Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Deas' ideas

A few years after his retirement, the former curator of the Sunderland Museum in Sunderland, U.K., had a brilliant notion. Beginning in 1913, John Alfred Charlton Deas arranged for the children from the Sunderland Council Blind School to handle a few of the collections, which included zoological specimens, sculptures and vases, antique armor and weapons, and skeletons (IMAGES HERE). The sessions were held when the museum was closed to the public, but docents provided information aloud and local experts expanded that with lectures. The children's teacher wrote, "With minds better stored than their predecessors, they ought to be keener observers, better workers and more intelligent citizens." Although the sessions were not widely imitated by other museums at the time, they were popular enough in Sunderland to extend them to blind adults. Let's hope they each were allowed to touch both ends of the walrus above or they may have brought a nursery rhyme to life!

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