19 museums in Bavaria have set out to create stimulating offers for people with impairments. The Franconian Open Air Museum in Bad Windsheim is a representative of the network known as “Museen inklusive”. We looked around
Accessible museums in Bavaria - The network "Museen inklusive"
Audio guides for visually impaired visitors, special offers for the deaf, brochures in a simplified language and exhibitions that stimulate all the senses: These are all offers that make it possible for holidaymakers with impairments to experience museums to the fullest. Much of this also benefits all the other guests.
In Bavaria, 19 museums have joined forces to form the “Museen inklusive” network, in order to make real progress together in this endeavour. We met Eva-Maria Papini at the Franconian Open Air Museum in Bad Windsheim. The pedagogical specialist for museums has been working on the topic for a long time and has implemented many great ideas in Bad Windsheim.
She discovered her enthusiasm for the power of museum-based education after completing her vocational training – she first completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter and studied art history. After passing through several stations and gaining several years of freelance experience, she has worked in Bad Windsheim for five years and is convinced:
There, Papini likes the fact that she gets to work with so many, very different people: “We have a large team of museum educational specialists, we have craftsmen, scientists and freelancers working for us. We work together very effectively and, therefore, achieve a lot. At the same time, the museum expert likes the encounters she enjoys with guests and the nature that surrounds the open-air museum.
Sheep-like warmth for the reception
Some guests’ eyes really light up when they see the sheep. A small flock comes with the guide to the entrance of the Franconian Open Air Museum to greet and welcome the group. The visitors come from different assisted living groups and are embarking on a three-day excursion. They receive a guided tour that is tailored to their needs and contains many elements that can be experienced through the senses.
The animal-assisted interaction process, as can be seen, for example, with the sheep, helps the guests to arrive well at the museum and to feel comfortable there. The welcoming reception committee is just one of many elements with which the experts at the Franconian Open Air Museum want to help guests with cognitive impairments to enjoy an eventful visit.
“We have found that people with disabilities also feel very comfortable with us,” says Papini, who is working hard with her team to create special, barrier-free offers. “For example, we have many animals. Guests with learning difficulties, in particular, find this to be truly wonderful; they come into contact with animals very easily. And another thing they also like: direct contact with nature when they’re with us and the feeling that here in the open-air museum, you find yourself entering into a different, slower-paced time.”
For visitors, a tour of the Franconian Open Air Museum is like a journey back in time through 700 years of Franconian everyday history. There are over 100 historic buildings on the grounds in a cultural landscape as it once was.
Many people also like the fact that they can watch craftsmen at work in the open-air museum as they would have once worked. And many groups also book workshops where, for example, felting or butter-making can be done. “We are entirely attuned to people with disabilities, and especially to visitors with cognitive impairments. At the same time, we cannot be completely barrier-free because of the old houses and all their particular peculiarities. But I get the impression that nobody really expects that either.”
Sniffing, picking, tasting
The group of visitors has now arrived at the herb beds. Guests are allowed to sniff, pick and taste different plants. For Papini, the “Riech-Beete” – home-grown herb beds to stimulate the senses – are a good example of how offers for people with disabilities ultimately benefit everyone. This is because, although they were created especially for visitors with impaired vision and for people suffering from dementia, they are now something of a delight to almost all guests.
Brochures in simplified language and exhibitions – such as in the “Shepherding from Hambühl” or “Natural stone in rural Franconia”, where you can touch so many new things – are not just great for families, in fact for all visitors. And if groups with special requirements arrive, the museum’s team will also be happy to put together an individual tour that will hopefully fit perfectly and be fun for all.
In order to keep improving the offer, the Franconian Open Air Museum is working together with the other inclusive museums in Bavaria and with associations for the disabled.
The work is a source of great joy: “It is a wonderful experience to lead groups with very different needs, because you get so much back: a glow in the face, great satisfaction, plenty of openness. But in doing so, we also have the feeling that we are allowed to give them something.”
Papini’s favourite places in the museum include the shepherding exhibition and the farmhouse from Seubersdorf. Both are truly special and particularly authentic places for her where, even more than elsewhere on the grounds, you get the feeling that time has stood still, and that the farmer or the shepherd is about to come home.
Many people – Papini continues – find it so cosy in the Franconian Open Air Museum anyway that they ask whether it might be possible to spend the night in one of the old houses. “That’s rather difficult,” says the educational specialist with a laugh, “but I can well understand the desire.”
More information about the Museen inklusive (only in German)
... by Eva-Maria Papini
Great places to eat on the grounds of the Open Air Museum
You don’t even have to leave the Franconian Open Air Museum for a culinary tip: I recommend our three great eating destinations located right on the grounds. A museum restaurant complete with beer garden is located directly on a pond, just like in a Franconian village – it’s genuinely idyllic.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Located 20 kilometres from Bad Windsheim. The medieval old town has simply been lovingly restored. A somewhat special destination is the “Käthe Wohlfahrt Weihnachtsdorf” – an incredibly large shop spread over several old, historic houses. A great place to get your Christmas decorations of all kinds there, all year round. It’s quite unique – when I have visitors, I often take them there. You simply have to see it.
Europäisches Schulandheim Bad Windsheim
The “Europäisches Schullandheim Bad Windsheim”, a wonderful school camp located directly on the museum grounds, is optimally equipped to meet the needs of people with disabilities. It’s also a great meeting place, so it’s also a great place to stay for groups of people without disabilities. We also work closely with this educational institution.
schullandheimwerk-mittelfranken.de (only in German)
All museums included at a glance:
- Museum im Kulturspeicher Würzburg
- Museen Schloss Aschach (only in German)
- Edwin Scharff Museum Neu-Ulm
- Kunstmuseum Bayreuth (only in German)
- Freilandmuseum Fladungen
- Kelten Römer Museum Manching (only in German)
- Galerie Bezirk Oberbayern (only in German)
- Freilichtmuseum Glentleiten
- Museum Oberschönenfeld (only in German)
- Kempten-Museum im Zumsteinhaus (only in German)
- Stadtmuseum Deggendorf (only in German)
- Stadtmuseum Schwandorf