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Art for all the senses

August 22nd, 2017

Image courtesy of the AGO.

There should be no barriers to experiencing great art. At the AGO, our Access to Art Multisensory art visits provide an opportunity for visitors who are blind or have low vision to experience the AGO by stimulating all the senses. Participants explore the AGO Collection with detailed verbal description and conversation, while experiencing some objects through touch, smell or sound.

We are excited to be partnering with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), which will allow us to offer even more Access to Art Multisensory Group Visits. Tours like these provide blind and partially sighted Torontonians a deepened experience with the artworks. After a recent Multisensory Group Visit, some of the participants who are also advocates for the non-sighted community—David Best, David Burnett, James Sanders, and Rob Nevin—shared their thoughts and impressions of the tour.

Image courtesy of the AGO.

Image courtesy of the AGO.

Image courtesy of the AGO.

What stood out about the tour?
Experiencing what other sighted people take for granted stood out for them. In particular, during a guided tactile moment with Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, dynamic dialogue and debate was sparked between the sighted and non-sighted participants as the group discovered the object through touch. This continued when handling 3D copies of artworks, used to help appreciate objects that are too large or fragile to touch.

What was the biggest surprise?
“The artwork in the AGO Collection—the quality!” The group said the number of rare and world-renowned works of art in the AGO Collection added to their experience.

After some reflection, James Sanders shared that “the most significant change in my impression of [the AGO], in general, is the potential for enabling totally blind persons to enjoy art of all genres, not just those that lend themselves to tactile examination… Multisensory experiences provide access to blind persons which otherwise would not be possible.”

If you or someone you know is non-sighted and are interested in booking a visit, please call us at 416-979-6648 or visit our website for more information.

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