Redefining Access: Embracing multimodality, memorability and shared experience in Museums

The authors, Alison F. Eardley, Clara Mineiro, Joselia Neves and Peter Ride, discuss the principles of “access for all” in museums, both physical and intellectual access. They explore this question of multisensory processing in neurologically typical individuals, and case studies of two Portuguese museums that experimented with implementation of an “access for all” approach to the presentation of their permanent collections. The study was designed with three phases: addressing architectural barriers to access, preparation of accessible information about space and objects, and testing of alternative formats to convey this information to learn how to meet diverse needs in different ways. Set in the context of research on multisensory learning, this article discusses why an access for all principle is a majority issue as well as a moral and legal concept. It discusses two case studies where an “access for all” museological approach has been applied to access to the collections, with differing success. The discussion focuses on how an “access for all” approach could enhance learning, long-term memorability and the ‘cultural value’ of a museum experience for all visitors.

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