Form in Art PMA

Form in Art

Organization Associated with Program
Philadelphia Museum of Art
P.O. Box 7646
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19101

Form in Art is a combined art history and studio art course for legally blind adults. It allows people who are blind to participate in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and its programs, to learn about the visual arts in general and about the museum's permanent collections and special exhibitions in particular. It also enables participants to enhance that learning and find a means of self-expression by creating their own works of art. The program provides participants with an opportunity to socialize with other people who are blind as well as with the museum staff and volunteers.

The program serves 50 legally blind adults per year. Participants meet for two hours once a week for 26 weeks a year. Participants vary greatly in age (30-93), artistic experience, and cultural backgrounds. They go on visual description and touch tours of selected original objects in the museum's permanent collections with museum guides in the galleries. In the education studios, two practicing local artist/instructors and about 25 volunteers help participants with four to six assigned projects each year. Participants work with a variety of materials and techniques, including but not limited to, clay, glazes, papier mâché, wood, metal, fabrics, paint, and plaster. Each year culminates in an exhibition of the participants’ art works in the education corridor gallery (which gets heavy traffic of museum visitors from the adjacent public café and restaurant as well as staff from many museum departments). The exhibit then usually travels to one or more other venues. The Museum also assists with transportation for most of the participants.

Program History

Form in Art marked its 40th anniversary in 2012. The program was launched in 1971 in response to requests from organizations serving people who are blind to create arts programming for the visually impaired. The program has held exhibits at the Wills Eye Institute for the past 24 years.

Program Assessments and Evaluations

Form in Art is evaluated by staff, participants, and partner organizations multiple times throughout each year through the use of interviews, attendance records, surveys, and observation.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Start small and have an audience in mind when first beginning your program. Listen to your audience and be flexible. Also, find a network of people and organizations that do similar things and learn from them.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Exhibiting Artwork, Viewing Artwork, Participate in a Class
Arts Discipline: Visual Arts
Target Audience: Intergenerational
Adaptive Program Design Visual Disabilities
Program Setting: Arts Organization
Program Service Area: Urban
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice