Brattleboro Museum & Art Center receives $50,000 grant to improve accessibility

Vermont Business Magazine The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) received a $50,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Inspire! Grants Program for Small Museums”. The funding will support initiatives to improve digital and in-person accessibility, enabling people with a wide range of abilities and learning styles to participate in meaningful experiences at the museum.

A new, fully accessible BMAC website will make it easier to get information about exhibitions and events, and the museum’s online events will include real-time captioning. Museum visitors will be able to use assistive listening devices and iPads preloaded with videos of ASL translations of exhibit text. Audio tours and visual descriptions will be available. Children and adults will have access to sensory tools like noise canceling headphones and tactile materials. Live ASL interpretation will be available upon request at online events and at the museum.

“We are extremely grateful to IMLS,” said Kirsten Martsi, manager of the museum’s education and community engagement programs. “These changes are good for everyone. They will make it easier for people with and without disabilities to access our programs and exhibits. For me, this is a fundamental question of fairness. If we offer something, everyone should be able to participate. This funding is a catalyst that will allow us to launch these initiatives, and this is just the beginning of what we have planned.

The award is part of a total of $29,681,960 recently awarded by IMLS to museums across the country to help them improve services to their communities. “This year’s award winners demonstrate the continuous learning efforts of museums,” said Laura Huerta Migus, IMLS Deputy Director for the Office of Museum Services. “These projects reflect the application of lessons learned to revitalize museum practice and workforce while continuing to serve their communities.”

“On behalf of BMAC and all who will benefit from the accessibility improvements this grant will make possible, I thank the Vermont Congressional delegation, Sen. Leahy, Senator Sanders and Rep. Welch – for their unwavering support of IMLS, and the arts and accessibility in general,” said BMAC Director Danny Lichtenfeld. “They are huge advocates for the well-being of all Vermonters.”

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for libraries and museums nationwide. They advance, support, and empower museums, libraries, and related organizations in the United States through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Their vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center features rotating exhibitions of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings and other public programs. BMAC is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is on a pay-as-you-wish basis. Located in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142, the museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit brattleboromuseum.org.

BMAC is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Allen Bros. Oil, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Four Columns Inn, Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters and Whetstone Beer Co.