Many museums offer audio tours using audio cassettes which not only describe items in the exhibit but may also include background information about the artist, history, and other insights. Visitors to the exhibit are issued a headset and cassette player to hear the information while moving about the gallery. Check to see if reservations for this type of tour are necessary.

Touch Galleries or Touch Tours

Ask if your local museum offers any special services for individuals with vision loss. Some museums offer “touch galleries” or “touch tours.” Many museums offer interactive touch exhibits that you, your family, and friends can enjoy together.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “Form in Art” program combines art-making studio classes and the study of art history into a unique course for adults who are blind or have low vision. Visual description and touch tours by specially trained guides help students gain an initial experience of select objects in the Museum’s galleries.

Historical and subjective information and lectures by conservators and curators fill in this overview and teach about the role of the art museum. In studio classes, artist instructors expose the students to a wide variety of materials and techniques to assist and encourage self-expression.

Four different Form in Art classes meet once a week for two 13-week semesters each year. At the end of the year, students have the opportunity to enter their best works in a Museum-held exhibition, which not only serves as a celebration of their efforts, but also as an inspiration to blind and sighted Museum visitors alike.

Online Art Courses

Consider asking your family members and friends to serve as your “windows to art.” Ask them to share what they see with you and together you can explore what the art means for each of you.

Art Education for the Blind has created Art History Through Touch and Sound, an online art history course that provides a multi-sensory history of art from prehistoric through modern times. It provides over 600 images with verbal descriptions, printable tactile diagrams, interpretive sound compositions, art activities, and teaching tips.

Low Vision Devices

If you have low vision, talk with your eye doctor about low vision optical devices that might help with viewing some art works. Helpful low vision devices can include small hand-held magnifiers and/or magnifiers with built-in lights (to help with reading the guidebook or program), small hand-held telescopes for spot viewing, spectacle-mounted telescopes, and bioptic telescopes.

Viewing exhibits at museums is a special interest that your doctor may not discuss during an eye examination. Be sure to share your specific viewing needs with your doctor.

Large Print Programs

An increasing number of museums and cultural events now provide large print programs and materials. Some may also be available in braille. Ask if your museum provides this service.

Additional Resources