Museum's Touch Tour Program to Receive Award

Penn Museum Earns Arts Accessibility Award for Touch
Tours Program to Welcome Blind, Low-Vision Guests

art-reachPhiladelphia-based arts accessibility organization Art-Reach has named the Penn Museum one of its 2014 Commitment to Cultural Access Award recipients. Each year, Art-Reach honors organizations or individuals in Greater Philadelphia who are doing extraordinary work in the area of accessibility. The award is being bestowed as the Museum concludes the second year of its Touch Tour program for blind and low-vision guests. The award will be presented at Art-Reach's 2014 Commitment to Cultural Access Awards Celebration Thursday, April 24, 6:00 - 8:00 pm in the Penn Museum's Lower Egyptian (Sphinx) Gallery. Tickets are still available for the public to attend. 


The Museum launched its "Insights into Ancient Egypt" Touch Tour program in 2012 to serve blind and low-vision guests of all ages throughout the Delaware Valley. What makes the program unique is that it offers participants special permission to touch the ancient artifacts.

Key program enhancements for 2013 drew national media attention from the Associated Press. The Museum expanded the Touch Tour from one to two hours to include a classroom component with tactile diagrams (raised line diagrams), opportunities to smell some of the oils used in mummification, pre-visit outreach sessions at various sites to prepare visitors, an art-in-response component, and recruiting members of the low-vision community to serve as assistant docents. The central gallery experience—exploring through touch several stone objects on display—continued with new pieces and specially made replicas. After removing rings and using sanitized hand wipes to remove oils, participants were encouraged to touch a seated statue of Ramesses II, the Goddess Sekhmet, and two sarcophagus lids, all found in the third floor Egyptian gallery.

The Penn Museum incorporated the enhancements in response to focus groups and feedback from low and no-vision guests requesting more information, educational opportunities, and even outlets for artistic expression.

Another 2014 Commitment to Cultural Access Award recipient is STAMP: The Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Teen Program of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance. The STAMP program ensures free admittance to Philadelphia teenagers to 12 museums across the city, including the Penn Museum.

Both the Museum and the STAMP program will be honored at Art-Reach's 2014 Commitment to Cultural Access Awards Celebration Thursday, April 24, 6:00 - 8:00 pm in the Penn Museum's Lower Egyptian (Sphinx) Gallery.

Individual tickets to Art-Reach's 2014 Commitment to Cultural Access Awards are $100.00. Proceeds benefit Art-Reach's efforts to provide arts and cultural experiences to more than 17,000 individuals each year of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.

To purchase tickets or to make a donation, click here

Watch the Associated Press' video coverage of the Touch Tours program

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