Innovative Practice 2018 on Accessibility

Collaboration among museums in the Balkans to develop accessibility

The Balkan Museum Access Group (BMAG) is a peer-learning group of individuals that work in the museums of six countries in the Balkan region. Funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, BMAG is committed to developing their accessibility knowledge and to implementing accessibility features in their own museums, supported by two disability consultants and a three-year training programme.

“They removed barriers for us, and let us live the culture in our everyday life”

Mirsad ĐulbićA board member of the Association of Paraplegics and Poliomyelitis from the Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Collaboration among museums in the Balkans to develop accessibility
Organisation:Balkan Museum Access Group
Country
of Implementation
Balkan region (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia)

FACTS & FIGURES

  • 11 small inclusive projects funded since 2015.
  • 150 persons with disabilities have attended accessible museum projects

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Persons with disabilities often find it difficult to enjoy museums in the Balkan region due to a lack of accessibility features, resulting from inadequate budgets as well as a low level of knowledge and skills on the part of museum staff regarding accessibility and inclusion.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

The Balkan Museum Access Group is a collection of nine professionals working in museums in six countries in the Balkan region (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia Greece, FYR Macedonia, and Serbia). BMAG is a permanent working group of the Balkan Museum Network (BMN) that provides support to BMAG and its members. Members of the group focus on increasing their own knowledge and capacities on accessibility issues, supported by two international disability consultants in charge of running a comprehensive capacity-building programme.
BMAG members meet formally approximately three times per year to share good practices in museum accessibility and inclusion, and then take those ideas back to discuss and implement in their own museums. BMAG members are also invited to consult colleagues in other museums. In addition, innovations and ideas are shared through closed social media groups, video calls, and online document repositories.
A group of people giving a presentation.
As of summer 2017, individuals within BMAG were undergoing a three-year theoretical and practical training programme to learn about accessibility so as to implement new features and projects in their museums. Since 2015, BMN member museums have successfully received funding for 11 small projects – each including accessibility features, and most including persons with disabilities as co-creators. Projects that BMAG have supported include practical workshops in art pottery for persons with and without disabilities at the Museum of Tešanj, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Braille guides and tactile maps at the Homeland Museum of Knjaževac, Serbia; and guided museum visits titled “It’s forbidden not to touch” for blind people at the National Historical Museum in Tirana, Albania.

OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING

As of late 2017, BMAG will begin conducting accessibility surveys to identify, prioritize, and remove barriers, thereby increasing accessibility in each museum. Improved accessibility measures already being planned include production of 3D models of exhibits at Public Institution Zenica City Museum, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and touch tours and handling sessions at the National Historical Museum of Greece.
Elderly people at a pottery workshop.BMAG is funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, a Greek-based philanthropic organization that provides hundreds of grants around the world on topics including arts and culture. The grant funds a larger programme implemented by Foundation Cultural Heritage without Borders in Bosnia and Herzegovina named “Crafting Access,” which seeks to build capacity for heritage and craft-based inclusion across the Western Balkans. Around 10 per cent of the programme’s 390,000 Euro budget covering 2015 to 2018 is designated for BMAG.
FACTSHEET

Download factsheet as accessible Word
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VIDEO

Watch Video of the Zero Project Award Ceremony
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LINKS AND FURTHER READING