JMZ Recognized by the Kennedy Center and Friends' Fall Events

September 12, 2023

Hello Friends,

I’m delighted to share that the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo has been recognized for its work to make the new museum and zoo accessible and inclusive to children and caregivers with disabilities. The JMZ recently won the Community Asset Award from the Kennedy Center’s Leadership Exchange in the Arts and Disability program. You can read more about this important recognition below, and about the JMZ’s accessibility efforts in this article

The fall will be a busy and exciting time at the JMZ. The California Dinosaur Garden will open to the public in early October. This immersive and interactive exhibit was made possible thanks to generous donations from our donor community and a grant awarded to the JMZ by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

On Friday, October 27, the Friends will host our popular Halloween at the JMZ! event, with proceeds going to the Friends’ Annual Giving Fund. Tickets will be available for purchase on Eventbrite on Thursday, September 28.

Finally, I hope you will join the Friends on Friday, September 15 from 1 - 2 p.m. to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. JMZ Zookeepers Juan and Jasmin will introduce a few surprise animal guests and answer questions about their jobs in both English and Spanish.

Lauren Angelo

President, Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

JMZ Recognized by the The Kennedy Center with the Community Asset Award

Questions for JMZ Exhibits Director, Tina Keegan

What is the Kennedy Center’s Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) program? Can you share more about the conference?

The Kennedy Center’s LEAD program encourages and advocates for the inclusion of people with disabilities in arts and culture spaces. LEAD events and conferences allow professionals to exchange ideas about best practices for accessibility work. In total, around 900 people were at the conference this year, allowing us to network and build rapport with other organizations who are committed to access and inclusion.

This year, I attended the conference with former Accessibility Coordinator, Lisa Eriksen, and one of our advisors, Susan Glass, who have both played crucial roles in making the JMZ more accessible. The Friends of the JMZ funds professional development for JMZ staff, including this conference, and are committed to creating a more accessible and inclusive JMZ.

Along with a representative from an art museum and another from a theater, I presented on how we train our staff on creating a welcoming and inclusive experience. Staff training is ongoing, and so, we have implemented strategies to periodically remind our staff about all the wonderful accessibility supports at the JMZ.

Photo from the award ceremony. From left to right: Betty Siegal (Director of Office of Accessibility and VSA at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), Tina Keegan, Lisa Eriksen, Susan Glass.

Tell us about the Community Asset Award. 

Every year, the LEAD Awards recognize outstanding organizations and leaders whose dedication to accessibility and the inclusion of people with disabilities should be looked at as an example in the field. The Community Asset Award celebrates the success of organizations and people that continually demonstrate success with access initiatives, improving accessibility in their organization, city, state or region. We were among four recipients of the award this year. 

Recipients must display that they have made significant contributions to accessibility work over at least five years. In addition, the body of work must be a comprehensive project that recognizes diversity within the disability community.

Why did the JMZ make the decision to apply for the Community Asset Award?

For 13 years, we have worked to improve accessibility at the JMZ. In 2017, we were awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for a project called Access from the Ground Up, which aimed to increase the inclusion of people with disabilities at the JMZ. While creating the exhibits for the rebuilt JMZ, our exhibits team consulted with the Accessibility Advisory Committee for thoughtful ideas on how to create a positive experience for people of all abilities. Last year, a summative evaluation was completed of this project, and its success has been presented multiple times at different conferences. 

We decided to apply for the Community Asset Award so that we could inspire other organizations to learn more about creating inclusive arts and culture spaces. Our work over the past 13 years is important. As we continue learning, we felt like the opportunity to apply for this award would tie us to other leaders who are committed to this work.

Earn Volunteer Hours!

Help us with the most popular Halloween event in town, Halloween at the JMZ! on Friday, October 27, between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. We need volunteers to help us with set up, decorations, treat stations, entertainment, and clean up. To apply, fill out your contact information on our Google Form. Pizza will be provided! Must be at least 15 years old to volunteer.

Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

info@friendsjmz.org | www.friendsjmz.org


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