Museums and Art Tours
Many museums offer audio tours using handheld devices, which not only describe items in the exhibit but may also include background information about the artist, history, and other insights. Visitors to the exhibit are issued a headset and player to hear the information while moving about the gallery. Check to see if reservations for this type of tour are necessary.
Touch Galleries or Touch Tours
Ask if your local museum offers any special services for individuals who are blind or low vision. Some museums provide “touch galleries” or “touch tours.” Many museums offer interactive touch exhibits that you, your family, and your friends can enjoy together.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “Form in Art” program combines art-making studio classes and the study of art history into a unique course for adults who are blind or have low vision. Visual description and touch tours by specially trained guides help students gain an initial experience of selecting objects in the Museum’s galleries.
Historical and subjective information and lectures by conservators and curators fill in this overview and teach about the art museum’s role. In studio classes, artist instructors expose the students to various materials and techniques to assist and encourage self-expression.
Four different Form in Art classes meet once a week for two 13-week semesters each year. At the end of the year, students can enter their best works in a Museum-held exhibition, which serves as a celebration of their efforts and as an inspiration to blind and sighted Museum visitors alike.
Online Art Courses
Ask your family and friends to serve as your “windows to art.” Ask them to share what they see with you, and together you can explore what the art means for each of you.
Art Education for the Blind has created Art History Through Touch and Sound, an online art history course providing a multi-sensory art history from prehistoric to modern times. It provides over 600 images with verbal descriptions, printable tactile diagrams, interpretive sound compositions, art activities, and teaching tips.
Low Vision Devices
Talk with your eye doctor about low-vision optical devices that might help view some artworks if you have low vision. Helpful low-vision devices can include small hand-held magnifiers and/or magnifiers with built-in lights (to help with reading the guidebook or program), small hand-held telescopes for spot viewing, spectacle-mounted telescopes, and bioptic telescopes.
Viewing museum exhibits is a special interest that your doctor may not discuss during an eye examination. Be sure to share your specific viewing needs with your doctor.
Large Print Programs
An increasing number of museums and cultural events now provide large print programs and materials. Some may also be available in braille. Ask if your museum provides this service.