10 museums to take part in ‘Sensational Museum’ pilot

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft (CC BY-SA 4.0 Abby Butcher)

The project aims to rethink the assumption that sight plays the most important role in the design of experiences

Ten organisations are taking part in a new project to explore a hierarchy of senses in exhibition design.

The Sensations Museum project asserts that most museums are created by and for non-blind (sighted) people, and the design process within museums often assumes sight is desirable or necessary.

The £1m project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), is hoped to design and create sensory interventions that are accessible to all.

The project is exploring a new ‘sensory logic’ to avoid alienating people who prefer to access and process information in ways that are not only – or not entirely – visual.

It will encourage a design process which embraces the notion that engaging several senses can enhance a person’s experience, whether or not they need to use that sense for ‘access’ purposes.

Over the last few months, the project has been running two strands of workshops to develop its prototype processes and software.

Piloting its Collections prototype are the National Paralympic Heritage Trust, Bradford District Museums and Galleries, and BFI Archive. Piloting its communications prototype are the Roman Baths and Pump Room, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, and Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery.

Piloting both prototypes together are Herefordshire Museum Service, Keswick Museums, Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust, and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

“These museums and teams will play a key role in the next stages of the project, using our sensational prototypes to develop multisensory ways of working within their institutions”, the project’s website said.