1 in 59 children has autism, which gives an approximate of 750,000 children in Argentina. Children and teens with Autism are seldom integrated or included in museums or cultural institutions. There are no sensory friendly workshops and activities.
Many parents with children with developmental disabilities want their children to be able to visit museums who offer early entry and sensory-friendly activities to those on the spectrum of any age. The Moderno has been among the first to develop programming with the intent to make the museum more accessible and enjoyable. We have reached out to families and experts to see how we can better accommodate those with autism.
At the Museo Moderno we strongly believe that art can be used as a tool for social and emotional learning and it can contribute to the well-being of our visitors. We want to reach them through meaningful activities that promote connection, build empathy and resilience, and help them express their emotions and feelings in an inclusive way. Our ASD inclusive program integrates children and teens with Autism to art and cultural activities in museums by creating inclusive visits and workshops tailored to their needs.
As part of this program we designed a series of art based activities for children and teens with Autism. We developed different activities related to artists and the museum’s exhibitions, that include visual vocabulary association cards, a popular learning resource for people with ASD. In this way, children and teens with ASD incorporate a creative activity that stimulates imagination, and knowledge through direct observation of the museum’s artists and artworks. At the same time, the association cards are downloadable and families can print them and incorporate them into their daily learning activities.
For 2021 we are aiming at creating a media lab in our education room to foster and promote inclusive art and tech digital workshops. These workshops will be inclusive for ASD and will focus on digital art, video games design and robotics.
The Education Department’s mission is to build a bridge between the Museo Moderno and society engaging all audiences in art and education, thus creating a socially diverse cultural community.
Our Community outreach program provides an interactive platform that helps visitors to expand their perspective, skills and background knowledge. Through different activities in and out of the museum, we offer a program tailored with inclusive experiences such as workshops, talks and visits. Our mission is to include and integrate children and teens with Autism in regular activities at the Museum. We want to lead the way and motivate other museums to be inclusive. The value in our innovation is:
- to create inclusive and integrated experiences
- to offer training to other museum educators
- to generate visibility and encourage other museums to follow our lead in creating inclusive programs
Within Argentina, there are no other cultural institutions carrying out ASD programs. In the museum, we started a pilot program in partnership with Fundación Brincar in 2017 to provide opportunities for groups of children and teens with Autism.
Before lockdown, they came on a Saturday morning with the museum closed and toured galleries and later attended a workshop in the education room. With Covid-19 the program shifted to digital activities that promote observation, increase vocabulary and relate to works of art. We design a series of activities; from drawing and creating to playful dress up, from videos and book recommendations to meditations and inclusive conversations. We've partnered with local artists to create videos and illustrations to support our community as well; to draw inspiration from works of art in the collection and in the museum's exhibits.
Special activities made for children with ASD during lockdown were recognized from different organizations worldwide. This allowed us to spread our program and reach a greater number of people, favoring our goal of incorporating more inclusive resources for different audiences.
Theory of Change
Our program focuses on creating opportunities for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. We have worked with organizations that support families with Autistic people. Our activities aim at integrating ASD children and teens and provide a framework to create more partnerships and motivate other institutions to join our lead. As a government-funded museum we are working hard to create many ways to make the museum experience easier and more enjoyable for families and children with disabilities. From guiding and assisting with the planning stages to providing extra resources for them to enjoy their visit.
The Moderno has created a national network of museums together with other 3 institutions where more than 100 museums joined during lockdown called RAME. We aim at developing workshops and meetings with education departments and other museum professionals to share our best practices.