The theme for Week 4 of My Home is a Museum project is “Secrets from Childhood”. This topic is in line with some of the controversial thoughts of our modern world, specifically those concerning the origin of Covid 19. Some theories assert it as a biological weapon, others refer to it as a result of political collisions there are also people believing that it is a sign of an alien invasion. As the society is still debating over the genuine emerge of this virus, we can look at this situation from a different perspective. Namely, let’s use the aspect of mystery as a point of departure to think about our childhood secrets. As always we will need to find an object/s in our living environments which can tell the unveil those secrets. This prompt was kindly offered by Olga Seleznyova who responded to the theme of Week 3.
How to respond?
Choose an object what fits the theme
Take 1-3 pictures of the object
How does the object exemplify what matters to you?
What experience in your life made this object matter to you?
Please include the answers to the following information when submitting your entry:
What it your name?
Where do you live?
What do you do?
P.S. Please note that by submitting your response for this project you give permission to share it later on the blog.
The theme for week 3 was “Masks”. I was excited about this theme as it refers to one of the most common items in our daily lives during these tumultuous times.
I am pleased to share a thrilling response to the aforementioned prompt below.
Olga Seleznyova Baku,Azerbaijan Artist Manager at Faig Ahmed Studio
“This mask was made by my grandfather in the early 80s. In addition to the talent for creating beautiful things from wood and plaster, grandpa has a talent for finding beautiful things on the street. He still brings some little treasures from the Boulevard and stores them carefully. One of these windfalls was a brooch that completed the look of this wooden mask.
A wooden mask with a brooch on the forehead.
When I was a little girl, I thought it was the Snow Queen and she comes alive at night. The fears in my childish conscious were strengthened on the day grandpa showed me the secret of this mask. If you turn the mask over, you will see special stands for small candles. At night, under the cover of darkness and the action of the magical flickering light of candles, she revived. I never slept in that room again 🙂 “ What a story! Do you also have mysterious found objects in your homes? Share your finds in the comment section.
Summertime is often the season when I, as I am sure many of our readers as well, will go and explore various museums. Seeing as how I am from Virginia, this usually means going to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts or the (newly renamed) Virginia Museum of History & Culture. One of my absolute favorite hidden gems in Richmond, however, is Agecroft Hall. A beautiful Tudor-era English manor house that was brought over piece-by-piece in the early twentieth century from its original place in England, Agecroft Hall is a unique blend of early modern architecture with modern conveniences (such as closets and radiators).
The tours that visitors are treated to at Agecroft are likewise an interesting mix of early modern English history and the estate’s twentieth-century history of how it made its way from England to the US due to the popular desires to have European-style homes. T.C. Williams, Jr., the man who purchased Agecroft and had it brought over to Richmond, actually wanted to create a kind of Tudor-style neighborhood surrounding Agecroft Hall (although this didn’t ultimately happen, Agecroft’s neighbor is likewise an early modern English-style home). Some visitors, I think, will be unsure of how to feel about a very historic English home being taken from its original grounds and brought over and adapted to fit 1920s standards of living; I know I at least was not sure what to think of this initially. However, Agecroft Hall was on the verge of collapse due to mining in the surrounding English countryside and had fallen into disrepair. So while extra closet spaces and radiators are perhaps not quite what is usually done in the maintaining of an historic house – indeed, nor is changing the entire floor plan, as Williams chose to do – at least Agecroft Hall was given a kind of second life as the home-turned-museum in Richmond, Virginia. This choice was also not made without much thought and care – Agecroft Hall only left England with the approval of Parliament after a debate.
For me, it is also so interesting to think of how much conservation and preservation work has developed from the time when Agecroft Hall was brought over to the US to today. I think that while the methods perhaps are not what would have been done now, that the spirit of wanting to ensure the survival – at least in some capacity – of a historically significant building is something that is in common between past and present efforts.
Gardens at Agecroft Hall, modeled after the gardens of Hampton Court Palace
The museum also is such a wonderful opportunity to learn about and experience these kinds of historic houses that usually one would have to fly overseas to Europe in order to see. As my area of focus is early modern England, you can imagine my delight when I first went to Agecroft Hall. The majority of the museum is staged just as an early modern home would have been in its day, giving visitors an idea of what life in a manor house like Agecroft Hall would have been like for both servants and the family. Rich tapestries and wood furniture darkened with age; portraits of Elizabethan courtiers; a curiosity cabinet; herbals and King James I’s treatise on the evils of witchcraft; and, most exciting of all, a pardon with Elizabeth I’s own beeswax seal. These are only some of the wonderful artifacts on display at this fascinating historic house and I know I can’t wait to go visit again as soon as I can.
July 26th, 2020 marked the thirty-year anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which made it illegal to discriminate against people based on a disability in areas including, but not limited to, employment, transportation, and public services. In an article, called “A Brief History of The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” Jillian Abel provides some historical context about the passing of the law and how it has been influential in recent years. According to Abel, active support for those with disabilities had began as early as the 1960s and resulted in the passing of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act which banned discrimination based on disabilities for those receiving federal funding. Over the years, activism continued and would eventually lead to the passing of the ADA. Since then the ADA has continued to make updates to their regulations with the intent of providing as much participation and access of equal quality to all individuals.
Museums have gradually made changes to become more ADA compliant. In an article by NEA Director of Accessibility, Beth Bienvenu, “Museums and the Americans with Disabilities Act at 25: Progress and Looking Ahead,” some of the accommodations made by museums are discussed such as audio guides, tactile tours, captioned video, sign-language interpreted tours, and wheelchair access to all physical spaces. Despite these efforts, however, Bienvenu also explains that a 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts found that “21 percent of all adults visited an art museum or gallery, but only 11 percent of adults with disabilities made such a visit.” She goes on, explaining that there is still more work to be done in order to provide more involvement for those with disabilities.
Last year, Claire Voon wrote an article, “Museums Are Finally Taking Accessibility for Visitors with Disabilities Seriously,” in which she discussed changes made by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in order to better serve visitors with disabilities. One of the actions taken by MoMA was to invite ten individuals with different impairments to walk through their spaces. Voon discusses the MoMA’s decision in more detail, articulating that while museums attempt to be more accessible, they often fail to consider the various kinds of accommodations visitors might need. In many cases, it takes someone with a disability walking through a space to indicate that there is a problem with access or inclusion.
In many cases, museums have taken steps in the right direction to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and create more accessibility to their events and spaces. However, as many of the articles have stated above, there is still much work to be done. In my own experience, interactions I have had with individuals with different impairments has greatly increased my awareness of potential barriers within museum spaces. While my awareness has been increased, I do not always have ideas on how to solve the problem. This is where knowing what resources are available to you come in handy. Below are a few links which provide information on the Americans with Disabilities Act itself and ideas on how to create a more accessible institution.
Are there experiences you have from a visit to a museum you would like to share? Consider creating a guest post on our blog to further the discussion of accessibility and inclusivity.
Do you know of other useful resources that both current and future museum professionals could utilize to create more accessible environments? Please leave a comment below or send us a message through the “contact us” option located in the sidebar at right.