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Multisensory Tours at the Museum

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is closed today, Monday, January 30 due to inclement weather. Any programs, tours, lectures or classes will not be held. If you are a ticket holder for a tour or an event today, we’ll contact you about rescheduling.

Multisensory materials such as scents and objects that represented items found in the works of art were passed around for participants on some of the tour stops. Sounds like ocean waves crashing against rocks were also incorporated for some of the landscape scenes to give a sense of what the scene depicted.

A woman from the Arkansas Council of the Blind picks up multisensory tour materials representing Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s painting entitled "Little Joe with Cow" from a table.

A woman from the Arkansas Council of the Blind picks up multisensory tour materials representing Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s painting entitled “Little Joe with Cow” from a table.

Participants were able to touch select sculptures on the tour using nitrile gloves. Rita Reese-Whiting, who is the secretary for the Ozarks Chapter of the Arkansas Council of the Blind, said the experience of getting to touch Louise Bourgeois’ Distant Figures sculpture was “absolutely fantastic! To be able to feel the actual construction marks made by the artists was a glimpse into their creative process, and feeling rough, unfinished parts in contrast to highly polished, finished parts gave an understanding of the time, effort, and passion that went into each piece.”

A museum educator and a participant wear blue nitrile gloves as the educator guides the participant’s hand over Louise Bourgeois’ marble sculpture entitled "Distant Figures."

A museum educator and a participant wear blue nitrile gloves as the educator guides the participant’s hand over Louise Bourgeois’ marble sculpture entitled “Distant Figures.”

Participants were also invited to touch works of art created by museum staff and volunteer artists at the end of the program. These works of art included jewelry made from found objects, highly textured paintings, quilts, sculptures, felted objects, among many others.

Museum staff and volunteer artists describe their artworks and artistic processes as the participants feel their artworks.

Museum staff and volunteer artists describe their artworks and artistic processes as the participants feel their artworks.

The artists were also present at this portion of the program to describe their works of art and their artistic processes to the participants as they felt the works of art. In response, Reese-Whiting said, “having the artwork where we could touch it and [to] have the artist walk us through a description by touch as they verbally described the piece let the blind appreciate subtle nuances of the work sighted persons might overlook.”

Crystal Bridges offers free multisensory tours for visitors with vision loss throughout the year with advanced notice, based on availability. To schedule a tour, please contact us here. The museum also offers a number of on-site accommodations for guests with disabilities, which can be found by clicking here.

Accessibility Coordinator Kim Crowell

Accessibility Coordinator Kim Crowell

 

In addition, free audio tours, which include audio label text for selected artworks from the museum’s permanent collection, are available for download on Android or Apple devices. Devices pre-loaded with the audio tours, to use during your visit to the museum, are available for check-out from Guest Services at no cost. The museum is also developing a verbal description app tour, where guests with all levels of sight can listen to the descriptions used on our multisensory tours from any location. For additional access-related questions, please contact us here.