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May 17th, 2012
Museum Exhibition of Art by Blind Students Celebrates 40 Years of Innovative Accesibility Program

(May 18, 2012—Media Opportunity at 12:00-1:30 p.m.)

(Philadelphia, PA)—Form in Art, an art program for visually impaired adults, celebrates its 40th anniversary at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with an exhibition opening and graduation party on Friday, May 18 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., with a private tour and interview opportunities at 12 p.m. Members of the media are invited to preview the installation in the Education Corridor and speak with some of the 30-plus Form in Art students. The installation, which celebrates the program’s 40th anniversary, contains bold sculpture, portraiture, and vessels. With its focus on the permanent collection and special exhibitions, Form in Art continues to provide an innovative program for visually impaired people, incorporating touch tours in the galleries, time in the studio, and more. Form in Art encourages artistic development and personal growth, serving as a model for professionals working with visually impaired adults. Founded in 1971 as a joint project by the Women’s Committee and the Education Department at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Form in Art is the first course for blind adults to be offered at an American museum.

The program also introduces students to the ways in which talking about art can open new avenues for communication. “Every Friday we get together and share ideas, techniques, personal experiences, and a few laughs,” says Michael Gieschen, Form in Art student. “Together we help each other understand our gifts and to reach our greatest potential as artists and as people.”

Today, up to fifty blind students meet at the Museum one day a week for two semesters per year. They participate in touch and visual description tours of the permanent collection with Museum Guides, hear lectures by guest speakers, receive instruction and inspiration from professional artists who act as their studio instructors, and work in the studio with a variety of materials, including paper maché, ceramics, acrylic paint, and found objects. At the end of each year, an exhibition of student work is held at the Museum. Over the years, this exhibition has travelled to such locations as the Nevil Gallery at the University of Pennsylvania, the Tom Gallery of Touchable Art in Kobe, Japan, and the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, which has hosted the annual exhibition for the last 24 years.

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We are Philadelphia’s art museum. A landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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