Museum Education and Accessibility: Bridging the Gaps


The 2015 CECA conference will consider accessibility as the degree to which museum collections, programs, and expertise are available to as many people as possible.

Today many people still face widespread barriers to museum resources and learning opportunities.  Socioeconomic and geographic obstacles as well as physical and cognitive disabilities hinder full participation in cultural life for these underserved audiences. While many museums with missions aimed at social change and justice have developed strategies of inclusion, there is still a considerable disparity of approaches and absence of enduring programs. How can museum education bridge the gaps? What roles can digital access and new technologies play?

Driving questions may include:

  • What do we know about the motivations, needs, and expectations of underserved audiences in relation to museums?
  • What models of inclusion can museum educators share?
  • What are examples of programs that empower underserved audiences, enable their independence, and enhance their quality of life?
  • How can museum educators maintain and expand these models and programs?
  • How can digital access expand learning opportunities and empower audiences to be full participants in their local communities and our global society?
  • What critical questions should museums be asking about the use and ethics of new technologies and digital access?

We invite participants to share examples, ideas, best practices, and research.

President’s Address

In 2012, during CECA annual conference in Yerevan, the Board decided to host the 2015 conference in Washington, DC. First time since 1982 in the USA!  Pino Monaco, Board member, took the responsibility of the organization and engaged many of the local Institutions to provide diverse and comprehensive experiences to the conference participants.  While the Smithsonian Institution is the main host for CECA, we will be able to interact with several other local Institutions, ranging in size, mission and audiences. As the organization of an international conference is a rather complex task, Pino and his team worked at full speed from the very beginning to provide a meaningful and accessible experience to all participants and to colleagues around the world through live-streaming.

The choice of the theme fostered a large discussion: we did not want to overlap themes already explored during the past conferences, we considered the democratic mission of museums and took into account that the current harsh economic crisis is even harder for disadvantaged people. Eventually we came out with the title Museum Education and Accessibility: Bridging the Gaps. I would like to draw the attention to the two key words. Accessibility is interpreted in a large sense and includes all aspects that hinder people to enter a museum: not only physical, but also social, economic, and educational; therefore we want to discuss bridges that are varied and innovative.

The call for papers is already open until March 31st and registration was just announced.

I hope to meet many CECA members in Washington and I am sure that our discussion will be lively and valuable as usual.

Emma Nardi
(ICOM – CECA President)

Welcome by Dr. Johnnetta Cole