Qatar Foundation breaks down barriers to experiencing art through its Multisensory Experience Tour tailored towards inclusivity.
Is a picture really worth a thousand words? The famous saying seems to imply that art cannot be appreciated by those who cannot see. At Qatar Foundation, we disagree.
Art is for everyone. It is not exclusive to people who can “see” art in the traditional sense. But that is not to say having tactile and audio description is exclusive to the enjoyment of people with a visual disability.
One understands and appreciates art more when experiencing it through different formats and using all of our senses in a variety of ways.
The Multisensory Experience Tour of the Seero fi al ardh exhibition is led by students from the Master of Arts in Audiovisual Translation program at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Hamad Bin Khalifa University.
The student guides applied the knowledge they gained from the accessibility course, titled “Intersensory Translation for Access” and taught by Dr. Josélia Neves, to develop the tour.
They draw on multiformat and multimodal resources to provide the required achievement space for persons of any ability to enjoy and appreciate the exhibition.
Visitors are guided through the exhibition space before experiencing the 20-minute show. Then, they explore chosen art pieces. The tour has multiple inclusive components starting with an audio description of the exhibition space.
No detail is too small to describe – from the colors, shapes and movement of the pieces in the exhibition, to the bold rays of the midday sun casting light that reflects off the statues.
Guests are also encouraged to draw on their other senses – to touch and feel the artwork while listening to the audio commentary to better connect with the descriptions they hear.
Braille guides of the entire exhibition are another tactile component that enable guests to visualize the show in their mind’s eye, to enjoy and appreciate the art in their own unique way.
Small groups of one or two guests per guide move through the exhibition space at their leisure, allowing them every opportunity to immerse themselves in the multisensory experience.
The guides’ focus is not on “helping” guests navigate the tour.
At the heart of the Multisensory Experience Tour, guests are empowered with the ability to choose how they want to enjoy the art – which tools to access, with or without the help of guides, and at what pace.
Because the question of art should never come down to if someone can enjoy it, rather how they choose to.