I am pleased to announce the release of a digital publication titled Making History Accessible: Toolkit for Multisensory Interpretation. I am proud to have been a member of this collaboration.

It details a range of digital and physical/tactile solutions to help make content created by historic sites and other educational facilities more accessible to people with disabilities. This is a benefit to everyone because multisensory approaches help all visitors.

Read to the end of this post for the link to download the toolkit.

This publication is the final product of a multi-year project that brought together a group of historic sites, disability advocates, and advisors to design accessible exhibits and products for use at historic sites. The collaborators are:

•            The Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum,

•            New York University’s Ability Project,

•            Seven historic sites and house museums,

•            Eight disability advocates,

•            Access Smithsonian, and

•            National Trust for Historic Preservation.

When we kicked off the project in December 2019, I remember that the historic sites were interested in creating physical exhibits. We met as a group and conducted brainstorming sessions to generate ideas for each of the historic sites.

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we pivoted to the creation of accessible web-based mobile guides that visitors can access via their personal devices. For more information, read my post titled Bring Your Own Accessible Device

In 2021, we reconvened and continued our work on designing and prototyping tactile exhibits. The case studies described in the Making History Accessible toolkit reflect these two different areas of emphasis. They include both exhibits and web-based mobile guides.

Multisensory exhibits are described in the toolkit. They are:

•            3D photograph of the famous cartoon by Thomas Nast depicting Santa Claus

•            Reproduction of a cast iron stove at the Louisiana State Museum

•            Scale model of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia

•            Olfactory Experience ( smell boxes) at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum.

I have formed partnerships with colleagues as a result of this project. Read my post about the creation of the Please Touch Tour at Macculloch Hall  Historical Museum  in Morristown New Jersey. One of the tour stations is the 3D photo of the cartoon mentioned above. The touch tour consists of objects from the museum collections, or replicas when the original object is fragile.

In future posts, I will write about new collaborative projects that I am starting with colleagues at the New York University Museum Studies Program and the Ability Project.

Now, I will close this post with the promised download information. The Making History Accessible toolkit is free to download in word or pdf from the Intrepid Museum Access webpage.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, IMLS grant number CAGML-247144-OMLS-20. The project is also supported by the Harry S. Black and Allon Fuller Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee.

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