Future Reflections         Summer 2009

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From the Editor:  "We're planning a family outing. We want to be sure our blind child can fully enjoy the experience along with his sighted siblings. Where's a good place to go?" Sooner or later this question seems to come up whenever parents of blind children get together. To the best of my knowledge there is currently no guide or Website that rates museums, historic sites, and other places of interest according to their accessibility to blind and visually impaired visitors. This issue of Future Reflections inaugurates a new feature called "Family Fun." In each issue we will review a possible destination for a family outing or class field trip, looking at it from the perspective of a blind visitor.

I welcome your feedback and your ideas! If you would like to tell readers about a place that your family has enjoyed, please contact me at <[email protected]>.



The Morris Museum
6 Normandy Heights Road
Morristown, New Jersey 07960-4612
(973) 971-3700

Back in the days before CD's and MP3 players, music on demand was a rare and precious commodity. As early as the sixteenth century inventors created ingenious music boxes and other devices that poured forth song at the touch of a button or the twist of a key. In 2003 the Morris Museum became the proud owner of the Murtogh D. Guinness Collection, including nearly seven hundred mechanical music boxes and other automated marvels. The collection, the life work of an heir to the Guinness family fortune, is on display in a 4300-square-foot gallery on the museum's main floor. At 2 p.m. from Wednesday through Sunday, visitors are invited to a lecture/demonstration of some of the collection's wonders.

Docents are open to letting blind visitors touch several of the devices that are shown, although many are deemed too fragile. Even without as much hands-on exploration as one might wish, the lecture is fascinating, illustrated with many audible examples. Throughout the gallery itself are numerous stations where visitors can listen through headphones to the popular music of our forebears as it is rendered by an array of mechanical musical devices. Several hands-on exhibits show the workings of a typical roller music box, where hammers produce notes by striking pins arranged in a pattern on a turning cylinder. Two Rube-Goldberg-type sculptures, also available for tactile exploration, show the complicated workings of gears and pulleys, the underpinnings of the collection's musical wizardry. Unfortunately everything in the museum's Children's Room, American Indian Collection, and other exhibit areas is behind glass. But the Guinness Collection will provide an afternoon of fun and learning for the whole family, blind and sighted alike. To find out more, visit <www.morrismuseum.org/collections/guinness/guinness.html>, where you can hear audio samples of some of the collection's offerings.

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