The Walker Art Center’s Open Door Accessibility Initiatives program focuses on making all tour and art-making experiences welcoming and inclusive. Below is a listing of accessible program opportunities for visitors of all ages.
Contemporary Journeys: A Program for People with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias
Contemporary Journeys is the Walker Art Center’s tour and art-making program for individuals with early- to middle-stage Alzheimer’s and other dementias, their care partners, family, and friends. Participants connect to art and each other through conversational tours that tap multiple senses and art labs that introduce myriad ways of seeing the world. Contemporary art becomes the catalyst for community building, self-expression, and appreciating the present. The program was created in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association of Minnesota-North Dakota, the Goodman Group, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Contemporary Journeys experiences are made available in two ways: groups can schedule a tour or art lab in advance according to their needs, or individuals can register for the Walker’s regularly scheduled Contemporary Journeys morning program, which takes place on the last Wednesday of each month from 10 to 11:30 am, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 612.375.7609. Experiences alternate each month between tours and art labs. Visit the Contemporary Journeys calendar listing for specific event details.
For groups scheduling private experiences, please note that tours and art labs can accommodate up to 5 visitors with Alzheimer’s/dementia. Group sizes should not exceed 10 people (up to 5 visitors with Alzheimer’s/dementia plus care partners, family, and friends). Senior residences and day camps are encouraged to schedule private experiences.
To read a study of Contemporary Journeys’ effect on program participants and their care partners completed by Dr. Joseph Gaugler, associate professor and McKnight Presidential Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing, Center on Aging, Center for Gerontological Nursing, please inquire at 612.375.7609.
During touch tours, an experienced tour guide leads participants through the Walker’s collection with hands-on exploration of the artwork. All participants receive a pair of gloves, allowing them to feel a variety of sculptures while discussing the works’ media, historical contexts, artists, etc. Tour guides also incorporate visual descriptions on most touch tours. We are unable to provide touch tours for special exhibitions, as many of the objects in these exhibitions are not owned by the Walker. Touch tours may be requested for the galleries or the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Touch tours can accommodate one to four participants and may be a combination of people with visual impairments and sighted people.
Visual Description Guided Tours
During visual description tours, specially trained tour guides lead participants through the Walker’s collection, a special exhibition, or the museum’s architecture using words to describe the visual world. Designed to enable visitors who are blind or have low vision to form a mental image of the works, visual description tours include details about the artist and a general overview of the work—going from the whole to the particular, considering composition and subject matter—as well as a description of medium, technique, and style and a mental sketch of how a piece is installed in a gallery to offers an overall impression of the exhibition space. Questions and discussion are encouraged as part of the experience. Visual description tours are generally planned around a theme. Occasionally, models, props, or other tactile objects and sounds are incorporated into the tours to enhance particular works of art. Visual description tours provide a wonderful opportunity for accessing special exhibitions as well as the Walker’s collections and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Visual description tours can accommodate one to eight participants—the number of people with visual impairments in a group may not exceed four. Please indicate how many sighted guides your group will require, if desired, when booking your tour.
Visual Description Audio Tours
The Walker, in consultation with its community access advisory group, has launched a series of visual description audio tour stops for selected works in the exhibition Midnight Party and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. These tour stops are available through Art on Call, the Walker’s free audio guide accessible by phone, mobile device, or computer. For the individual stop numbers, please visit the blog A New Art on Call Tour that Focuses on Deep Description.
American Sign Language Interpretation
ASL interpretation is available for selected events and can be arranged for any Walker event with at least two weeks advance notice. Interpreters are also available for guided gallery tours and Art Lab experiences when requested at least four weeks in advance. The free public tour at 2 pm on the first Saturday of the month is ASL interpreted.
Tours and Art Labs for Individuals with Cognitive and Learning Disabilities
Exhibitions and art-making experiences come to life on guided tours designed for visitors with cognitive and learning disabilities. Walker staff and volunteers have developed innovative approaches to making the art of today accessible to all through ongoing training and community partnerships.
Large Print / Braille
Large-print labels are available for exhibitions and can be requested from the gallery monitor at any time. Large-print and Braille visitor guides are available at the lobby desk.
There are other amenities that may make your group’s tour or art lab activities more complete. Assistive listening devices, gallery stools, and wheel chairs are available onsite. In addition, we are happy to work with you to accommodate the needs of your group and welcome your comments and feedback at any time.
Walker Tour Programs are sponsored by United Health Foundation.