Life with sight loss tackled in museum’s new exhibition and resources

A group of people talking to each other in front of Charlie the Bull  at the launch event for the new exhibition and resources at The Beaney

An exhibition by people with sight loss has opened at The Beaney alongside the launch of new accessible resources that enhance the visitor experience of those living with visual impairments.

The Sensing Culture: Eye-Dentity exhibition presents artwork by local people with sight loss, offering visitors the opportunity to see the world through the artists’ collective artwork by inviting people to experience what it might be like to have visual impairment.

The artwork was produced in a series of Sensing Culture creative workshops led by the MESS ROOM, an inclusive arts studio based in Chatham, with mixed media artist Wendy Daws and supported by Hannah Whittaker and Tina Ryan.

The Eye-Dentity exhibition is now open in The Front Room until Sunday 10 March (closed Mondays). Admission is free, with donations encouraged.

As well as opening the exhibition, The Beaney has also commissioned Wendy Daws to create a bronze tactile panel of one the museum’s biggest stars – Charlie the Bull from Canterbury-born artist Thomas Sidney Cooper’s painting ‘Separated but not divorced’.

This forms part of the collection of Touchable Beaney objects and can be found in the Garden Room.

Audio insights into some of the museum’s most interesting artefacts and artworks have also been developed as part of their new ‘Listen here, listen anywhere’ resources.

The audio descriptions communicate visual information and are one of the best ways for blind and partially sighted visitors to experience the collection when visiting the museum.

Recordings are accessible via QR codes using personal devices and the museum’s free wifi as well as being on The Beaney’s website in order to share the collection with people who are unable to physically visit the museum.

Cllr Connie Nolan, Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, said: “The Beaney’s exhibitions are always brilliant at making you see things from new perspectives, but getting to experience what it’s like to see through the eyes of those with sight loss as part of this display will be, I’m sure, incredibly moving for many visitors.

“I’m also thrilled that visually impaired visitors will be able to experience the museum in whole new ways with the new touchable artwork and audio descriptions.

“Making The Beaney accessible to as many people as possible is the thread that runs through everything the museum does and is what makes it such a welcoming, inclusive space that we are so proud to have in our local community.”

This work forms part of The Beaney’s award-winning health and wellbeing programme which uses its unique building and the museum’s collections to explore how their restorative, therapeutic qualities can enhance visitors’ mental and physical wellbeing.

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Published: 19 January 2024

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