In 2015, The Met collaborated with Multimedia Lab to explore ways museums can make the exhibits accessible to partially sighted and blind visitors.
Ezgi Ucar, a former Intern at MediaLab, Digital Media, shared the design ideas the Met approved for its Access Programs and Community Programs dubbed as The Multisensory Met. The goal was to widen the range of museum audience by including people with impaired senses or disability, regardless of age and background.
In The Met 150, Ezgi Ucar wrote descriptions of the suite of products that made some of Met’s collection accessible to everyone regardless of sensory and physical impairments.
Some Examples of Multisensory Arts That Formed Part of The Multisensory Met Experience
Much too often, museum visitors experience the urge to touch or smell and even taste some of the objects displayed at a museum. Of particular interests are the beautiful sculptures in the African, American and Oceanic galleries, mainly because the indigenous artists who created the fascinating sculptures used different materials: wood, metal, shell or resin.
In addition, as the figurines were mostly found in burial sides, the sculptures contained dirt and clay from the burial ground and/or from riversides, as well as hammers, blades and similar hardware.
Ezgi Ucar replicated versions of certain figurines using the materials used and added to the sculpture, which visitors are allowed to touch, smell or taste. When touched, Ezgi’s replica statue will produce a buzz sound to indicate ongoing interaction.
Here, Ezgi used reproductions of some of The Met’s collection of paintings like Jean Monet’s “Hobby Horse,’ Ezgi transformed the reproductions into sound-sensitive art objects by attaching sound switches. The switch plates were cut into shapes based on the form of the major elements of the painting. When someone touches a particular element, ambient sound related to the element of painting is produced. As with “Hobby Horse,” the ambient sound for the elements include a child talking, the sound of rolling carriage wheels and of a neighing horse.
Using powdered scents, incense, and spices, Ezgi stamped the fragrances on different photos that form part of a painting. She took inspiration from the scratch-and-sniff stickers and used the same method that will allow visitors to scratch and sniff some of the photographed parts of the painting.
An example is the “Garden at Sainte-Adresse” by Claude Monet, on which Ezgi stamped floral, spicy cocoa and salt-water scents.