April 29, 2016: According to the National Down Syndrome Society, there are more than 350,000 people living with Down syndrome in the United States. It is one of the most recognizable chromosomal conditions in the world. “In Celebration of Down Syndrome,” an exciting new exhibit at the Museum of disABILITY History, explores medical history, myths and facts, as well as success stories and popular culture. The exhibit’s grand opening, featuring vibrant multimedia and Hollywood memorabilia honoring the lives of individuals who have Down syndrome, will be held Saturday, May 7, 2016, from 2 to 4 p.m., at 3826 Main Street, Buffalo.
Keynote speaker Dr. David Wright, professor of history at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, will present, “Down syndrome: Learning from the Past, Looking Toward the Future.” He is author and co-editor of eight books, including Downs: The History of a Disability. Attendees will have an opportunity to participate in a question and answer session.
The centerpiece of this new exhibit is photography by Eva Snoijink from her book, Down’s Upside: A Positive View of Down’s Syndrome. Rather than stereotypical images, the display features portraits of happy children.
Kelly’s Hollywood, an inspirational documentary, will be available to view. The movie is film director Brian Donovan’s tribute to his sister, Kelly, who was born with Down syndrome. A Buffalo native and a 1985 graduate of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, Brian moved to Hollywood and became a writer, actor, director and producer. The film is about a brother’s quest to help his sister fulfill her dream of becoming a Hollywood diva. In 2014, the film was featured at the Museum of disABILITY History Film and Speaker Series.
“Unspoken Voice,” an artwork exhibition by Bailey Bastine, an artist from East Aurora, NY who has Down syndrome, will be displayed during the event, along with engaging exhibit panels featuring professionals with Down syndrome in acting and advertising.
Memorabilia donated by Christopher Burke, an actor with Down syndrome, who played Corky on Life Goes On will be available to view. Additionally, a cheerleading uniform worn by Lauren Potter, an actress with Down syndrome, from her role as Becky on Glee, will be on display.
The pop culture exhibit panel includes photos of actors with Down syndrome contributed by Gail Williamson, founder of Down Syndrome in Arts & Media and talent agent for the Diversity Department of Kazarian/Measures/Ruskin & Associates, both based outside of Los Angeles, CA. Williamson said: “Babies with Down syndrome are the youngest people ever trained to be actors. We take one look at their sweet faces when they are born and put them into therapies that are very much like acting.”
Also highlighted on this panel is Madeline Stuart, a model from Brisbane, Australia who was born with Down syndrome. She has been internationally recognized for her work promoting acceptance and changing perceptions of beauty.
“In Celebration of Down Syndrome” is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities and a donation from the Down Syndrome Parents Group of Western New York, Inc.
The exhibit will be on display until the end of 2016. For more information about the free grand opening event or to register, call 716-629-3626.
Established in 1998, the Museum of disABILITY History is the only one of its kind in the United States and is dedicated to advancing the understanding, acceptance and independence of people with disabilities. The Museum’s exhibits, collections, publications, archives and educational programs create awareness and a platform for dialogue and discovery.