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December 9, 2010 / helengraham

The project plan…meets reality

With many thanks to the D.C. intellectual and development disabilities self-advocacy and professional networks who have been just so incredibly open and welcoming, I’ve been able to meet many of the people who will be exploring the museums over the next couple of months.

The methodology of the Museums for Us project was imagined in three parts when I initially did the Museum Practice Fellowship proposal. The first meeting would be somewhere convenient for the person or the family. At this meeting we would get to know each other a bit, explore the best ways of communicating and interacting, discuss how they like spending their time, reflect a bit on good day trips and bad day trips and then, where relevant, good and bad museum visits. We’d then look at photos of different things you can see in each of the Smithsonian’s 12 D.C.-based museums/gardens and then from there pick a site to visit.

Then would follow a visit where, depending on how people like to communicate, we’d use drawing, photography and voice/sound recording to document the trip. This would be followed by a reflective discussion. For this – again a few options were imagined depending on the person – we’d possibly begin with what sticks in people’s minds, key good point and bad points and then go on to talking through the photos and picking out key moments from the audio recorder. A second option would be to use all the material to put together a digital story film – with the aim of making the process of reflecting on the visit as engaging as possible. The final phase would be to draw together the families and then young people and adults to discuss the project and suggest some things the Smithsonian and museums in general should think about from the future.

That was the plan – conceived 3500 miles away from where I am now in the UK where I usually live and work – …but the plan always aimed to be very flexible and adaptable and to work in a way which suits those involved.

I have my first proper meetings with people over the next few days… the plan might look very different soon!

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