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Excellence & Equity

The landmark report that affirms the contributions museums make to the educational needs of the nation. The report helps museums define their educational mission and focus on serving the public, especially with regard to culturally diverse audiences. 

Education & Interpretation


Addressing the Needs of Kids with Autism

In this March/April 2011 article from Museum magazine Lisa Jo Rudy provides tips for accessibility and inclusivity for children with autism and their families. The article covers training, preparation, communication, and special events. (PDF, 12 pages)

Audio Description Project

An Initiative of the American Council of the Blind, provides detailed instruction on how to develop a true audio description, or describing the actual object, rather than addressing its creator or history.  

Clear Print Accessibility Guidelines

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) shares this useful set of guidelines for print accessibility. (PDF, 24 pages)

Dementia Toolkit for Small Museums

The UK Museums Association shares the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery Dementia Toolkit based on a research project with the Alzheimer's Society in West Kent, and Canterbury Christ Church University. (PDF, 25 pages)

Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Office for AccessAbility and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies provide a resource on how to plan and design for accessibility. You can download the PDF on the NEA website.

Effective Communication for People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Noted hearing access consultant, Janice Lintz, provides this easy to use guide to help organizations better meet the needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design

The Smithsonian Institution shares its Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design which offers information on lighting, color, typography, and circulation routes for exhibits and public programming space. 

Handbook for Museum Educators

Art Beyond Sight offers a free Handbook for Museums and Educators.

Increasing Accessibility for Visitors Who are Visually Impaired

This article from the AASLH blog provides 3 quick and simple solutions to help small museums increase accessibility for visitors who are visually impaired.

Making Your Meetings Deaf-Friendly

A workshop in advance of a National Association of the Deaf conference shows how meeting and hospitality professionals can improve their Deaf-friendly customer service.

Programmatic Accessibility Guidelines for National Park Service Interpretive Media

The National Park Service provides numerous Accessibility resources including guidelines for interpretive media. 

Programming for People with Special Needs

This publication, available on the Association for State and Local History (AASLH) website, features the seven key components of creating effective programming for people with special needs, especially elementary and secondary students with intellectual disabilities.

Resources for Visitors on the Autism Spectrum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) provides a number of resources for visitors on the autism spectrum specifically related to touring the museum. Included in this resource are social narratives and visual checklists.

Serving Diverse Needs of Communities

The Alliance provides information explaining how to manage and overcome expenditure barriers in order to create and ensure accessibility at small to mid-sized museums. This session handout explores the cost of different accessible programs including those for visitors who have vision impairments, dementia and other disabilities. (PDF, 6 pages)

Take a Seat

In this September/October 2008 Museum magazine article, Steve Tokar explores visitor comfort and navigability in the museum through; seating, labels, lighting, and open captioning.

Visitor Voices

In this September/October 2015 Museum magazine article, Annie Leist, Sheri Levinsky-Raskin, and Barbara Johnson Stemler discuss how museums can better collaborate with visitors. (PDF, 7 pages)

Visitors With Vision Loss

In this July/August 2012 Museum magazine article, Nina Levent and Christine Reich provide insight on getting feedback about accessibility of programming, exhibits, and facilities, through focus groups. (PDF, 4 pages)

Going Beyond: What Does Universal Design Look Like?

In this March/April 2011 Museum magazine article, adapted from an Alliance webinar, experts explore the history, fundamentals, and seven principles of universal design and its application to museum programming. (PDF, 10 pages)

Audience Research

Building Cultural Audiences - Know Your Audience

The Alliance and the Wallace Foundation provide a number of resources related to building arts and cultural audiences in this online feature. The site focuses on three elements, knowing your audience, aligning your organization, and reaching your audience.

Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums

The Center for the Future of Museums commissioned this study from the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago. The paper explores the majority-minority future of America and issues a call to action for museums to better serve their rapidly diversifying communities. (PDF, 42 pages)

Focus Group for Visitors with Low Vision or Blindness

Art Beyond Sight provides resources for conducting a focus group of visitors with low vision or blindness including a script and sample questionnaire.

Exhibit Planning and Design

Developing Accessible Touchscreen Interactives

This Exhibitionist article from NAME (an Alliance Professional Network) includes tips for designing inclusive digital interactives. (PDF, 6 pages)

The Danger of a Single Story

In this TEDTalk, novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

Honoring Experience

The blog, The Empathetic Museum, published a post about the Eastern State Penitentiary Museum's Prisons Today exhibit and how battling implicit bias helped the organization develop an exhibit that encapsulates how an empathetic museum acts. 

Nothing About Us Without Us

In this January/February 2016 article from Museum magazine, Sheri Levinsky-Raskin and Greg Stevens reflect on inclusive practices at cultural institutions. (PDF, 7 pages)

We Must Decolonize Our Museums

Recorded at TEDxDirigo in November 2016, Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko shares the urgency of museum decolonizing practices and offers three ways to approach the decolonization of museums. 

Learning in Museums

Visual Thinking Strategies Research

Visual Thinking Strategies shares research focused on aesthetic and cognitive development that results from interaction with art.

Public Programs

Chicago Children's Museum LGBTQ Pride Events

The Chicago Children's Museum provides a number of programs and resources for LGBTQ communities.

Creative Aging

The Center for the Future of Museums TrendsWatch from 2012 includes an item on developing programs for senior citizens.(PDF, 28 pages - see page 17)

Excellence & Equity: Then, Now, Next

In this webinar series the Alliance explores the important public dimension of museums through the lens of the landmark Excellence and Equity: Education and the Public Dimension of Museums publication.

Family-Inclusive Language

This helpful chart from Margaret Middleton provides an easy to use resource to help better use family-inclusive language. As printed in the January/February 2016 Museum magazine. (PDF)

Fostering Empathy Through Museums

Fostering Empathy Through Museums, available through Rowman & Littlefield, features fifteen case studies illustrating differing approaches to how museums are employing empathy. 

Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites

The Association for State and Local History (AASLH) published Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites, available to purchase from Rowman & Littlefield. A straightforward, accessible guidebook for museum and history professionals.

Interpreting Native American History and Culture

Interpreting Native American History and Culture at Museums and Historic Sites, available through Rowman & Littlefield, features ideas and suggested best practices for the staff and board of museums that care for collections of Native material culture, and who work with Native American culture, history, and communities.

Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites

Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites, available through Rowman & Littlefield, aims to move the field forward in its collective conversation about the interpretation of slavery.

Interpretive Facilitator's Toolkit

The National Park Service shares this "starter kit" of resources to help institutions develop and hone skills as interpretive facilitators.

LGBTQ Heritage Theme Study

The Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) presents Next Practices in Diversity and Inclusion, a compendium of 51 submissions from AAMD’s membership exploring a wide range of ways that art museums are striving to become more diverse and inclusive places, both inside and out.

Living Homes  for Cultural Expression North American Native Perspectives on Creating Community Museums

In this Editions publication from the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), editors Karen Coody Cooper and Nicolasa I. Sandoval assembled stories—from an Alutiiq community on Alaska’s Kodiak Island to Hopi people in Arizonas—that speak to the concerns and aspirations that unite indigenous peoples in the lands known now as the Americas.(PDF, 121 pages)

The MoMA Alzheimer's Project: Making Art Accessible to People with Dementia

This guide from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) details how museums can establish programs for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers.

Responsive and Accessible: How Museums are Using Research to Better Engage Diverse Cultural Communities

Cecilia Garibay, discusses how museums are using research to better engage diverse audiences in this January/February 2011 ASTC Dimensions post.

Strengthening Immigrant Voices through Museum–Community College Partnerships

In this Winter 2013 volume of Diversity & Democracy (a journal of the Association of American Colleges and Universities), Margot Edlin, Patricia Lannes and Kitty Bateman discuss how they used an IMLS grant to fund CALTA21, a model initiative Lannes developed to bring English language learning into the museum setting.