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Touch-based art at Ulrich Museum makes exhibit accessible to all

blind woman touches hands tactile paintings in the museum
Photo: Akimov Igor / Shutterstock.com

With the “Solving for X = Accessibility” exhibition, the Ulrich Museum explores the topic of making art accessible, a topic that is getting more attention by museums all over the country and by others who say more needs to be done to involve individuals with vision disability in the cultural life of a community, The Wichita Eagle reports.

The exhibition is part of an ongoing series meant to showcase research at WSU and stimulate conversations about universal topics. Five works of art from the Ulrich Museum’s collection have been recreated as tactile pieces that can be touched. The pieces including Andy Warhol’s famous Campbell Soup-can screen print “Chicken’n Dumplings.”

A wayfinding mobile app created by a WSU research team also is being tested as part of the exhibition. The app uses voiceover to give directions and detailed information about each of the pieces in the small exhibition.

Used together, the app and the tactile images are meant to give what museum officials call “multisensory access” to some of the Ulrich Museum’s collection. Multisensory access has become a buzz phrase in the museum industry, as museums and artists look at how artworks can be experienced in more ways than just through sight. Besides audio tours, access can involve providing braille descriptions and tactile and touchable art or recreations of pieces. Some can include touch-activated sounds and even smells.

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