How a Podcast Brings Museums to the Visually Impaired

How a Podcast Brings Museums to the Visually Impaired


Verbal descriptions have been utilized by museums for years to attach visually impaired artwork lovers with their collections. However the descriptions are often written for in-person excursions, and discovering them on their web sites can take loads of digging. Some even require downloading and studying a brand new app.

A Lengthy Look Podcast makes use of verbal descriptions to ship artwork lovers a novel approach to take pleasure in artwork wherever and anytime utilizing apps they already know. Every 10-minute episode begins with an outline of a murals, adopted by its again story–the historical past, thriller or controversy of the work or the artist. Because it’s a podcast, it may be simply accessed on its web site alonglookpodcast.com and on fashionable podcast apps and streaming companies like:

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Overcast
  • Spotify
  • Pandora

It began on a airplane

A Lengthy Look launched in 2017 after I binge listened to a number of podcasts throughout an extended flight. Two reveals had been large influences: The Reminiscence Palace and Stuff You Missed in Historical past Class. In The Reminiscence Palace, Nate DiMeo spent a number of episodes speaking about works within the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork. His considerate narratives, written primarily for onsite guests, convey works within the American Wing to life.

In Stuff You Missed in Historical past Class, Holly Frey and Tracy V. Wilson share oddball and lesser-known tales from world wide in an entertaining method. Their easy-going type confirmed you might discuss historical past in a enjoyable, non-academic method.

After I was arising with concepts, I remembered my first go to to the Nationwide Gallery of Artwork in Washington, DC the place I spent 45 minutes taking a look at a portray referred to as The Mill. It’s a scene of a Dutch mill sitting on a hilltop with a curving river under it. It’s night and there are a couple of individuals standing on the riverbank approached by a person in a rowboat. I had by no means checked out a murals for that lengthy. I simply sat in entrance of it, letting my eyes roam everywhere in the scene, and skilled a way of slowing down and started noticing extra particulars, like how the gorgeous silvery night mild enjoying over the water and the way it contrasted with the nice and cozy earth tones of the riverbank. 

The Reminiscence Palace proved a visible expertise could possibly be translated into audio in a compelling method. However I questioned if I might reproduce that have with The Mill by speaking about what occurs if you spent minutes as an alternative of seconds with a murals? Would individuals even hearken to an outline of taking a look at artwork?

After writing my first description–about The Mill, of course–I noticed that wouldn’t be sufficient and remembered one thing from after I learn Michelangelo’s letters for an artwork historical past class. Michelangelo was an Italian artist who lived throughout the Renaissance and he typically labored for vital shoppers just like the Pope. He wrote about being pissed off at not having the ability to get marble for a significant venture as a result of the quarry staff had gone on strike and his consumer was getting irritated concerning the delay.

I noticed that story might’ve occurred anytime, even a couple of years in the past. And that’s what gave me the thought to incorporate backstories, to offer a method into artwork that wasn’t all about artwork jargon however concerning the flesh-and-blood individuals who made these unbelievable works. 

One other inspiration was The Sluggish Artwork Motion which first launched the thought of taking time with a murals. 

The Nationwide Gallery of Artwork turned homebase for the present due to its huge assortment and a great deal of copyright-free photographs and assets to assist me discover these tales. Plus it has free admission!

Associated Hyperlinks

The Reminiscence Palace

Stuff You Missed in Historical past Class 

Sluggish Artwork Motion

An surprising outcome

The present initially was geared towards sighted artwork lovers and the artwork curious–people who’re concerned with artwork however really feel intimidated or overwhelmed by museums. However shortly after the launch, a former colleague who has been visually impaired for years left a tremendous touch upon Fb. “Even with restricted imaginative and prescient and with out taking a look at an enlarged picture of the portray being described, I might see it in my thoughts’s eye!” she wrote. “You level out particulars I might have missed simply because I would not have seen them. The power I now require to essentially LOOK and research one thing visible is an immense expenditure of power and your descriptions have made artwork appreciation, as soon as once more, a joyful expertise for me. THANK YOU!!!”

This was a splendidly surprising results of the present. To make the descriptions much more helpful, I regarded for verbal description coaching assets and located Artwork Past Sight, a company devoted to creating arts and tradition accessible to individuals with disabilities. And The Nationwide Gallery of Artwork invited me to take part in coaching for his or her implausible in-person program, Image This. Each taught me methods to boost my descriptions, making them much more vivid. 

A Lengthy Look is now in Season 6 and due to the shutdown, I’ve gone on a digital street journey to go to museums across the nation that additionally provide copyright-free photographs. Up to now I’ve finished lengthy appears on the Metropolitan Museum of Artwork, the Artwork Institute of Chicago and the J. Paul Getty Museum and there are a couple of episodes left til the season ends again in DC. I hope you’ll be part of me!

Associated Hyperlinks

A Lengthy Look Podcast

The Nationwide Gallery of Artwork

The Mill 

Artwork Past Sight

Image This

Writer: Karen Jackson



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