Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Art Matters Blog

A sensory experience

December 14th, 2018

People interacting with multisensory artwork

Image by the AGO

What if visual art extended beyond sight to our other senses? What would the Ontario landscape in Tom Thomson’s The West Wind sound like? How would the stiff clothes in Otto Dix’s Portrait of Dr. Heinrich Stadelmann feel? We’re one step closer to finding out thanks to a unique collaboration between the AGO and OCAD University.

Graduate students in OCAD University’s Inclusive Design Program recently developed multisensory projects that interpret their favourite artwork in the AGO Collection using sound, smell or touch. These accessible and inclusive projects remind us that there are so many different ways to connect with art.

The students generously donated their unique prototypes to the AGO for use in our multisensory tours so that AGO visitors who are blind or have low vision can experience visual art in new ways.

Here’s a look at some of the prototypes they created for museum visitors to feel, smell and hear:

Otto Dix, Portrait of Dr. Heinrich Stadelmann, 1922. Oil on canvas, overall: 90.8 x 61 cm. Anonymous gift, 1969; donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1988.

Tom Thomson, The West Wind, Winter 1916-1917. Oil on canvas, unframed: 120.7 × 137.9 cm. Gift of the Canadian Club of Toronto, 1926.

Jean-Siméon Chardin, Jar of Apricots, 1758. Oil on canvas, unframed: 57.2 × 50.8 cm. Purchase, 1962

James Tissot, La Demoiselle de magasin, c. 1883-1885. Oil on canvas, overall: 146.1 x 101.6 cm. Gift from Corporations’ Subscription Fund, 1968.

Inspired? So are we. To learn more about how they turned visual art into an experience of the senses, we recently caught up with the creative students and the AGO’s Melissa Smith, Coordinator of the Access to Art Program. Check it out:

If you or someone you know is blind or partially sighted and would like to book a multisensory tour, please call 416-979-6648 or visit our website for more information. The AGO invites visitors of all abilities to experience our collections in an inclusive and welcoming environment.

Are you an AGOinsider yet? If not, sign up to have stories like these delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Comments are closed.