Tea Time Tour

Organization Associated with Program
The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10128

A Tea Time Tour is an opportunity for visitors with either hearing or visual impairments to experience an exhibition at the Jewish Museum (New York) with the help of a verbal descriptive tour or a sign interpreted tour. Visitors are then invited to participate in an art-making activity related to the exhibition and later to enjoy light refreshments with museum staff. The art-making session is a way for the visitor to relate their experience in the museum galleries to their personal experience, and it encourages them to reflect on the themes and expressions that have been discussed during the program. The program serves 60-70 visitors each year.

Program History

The Jewish Museum is dedicated to the enjoyment, understanding, and preservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of the Jewish people through its unparalleled collections, distinguished exhibitions, and related education programs. Using art and artifacts that embody the diversity of the Jewish experience from ancient to present times, the museum strives to be a source of inspiration and shared human values for people of all religious and cultural backgrounds while serving as a special touchstone of identity for Jewish people. A vital cultural resource for New York residents and visitors of all ages, the museum also reaches out to national and international communities as it interprets and preserves art and Jewish culture for current and future generations. The Jewish Museum was founded in 1904 in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where it was housed for four decades. In 1944 it was moved to the family mansion of Frieda Warburg, widow of seminary trustee Felix Warburg, where it has remained since.

The Tea Time Tour program has been offered to the community since 2003 and was developed in response to a growing demand for programs that engage people with different needs. It offers a gallery tour of either a special exhibition or the permanent exhibition and allows visitors to socialize in a comfortable and quiet environment. The New York area museum visitors who live with disabilities are a close-knit group, and the museum has been fortunate to welcome diverse communities with disabilities who hear about the program through mailings, word of mouth, and direct calls to organizations that work with them.

Program Assessments and Evaluations

The program is evaluated once at the end of each session by staff through the use of individual assessments and one-on-one conversations with participants. The feedback received is subsequently used to make improvements.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

A variety of accessibility programs that the Jewish Museum hosts, including the Tea Time Tour, has enabled the staff to reach out and develop relevant programs that interest the community while also introducing the museum to diverse populations that may not be familiar with its exhibitions and programming. Creating these types of program in your arts organization may also attract people who have never experienced your organization’s ongoing activities.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Viewing Artwork
Arts Discipline: Museums, Visual Arts
Interdisciplinary Connections: Education
Target Audience: Active Adults
Adaptive Program Design Hearing Disabilities, Visual Disabilities
Program Setting: Arts Organization
Program Service Area: Urban
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice