Striking the Balance: Access vs. Preservation in Museums


Event details


Museum of the American Revolution

101 South Third Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Innovative educational strategies have revolutionized how art and artifacts are presented to diverse audiences, as a variety of communication styles and learning preferences are considered. Programs that incorporate touch experience, adaptive exhibition environments, and interactive digital encounters relay the story for all. Even the work of conservators and museum professionals may be presented as part of the storytelling, as creative approaches to accessibility and collections care evolve. Yet, these approaches may seem at odds with preservation. The need for accessibility in museums requires a delicate balance between preservation and making materials available and understandable to a large audience with diverse needs. Strategies for promoting access with responsible stewardship is the focus of this conference.

This two-day conference includes the opportunity to explore interactive exhibits and a new special exhibition, Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier, at the Museum of the American Revolution.

Topics include:

  • Touch programs with preservation handling
  • ADA considerations in house museums
  • Conservation on exhibit
  • Digitization for accessibility
  • Sensory sensitivity and visitor experience
  • Giving access to university museum students

About the Exhibit

Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier 
September 28, 2019 through February 17, 2020
What can a life tell us about an era? Follow the untold story of Richard St. George, an Irish soldier and artist, whose personal trauma and untimely death provide a window into the entangled histories of the American Revolution and the ensuing bloody Irish Revolution of 1798. St. George's tragic journey will be brought to life through rare portraits and historical artifacts – reunited for the first time – from Ireland, England, Australia, and the United States. St. George’s own artwork, including sketches and cartoons, and also paintings he commissioned after surviving a severe head wound at the Battle of Germantown, reveal the physical and emotional toll of war and revolution. The exhibition will assemble one of the largest collections of objects from Ireland’s 18th-century revolutionary history and war for independence ever displayed in Philadelphia.


$275 - CCAHA Members

$300 - Non-members

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Funding for this program has been generously provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from the Independence Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Philadelphia Cultural Fund, and the William Penn Foundation.