Museums are increasingly coming up with strategies to make their facilities more accessible to visitors with disabilities. A recent example is the Chau Chak Wing Museum in Australia: this artistic institution now offers color-blind visitors special glasses that allow them to better distinguish the paintings in front of them. “How do the paintings appear to you? Many color blind people have been asked this (boring) question. While the vision condition is often simplified as an inability to distinguish between red and green, there are variations in how it affects individuals.
In Western countries, it is estimated that 8 to 10% of men suffer from it, compared to 0.4% of women. In Australia, that’s over a million people. In the interest of accessibility, the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney has partnered with the American company EnChroma to provide specially designed glasses for color-blind visitors. These glasses allow visually impaired people to see colors that they usually cannot distinguish.
“Accessibility of art and design is always a priority at the Chau Chak Wing Museum and we are very pleased to be the first venue in Australia to offer this technology,” said Dr. Paul Donnelly, Deputy Director of the Museum. , in a statement. “This partnership is another important step in our goals of inclusivity, helping people with color blindness experience the wonder and vibrancy of the exhibits we offer.”
Museums in search of inclusiveness
The device has been available since April at the Chau Chak Wing Museum. Many color-blind visitors like Tim Robinson were able to take advantage of it, to their delight. “I am a regular visitor to the Museum and I am familiar with many works. But I saw many of them in a completely new way for the first time – with different colors, depth and clarity,” he said.
EnChroma has a similar partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, Colorado, in place since 2019 as part of its Color Accessibility Program. Sixteen other cultural institutions are also involved in making color-blind glasses available to the public, according to the company’s website.
While many museums seek to strengthen their accessibility programs, access to culture still remains challenging for people with multiple disabilities. Prices, crowds and accessibility of places often prevent them from visiting cultural establishments as much as they would like, according to a recent report by the French foundation Malakoff Humanis Handicap. An initiative like the Chau Chak Wing Museum, however, hints at a future in which museums are truly accessible to everyone.
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