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Partner Highlight: Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, GA Develops New Tactile Exhibit "Layers of the Atmosphere"

May 31, 2022

Kimberly Novak

At the Museum of Arts and Sciences (MAS) in Macon, GA you can find a new tactile exhibit on the Layers of the Atmosphere and associated claymation video all designed, created, and performed by science and art students at the Georgia Academy for the Blind (GAB).

Tactile Layers of the Atmosphere Exhibit Signage
Tactile Layers of the Atmosphere Exhibit; photo credit: Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, GA
Tactile Layers of the Atmosphere Exhibit Piece
Tactile Layers of the Atmosphere Exhibit; photo credit: Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, GA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tactile Model of Orion
3-D printing of Orion; photo credit: Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, GA

With guidance from the NISE Network's Earth & Space Project-Based Professional Learning Community, MAS partnered with teachers Neel Bennett, Cheryl More, and Kristen Applebee from GAB to achieve a shared goal of increasing opportunities for greater awareness, understanding, and access for the visually impaired. 

As the project progressed a new partner, Matt Marone from Mercer University stepped in to help with creating and printing 3-D constellations for a special joint planetarium show, with Paul Fisher, for the visually impaired and the visually acute. There is a wonderful article detailing this written by Jennifer Falk.

Tactile Layers of the Atmosphere Exhibit - A Tactile Guide to the Solar System Framed Pages
Framed pages from NASA's "A Tactile Guild to the Solar System;" photo credit: Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, GA

 

David Hurd and Cassandra Runyon provided additional 3-D books, including the NASA tactile book A Tactile Guide to the Solar System in which a few of the touch pages were framed and remain mounted in front of the planetarium.

 

Normally, art work is not intended to be touched, however as part of a special event, several pieces were selected to share with GAB students with the guidance of Curator of Art, Megan McNaught. In addition, a special live animal show, with Animal Curator Sharron Cornacchione, was filled with touchable resources including snake skins, fur pelts, turtle shells, teeth, and more. 

 

Blind & Low vision students engaging with tactile models
Students engaging with a touchable snake skin as part of the live animal show; photo credit: Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, GA

For many of the high school students who visited the Museum from GAB this was their first experience at the museum. GAB has kindly used their braille machines to create labels for various science and art objects in the museum.  This is pointed out daily to visually acute school groups to increase awareness and open a dialogue. The hope is that not only will the visually impaired feel welcomed at the museum but that all visitors will leave with a better understanding of Earth and Space Science and the value we gain from being open to diversity and more inclusive to all.

Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon GA Layers of the Atmosphere exhibit tactile experiences for the blind
Visitors feeling tactile models; photo credit: Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon GA 
Layers of the Atmosphere - New Exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Sciences
Visitors feeling the Layers of the Atmosphere tactile exhibit; photo credit: Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon GA

Claymation Video

Georgia Academy for the Blind Art students made a claymation video of songs about the layers of the atmosphere, while Georgia Academy for the Blind Science students made a large tactile model representing the layers of the atmosphere. The model and this video were made for the Museum of Art and Science in Macon GA. Using sound and touch make science more accessible for museum visitors with visual impairments.

The second half of the video features students sharing their experiences during this project.

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