With the summer drawing to a close and the new school year under way, I did what most educators do and took a trip on Labor Day to have one last hurrah. Inspired by my recent discovery of Blown Away, the reality glass-blowing competition on Netflix, I decided to travel to Corning, NY, to visit the Corning Museum of Glass. The museum was everything I like in a museum: learning, beauty, and bold moves towards Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. It appears that museums understand the need to be committed to creating spaces that are accessible to as many people as they can. They do this, not because a legal document tells them they must, but because they understand that creating a place of welcome benefits the climate of the entire space. I, as an individual, didn’t really need any of the accommodations the museum was offering to the public, but it warmed my heart to be in a place that was providing the support for those who may.
Let’s explore the efforts made by the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG):
- After checking in at the front desk and getting tickets, I noticed this display nearby that attempted to make the experience enjoyable for people with sensory needs and colorblindness:
- a sensory backpack, which included fidgets, weighted blankets, and noise-reducing earmuffs
- a pair of Encroma Color Blind Glasses, which allow people who are colorblind to see color by creating more contrast.
As I continued walking, two steps further and my phone was back out.
The Mission Statement of CMOG in all its glory, painted on a wall! “At this museum, diversity, equity, and inclusion are priorities shaping our future.” Melt… So the first move I noticed wasn’t a happy find, it was an intentional move. A move that is helping a museum meet its mission. Now I was on the hunt to find more.
Move number three was noticed in the making studio where you could blow glass. Unfortunately, the class was sold out and I couldn’t get in on the action, but check out this friendly sign…
Move number four was spotted on the walk back into the museum on the path back from the studios. It was a welcome sign that was in many different languages.
Move five was spotted in the gallery with featured art making us reflect on the gendered terms used in the medium. For example, the tool used for shaping the glass is called “Jacks,” so they suggested we call them “Jills.”
Move number six, pictured above, was my personal favorite. It was at a station where guests could suggest a design that would be made in front of the audience in a making session. Participants were encouraged to draw a design and create a caption of what was depicted. One of the designs was created in glass during the 3pm show. I loved the engagement this station brought to the museum. It transforms a place that typically has little to no interaction with patrons (because, you know, glass breaks), into a place that not only allows guest interaction, but openly encourages it. If that isn’t a well-intentioned design, it is a wonderful mistake.
All in all, I highly recommend a visit to Corning, and I invite anyone reading this to think about the steps you can take in your own capacity to bring inclusion to the forefront this year. Have a wonderful year and if you need a thought partner, please reach out to our office for support!