by Mari Viita-aho
The Art Museum Club is a group that tours around art museums in Helsinki. It is coordinated by Helsingin kehitysvammatuki 57 ry., a private organization that provides leisure time activity for people with intellectual disabilities.
Most leisure-time activities designed for these people are actualized in exclusive spaces, designated for participants only. This can result in unintended construction of boundaries preventing people with disabilities from moving in the city. The hidden curriculum of the Art museum club is to familiarize the participants with the city: to encourage movement and to make the urban environment more accessible and less remote.
Besides increasing the openness of the city space, the Art Museum Club also aims at promoting easy access to art. To achieve this, the club utilizes some of the very basic ideas of general museum education. The activities of the club are based on the idea of bringing art within everyone’s reach. In each meeting, the notion of translating feelings and images into words, is discussed.
The structure of the club is simple: the group meets, visits an exhibition and discusses it. Meetings take place every two weeks. The group gathers in the lobby of the art museum to which they have to be able to find themselves. Tutors take them to a tour to an ongoing exhibition. Methods used on a tour vary from informative guided tours to visual thinking strategy -based meetings. In addition, when there is a low threshold workshop, or exhibition-related participative activity available, it can be utilized.
Sauntering exhibitions is certainly fun, but the most important part follows only after the tour: time for coffee and cake … and to reflect the new ideas imprinted in mind.
More on art museum club is to come, so stay tuned!