Last weekend I took my first ever visit to The Wallace Collection, which is a museum full of paintings, sculptures and furniture collected by multiple generations of the same family. When I was younger I had no idea this was just behind Oxford Street, and a lot of shoppers in that area have probably been blissfully unaware of its existence. Of course, even if I had known back then, I wouldn’t have been interested, as I was never into art as a child, and didn’t pay it much attention for a while as I got older.
However, since moving to London, I’ve been able to start exploring and developing an appreciation for artworks and visiting galleries, particularly thanks to guided tours and other interactive and accessible methods of exploring such spaces. As very much an art novice, I am enjoying learning about it and seeing some of the delights on offer. It’s like a fascinating new world, more so than I’d initially expected perhaps. So that was one reason I was looking forward to this visit.
This was also the third and final outing I was doing as part of a PhD study into museum accessibility for the visually impaired, being worked on by Rafie Cecilia. Our previous visits were at the Victoria & Albert Museum last year, and the Museum of London in February. I also met her again during the ultrahaptics testing at the V&A earlier this month, but that was for a different study. It’s always a pleasure meeting her, and it’s wonderful that she’s putting so much time and effort into this work, to support people like myself who find it harder to explore museums compared to normally sighted people. And now she and her colleague Maryam Bandukda have set up the Disability Innovation Research Society, bringing together researchers to discuss disability innovation and accessible technology, which is great. So I was glad to be meeting Rafie again.
And talking of accessibility, that sounded really good in this museum as well, with the website stating that they had an audio guide for the visually impaired, plus Rafie had recommended a special app I could use to find out more about the artworks. So that was another big reason for me to go. I’d heard very good things about the Wallace Collection, and getting information about the various exhibits sounded like it would be pretty easy. So now I want to tell you how it all went.