Mariann Smith, Curator of Education, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
How Albright-Knox Began an Accessibility Program 2:00
I’m Mariann Smith, Curator of Education at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Universal access has always been a concern for the education department, and in the 1970s we started a program called “Matter at Hand.” The goal was to make the gallery accessible, regardless of age or disability. Several years ago we became aware that we really couldn't do it all by ourselves, we needed everyone on staff involved in awareness of making the whole museum’s experience accessible to all individuals. That included the physical environment—we needed to get buildings and grounds involved in that, we needed to get our curators involved for how the labels were hung, the text that was used. So a committee was formed with individuals from different departments to create a gallery policy for universal access, and it was decided to hold a training for every member of the staff because every member has to always be aware of what they are doing and how that might impact access for various individuals. Every exhibition needs to be thought of in a design that everyone can get into and everyone can have access to and that everyone can get something out of. For the first time ever, the gallery hired a Visitor Services Coordinator, and he is responsible for making the first impressions that people get be “wonderful,” as he would say, and a friendly welcoming for everyone. Our human resources person is also extremely concerned with the work place and making the work place accessible. Security is very conscious of trying to help anyone who comes in start out their experience in a good way and get what they need.