21 August, 2023
Walking in the shoes of a person with visual impairment
National Heritage Week 2023 at the Hunt Museum kicked off on a high note on Saturday with the launch of Seeing Without Sight: A Sensory Exploration. This multi-sensory exhibition presents a selection of objects chosen by four persons with visual impairment. They collaborated with the Museum to deliver all the content in the exhibition as well as accessibility design solutions which increase access for people with disability while enriching the experience for everybody. It is FREE to visit this exhibition.
Kerstin Mey, President of the University of Limerick and Hunt Museum Board member opened the exhibition on Saturday. At the launch, Liam McLoughlin, one of the exhibition’s visually impaired co-creators explained:
“Engaging with objects in museums requires you to use the pathway of sight but as I am a person with visual impairment, I cannot easily do this. Seeing Without Sight is a game changer because it allows you to use your other senses to touch object reproductions and to listen to audio descriptions which bring the objects alive. We have developed an excellent accessibility model for exhibitions which I hope other museum and galleries will use in the future.”
Seeing Without Sight was developed over one year through a collaborative project with the visually impaired co-creators, museum docent volunteers and Hunt Museum staff. Maria Cagney, Curator of Education & Outreach led the project and delivery of the exhibition. At the launch she gave an overview of the project:
“During workshops we assisted our visually impaired co-creators to investigate 35 objects in total. To do this, the docents wrote vivid descriptions for these objects which give physical details and some contextual information allowing them to paint pictures in their mind. Our co-creators then selected two objects each. These were digitised in 3D and printed by the Rapid Innovation Unit and form the touch component in this exhibition. The audio descriptions presented in it were written and performed by our visually impaired co-creators. From an inclusion point of view, this component is very important because it allows their voices to be heard and represented in the Museum.”
Seeing Without Sight forms an important milestone on the Hunt Museum’s journey towards expanding access and inclusion for people with disabilities. This year, it has been working with people with visual impairment but also making changes so that the Museum is more welcoming to people with Autism. AsIAM, Ireland’s National Autism charity, are guiding the Museum in this work and Autism Friendly Accreditation will be in place before the end of the year. All of this access and inclusion work is funded by the Heritage Council through their Community Heritage grant scheme 2023.
The Seeing Without Sight exhibition will run until 13th September, 2023.
The four co-creators who contributed to this project are Kenneth Mackessy (Adare, Co. Limerick), Liam McLoughlin (Mullingar), Hannah Keane, (Ennis) and Áine Mae Crowley (Spanish Point). The Museum recruited these individuals through the National Council for the Blind Ireland, early last Summer.
The main components in the exhibition are:
- 9 collection objects selected by co-creators
- Audio descriptions for the above 9 objects. When a visitor listens to these, via headphones connected to a Museum in a Box device, they hear the voices of our co-creators
- 3D printed tactile reproductions, one per collection object. These support learning through touch.
- Large format object labels
If looking for one of our objects, please click here