The Metropolitan Museum of Art has come up with a clever way to make art more accessible to art lovers who happen to be deaf.
Like many museums around the world, the Met has hosted tours with guides who offer commentary in American Sign Language since at least 2001, but as Hyperallergic points out, it is now using Facebook Live to make its museum even more inclusive. The Met started putting tours on Facebook Live a few months ago with an art historian and lecturer taking viewers on a tour of the Rodin exhibit in ASL. It was a success, with more than 52,000 views proving demand for such a program is huge. The ASL tour of Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art was viewed by 18,000 people, many of whom were stumped by the lack of audio on the tour. (It’s in ASL, which doesn’t require audio.) Meanwhile, the live-streamed ASL program on Umberto Boccioni’s “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” reached 17,000 views in just 24 hours.
In addition to programs for visitors who are deaf, many museums, the Met included, offer programs to make their art accessible to visitors who are blind or partially sighted. For example, in addition to braille guides, the Museum of Modern Art offers tours where specially trained guides give detailed visual descriptions of the works and touch tours where visitors can feel the art.