone is responsible for accessibility. You need to draw on your colleagues to make it clear that it is everyone's responsibility. You have to instill it into everyone because if it's all you and you leave…it's dead. You also need to do formal training, but the personal connection is the most important thing .”

One step in creating this open communication is inviting all-staff participation in Art Beyond Sight's annual Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month.

Also, in our Accessibility Tools training you can find a range of resources, including guidelines for braille, large print, audio description, exhibition design, Web accessibility, tactile graphics, and universal design.

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Sample Agendas: The Museum Team

Agenda: Introductory Meeting

Program Introduction:

Why Teach Art to People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired? (15 mins.)

Introduce Pilot Program and Outline Departmental Involvement (30 mins.)

How to Find Out More: Informational Resources for Your Staff (10 mins.)

Question and Answer Session (10 mins)

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Checklist: The Museum Team

Communicate! All the following suggestions contribute to open and thorough communication among members of the museum team.

  1. Create contact lists for different departments. Create an e-mail group for general memos about your program. You can adapt the weekly E-mail Alerts from Awareness Month for this purpose.
  1. Write an introductory memo about your program.
  1. Generate department-specific memos outlining impact. Try to anticipate each department's concerns, such as how the objects might be selected and protected for conservation, and provide possible options or solutions.
  1. Invite your staff to participate in Art Beyond Sight's annual
  1. Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month. Request and review press releases.
  1. Write and review publication guidelines for large-format or braille texts.
  1. Schedule awareness-training programs with security, visitor services, curators, and any other staff who will be working directly with program participants. See our Disability Awareness Training.
  1. Keep security and visitor services apprised of group visits.
  1. Write monthly or annual reports on program (as appropriate) and distribute to contact departments.

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Troubleshooting Tips: The Museum Team

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Funding Strategies: The Museum Team

Low Cost

No Cost

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