Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Making Brooklyn Bloom 2021

Technical production assistance for virtual public program // 2021

Turnstile Studio provided pre-production, training, coordination, and production services to Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s staff for their annual community event, Making Brooklyn Bloom, which was held on Zoom in March 2021 with more than 300 participants. This included creating a production plan and run-of-show to make the online event as interactive as possible, training the staff, volunteers, and guest speakers on relevant Zoom features and production tasks, managing a Facebook Live stream, directing all visual and audio features of the broadcast, and coordinating ASL interpretation and other accessibility accommodations.

Maxo Vanka Murals: Interpretive Planning

Photo of a church ceiling painted by artist Maxo Vanka depicting Mother Mary wearing a red robe and Baby Jesus on her lap, Jesus ascending to heaven above her

Stakeholder-focused planning process to develop interpretive framework and resources for future growth // 2020

Turnstile Studio produced an interpretive plan for the Society to Preserve the Millvale Murals of Maxo Vanka in the greater Pittsburgh area, a nonprofit organization which works to preserve and interpret historic murals inside an active Roman Catholic Church. The murals were painted by Croatian artist Maxo Vanka in 1937 and 1941 at St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church, and they reflect contemporary struggles for social justice and the lived experience of the working-class Croatian community. The interpretive planning involved engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, including staff, volunteers, board members, visitors, scholars, congregants, and other community members in a collaborative and iterative process to develop the final plan, which included an interpretive framework guided by interpretive themes, outcomes, essential questions, and design principles; a theory of change and logic models to guide future program development; audience analysis and growth strategies; and comparative sites for learning and collaboration.

Expanding Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Welcome

Photo of a tour group showing a woman leading to tour, an ASL interpreter, a guest in a wheelchair, and another guest standing, with trees in the background

Staff Training and Capacity Building for Accessibility // 2019–2022

Starting in 2019, Turnstile was engaged by Brooklyn Botanic Garden to act as the key consultant in the implementation of a multi-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services titled “Expanding BBG’s Welcome,” which seeks to further advance accessibility of the site for people of all abilities through staff training and professional development. Turnstile conducted a baseline internal assessment of the experience and knowledge of staff related to accessibility through observations, surveys, and focus groups by department. Using the results of the assessment, Turnstile designed and has led training workshops for over 200 frontline staff across the institution that have been customized by departmental roles and have focused on practical interactions with visitors. Turnstile has also developed a range of learning modules on accessibility-related topics, including empathy-building, physical navigation and wayfinding, and multimodal communication strategies, that are being incorporated into in-house staff trainings and provides ongoing support to the Garden’s accessibility initiatives, including facilitating connections with disability service providers and advocates to serve as advisors and trainers, the roll-out of accessible services, programs, and signage, and supporting interdepartmental coordination on crafting institutional policies and procedures.

Green-Wood Cemetery: Visitor Engagement Training Workshop and Resources

Professional Development Workshop and Capacity-Building Resources // 2017

In the spring of 2017, Turnstile Studio was contracted by Green-Wood Cemetery to develop and conduct a customized professional development workshop for their tour guides and staff with a focus on techniques and best practices for providing an inclusive and engaging experience for all visitors. In addition to the training workshop, Turnstile’s team produced capacity-building resources for the institution, including training materials and resources for future workshops, as well as  a report with recommendations related to visitor engagement on tours of Green-Wood based on tour observations, assessment of online and printed visitor materials, and best practices across the museum and tourism fields.

The Ringling: Accessibility Assessment

Ornate features and stained glass windows of the back of the Ca' d'Zan mansion at the Ringling Estate

Recommendations for Accessibility Strategies // 2016

Turnstile Studio was commissioned to produce an assessment with recommendations and resources for increasing accessibility for all visitors at The Ringling’s 66-acre campus in Sarasota, Florida, including the Museum of Art, Circus Museum, Historic Asolo Theatre, Ca’ d’Zan mansion, and the Bayfront Gardens. The results of the assessment were informed by a review of visitor and training materials, a three-day site visit, meetings with department heads, and a survey conducted with more than 300 volunteers and staff. The final report included survey reports, as well as general recommendations in the following four areas: 1) Physical accessibility and navigation; 2) Visitor services and effective communication; 3) Institutional capacity building; and 4) Staff training. Since this assessment, The Ringling has excelled at implementing many of the recommendations in the report.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Accessibility and Visitor Engagement

Photo of the Fragrance Garden showing a raised bed of plants and bronze plaque with Braille text and a group in the distance

Training Workshops and Resources for Staff and Volunteers // 2016

Turnstile Studio was contracted by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to conduct a series of training workshops, develop training tools and materials, and provide recommendations to further enhance accessibility and visitor engagement for both children and adults. This project involved two separate accessibility training workshops with staff, K–12 instructors, Discovery Docents, and Garden Guides and the development of training resources to support the institution’s continuing efforts to provide welcoming experiences to visitors with disabilities. Turnstile staff conducted on-site observations of guided tours, school programs, and the Discovery Garden; created tailor-made training resources and evaluation tools for general public tours and the Discovery Garden; developed a train-the-trainers lesson plan with supplementary training materials and resources; supported the inaugural pilot early morning opening of the Discovery Garden for families with children who have disabilities; and delivered reports with assessments and recommendations based on observations and best practices in the field for future capacity-building efforts.

Singapore Tourism Board & National Heritage Board: Guided Tour Consulting

Guided Tour Consulting for the Attractions and Experience Development Series in Singapore // 2013

Staff from Turnstile Tours and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum were invited to Singapore by the country’s Tourism Board, Association of Singapore Attractions, Workforce Development Agency, and the National Heritage Board to provide trainings and consultations on storytelling skills and developing more engaging, interactive guided tours for cultural institutions, tourist attractions, and tour companies. As part of a professional development series entitled “Delivering the Story,” Turnstile Tours’ Cindy VandenBosch and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s Director of Education Miriam Bader conducted a half-day seminar, full-day masterclass, and keynote lectures on topics such as multi-sensory engagement on tours, training and retaining guides, responding to visitor feedback, current trends and practices in museum education and tourism, and community-based partnerships for cultural programming. 

>> Continue reading

St. Nick’s Alliance: Tour Consulting

Support for development of neighborhood tour offered by a non-profit organization // 2012

During the spring of 2012, Turnstile Tours provided support to staff members at St. Nick’s Alliance to develop and offer a walking tour focused on sites of historical significance in Williamsburg, a neighborhood in North Brooklyn, that wove together stories of sites, residents, and the organization’s impact over time on issues related to affordable housing, crime, care for senior citizens, public art, and youth programs. Turnstile Tours provided support by providing feedback on place-based storytelling techniques, incorporation of primary sources, past-present connections, and methods for engaging attendees.