The Wallace Collection

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.

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Something In The Air At The V&A

Earlier this month I made another visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum. The first time I went there last year was with a lady called Rafie, to see how accessible it was as a visually impaired person for her PhD study. And this time I met her at the museum again, but this time it was for a focus group accessibility study organised by some of her colleagues from University College London (UCL), and there were 3 other participants as well as me. The ladies from UCL were running a few of these sessions over a couple of days, organised by a lady called Lydia, and this one had sounded very intriguing to me. Quite literally ‘sounded’ in fact, given that it involved some clever use of ultrasound!

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Museum of London

To escape from the freezing weather at the weekend, I spent a couple of afternoons looking around the Museum of London, which I haven’t yet been to since moving here. I think I may have been there once as a kid, but I don’t recall it in any detail. It’s a really interesting place though, covering the entire history of London through a huge variety of exhibits. So I was really looking forward to exploring it, as I’ve always loved the city since I was a child visiting relatives here, and I’m now very happy to be actually living here.

My first visit on Saturday afternoon had a dual purpose, as I was helping a lovely lady called Rafie Cecilia from University College London with her PhD study into assistive technology for visually impaired people at museums. This basically involved me wearing a camera on my chest to record what I was looking at, while Rafie followed me around and took notes on what I was doing, and then she recorded an interview with me afterwards about my experience. She’s very friendly and professional, and it’s wonderful that she’s looking into this kind of thing, so I enjoyed the experience. This is our second of 3 meetings in fact, having first got together at the Victoria & Albert Museum in December, and I’m looking forward to meeting her again at the Wallace Collection soon. And I know she’ll be reading this, so hello! 🙂

I had only intended to visit for one day this weekend, but as I didn’t get to see the entire first floor on Saturday, I decided to go back and finish it off on Sunday. That only took another hour though, which was quicker than I thought it would be. So I ended up going downstairs and looking through all of that floor as well. Sure, I didn’t read or view everything along the way, as I couldn’t see it all clearly enough, for reasons I’ll get to later in this post. But I did get to see a lot of lovely things, and took hundreds of photos along the way, so I got a lot out of it overall.

So in this post I want to tell you about my visit, and show you just a handful of the many photos I took (there are many more on my Instagram and Facebook pages). Hope you enjoy!

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Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum is one of the most well-known and exciting museums in the city, because of the huge variety of fascinating historical objects it holds in its many galleries. So it was one of the places I was really looking forward to visiting when I moved to London.

So I’ve now been there twice this year. I first visited back in April, but never got around to blogging about it at the time. And then I went back again last weekend. The most recent trip is the most significant that I want to talk about, but I’ll briefly fill you in on my first visit too, as it’s a good opportunity to do so.

Chandelier in the main hall of the V&A Museum. It has many curved intertwining tubes with bulbous ends, in a mixture of blue and green colours, forming a teardrop-like shape overall.

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