I am Debbi Hegstrom and I am in the Museum Guide department of the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts.  I am an Associate Educator working with the docent program.

When we did the public touch tours, open to anyone who came on those Fridays, and we advertised in an arts magazine, I had several staff members stop me in the hall and say, “Wow, that is so cool that you are letting everybody touch and I am going to go to one and do it.”  I think that’s partly why we had a great turnout.  A lot of it was museum staff to some extent and then the word spread to the public.

I think it has come out of some of the conferences I have gone on to where the whole concept of universal design is really so important.  I think any program you have, everyone benefits from the things that you develop.  It just made sense to me that you don’t single out a certain population.  Everybody loves to touch a work of art.  There’s a thrill involved.  You use another sense.  And so, I thought, “Let’s try it.  Let’s see what happens.”  We didn’t know how many people would show up.  It was a sort of soft-sell advertising.  We didn’t make big banners or anything, but just the idea that through word of mouth, I think is mostly how it spread.

We have other touch tours that have been specifically for people who are blind or with low vision.  I just wanted to extend that to other people as well.



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