(Re)imagining the museum. Communicative and social features of verbal description in art museums
Disability Studies Quarterly
Year of publication
Verbal description plays a crucial role in improving access to modern-day art museums. This article presents the results of a study of verbal description in art museums in France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. These results are of two types: one, the communicative features of the verbal descriptions offered by museums and two, the social features of the context in which these verbal descriptions are created and implemented. Previous studies have partially described these aspects, but they mainly followed a quantitative approach or focused on the most frequent practices regarding specific linguistic devices. The goal of this article is to offer a qualitative analysis of these elements in a large sample and to provide a comparative analysis and critical discussion of both the majority and the minority practices in verbal description in art museums. The results show that art museums follow various approaches to foster the access for blind people to their collections. Some of these approaches open new ways of comprehending accessibility in art museums and especially, audio description. A critical and creative discussion of these findings and further collaboration within and across borders could revolutionize verbal description and visitors' experience in art museums in the years to come.