In Progress: Access and Museums

A group of children, some pushed in wheelchairs or using crutches, touches strands of an artwork hanging from the ceiling.
A visit to the MCA’s 1971 exhibition Jesus Raphael Soto by children from the Jane Neil School. Photo © MCA Chicago.


Participate in a conversation about museum access and inclusion with museum workers and academics from a range of Chicago institutions. Along with representatives from the MCA, panelists include Michael Christano of the Smart Museum, Kris Nesbitt of the Shedd Aquarium, and Carrie Sandahl of University of Illinois at Chicago.

In Progress is a new series of public programs that gives visitors a glimpse into the working practices of artists, curators, and creative thinkers.


About the Speakers

Michael Christiano, Deputy Director for Audience Engagement and Public Practice at the Smart Museum of Art, develops strategies and programs that reflect on the nature of the museum’s institutional practice, with a particular focus on education, interpretation, engagement, hospitality, communications installation strategy, and other key issues. Working in collaboration with University of Chicago departments and community partners, Christiano is exploring new models for how an urban research university can enhance K–12 arts education. He is also responsible for the development of a museum-wide strategy for public practice—grounded in hospitality—to help audiences connect deeply with art and ideas. Christiano was previously the curator of education at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He has also held education positions at the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. He received an MA in museum education from the University of the Arts and a BA in art history with a museum studies minor from SUNY Oswego.

Kris Nesbitt is Senior Director of Exhibits and Experience Development at Shedd Aquarium, and initiated and spearheaded Shedd’s award-winning Accessibility and Inclusion initiative.

Carrie Sandahl, PhD, is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago where she founded and directs the Program on Disability Art, Culture, and Humanities. She also directs Chicago’s Bodies of Work, an arts consortium that supports disability culture. Her research focuses on disability identity in live performance. Sandahl’s anthology coedited with Philip Auslander, Bodies in Commotion: Disability and Performance (University of Michigan Press), garnered ATHE’s award for Outstanding Book in Theatre Practice and Pedagogy in 2006. She is currently collaborating on a documentary film about Hollywood representations of disability, Code of the Freaks.


This program has been made possible by the generous contributors to the Allen M. Turner Tribute Fund, honoring his past leadership as Chairman of the MCA Board of Trustees.