Event Title

Sensing the Visual: A Critical Disability Studies Approach to the Allen Memorial Art Museum

Location

King Building 237

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-27-2019 2:00 PM

End Date

4-27-2019 3:20 PM

Abstract

The exterior of Oberlin College’s Allen Memorial Art Museum boldly reads “The Cause of Art is the Cause of the People.” While this sentiment from marxist artist and author William Morris may be inspiring, the reality is that meaningful experiences with art in museums are often inaccessible to people with disabilities. Beginning with the dominance of the visual over all other senses, museum space produces a variety of physical and psychological barriers that prevent people with disabilities from entering or enjoying museums. This project examines the Allen’s commitment to accessibility for visitors of all abilities while taking into account its unique position as a campus art museum with a world renown collection. I begin by comparing the Allen’s physical space with the guidelines put forth by the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 as well as the Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design. Based on my research I have outlined suggestions for the Allen to better accommodate visitors of all abilities. These include a focus on multi-sensory exhibition design, which provides opportunities for engaging all five senses in the gallery, as well as increased collaboration with local schools and disability services at the college. I conclude by emphasizing that everybody learns and experiences the world differently;while instituting accommodations would undoubtedly increase the value of the museum experience for visitors with disabilities, everybody benefits from more inclusive practices.

Keywords:

accessible design, disability studies, diaspora, museum studies, crip theory, multi-sensory design

Notes

Session IV, Panel 8 - Reframing | Margins

Moderator: Christina Neilson, Associate Professor of Baroque and Renaissance Art History and Chair of Art History

Major

Art History

Advisor(s)

Erik Inglis, Art History

Project Mentor(s)

Evangeline Heiliger, Comparative American Studies
Kantara Souffrant, Art History

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Apr 27th, 2:00 PM Apr 27th, 3:20 PM

Sensing the Visual: A Critical Disability Studies Approach to the Allen Memorial Art Museum

King Building 237

The exterior of Oberlin College’s Allen Memorial Art Museum boldly reads “The Cause of Art is the Cause of the People.” While this sentiment from marxist artist and author William Morris may be inspiring, the reality is that meaningful experiences with art in museums are often inaccessible to people with disabilities. Beginning with the dominance of the visual over all other senses, museum space produces a variety of physical and psychological barriers that prevent people with disabilities from entering or enjoying museums. This project examines the Allen’s commitment to accessibility for visitors of all abilities while taking into account its unique position as a campus art museum with a world renown collection. I begin by comparing the Allen’s physical space with the guidelines put forth by the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 as well as the Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design. Based on my research I have outlined suggestions for the Allen to better accommodate visitors of all abilities. These include a focus on multi-sensory exhibition design, which provides opportunities for engaging all five senses in the gallery, as well as increased collaboration with local schools and disability services at the college. I conclude by emphasizing that everybody learns and experiences the world differently;while instituting accommodations would undoubtedly increase the value of the museum experience for visitors with disabilities, everybody benefits from more inclusive practices.