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Gaining Access: The New York City Disability Rights Movement


This exhibition examined the growth of the Disabilities Rights Movement in New York City.

In celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the passing of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Gaining Access charted the history of the modern movement which arose in the early 1960s. Focusing  stories of civil disobedience and self-advocacy, the exhibition told stories about accessible transit, building access, curb cuts in sidewalks, and deinstitutionalization of individuals with mental and cognitive disabilities. These were stories of advocates who recognized that they needed to remake the world, so that they might fully participate in it. Their accomplishments included the first legal protections against discrimination, and the creation of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.

The exhibit featured dozens of historic images, rare video footage, and one-of-a-kind original artifacts from the half-century history of the movement. Gaining Access was the first museum exhibition about the Disability Rights Movement in New York City, recounting a history reminiscent of the civil rights struggles waged by other groups of Americans.

The exhibit was curated by historian Warren Shaw, and presented in partnership with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.


Wednesday, July 01 - Sunday, October 25, 2015