Vision loss has a way of making all art appear a little too abstract. It changes the way you perceive color and detail. Sometimes it’s just impossible to figure out what it is exactly, that you are looking at.
For all of those reasons, the verbal description and touch tours offered at many museums have a profound way of giving us back the vivid detail we feared was forever lost. If you have had the pleasure of this experience, you’re nodding in agreement right now. If you haven’t, well then it’s time to book yourself a tour right away!
Let this list of museum access programs, in NYC, be your inspiration. Enjoy the amazing experience whenever you can, in New York, or find out what’s happening in your town. And we’ll keep updating this list as we discover more programs.
American Folk Art Museum
2 Lincoln Square
(Columbus Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets)
New York, NY 10023
Call: (212). 595. 9533, ext. 381
Large Print labels are available in all galleries. Verbal imaging and touch tours are offered with one-month advance scheduling, and the museum participated in Art Beyond Sight events.
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024
Call: (212) 313-7565
Monthly Science Sense Tours highlight specific themes and exhibits, engaging participants through extensive verbal descriptions and touchable objects. Advance registration is required for individuals and groups.
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Call: (718) 501-6225
Programs that include verbal description and touch tours are on the museum’s calendar monthly.
Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
2 East 91 Street (at Fifth Ave)
New York, NY 10128
Call: (212) 849-8400
Dynamic verbal description + sensory tours are offered monthly at Cooper Hewitt. Join a Cooper Hewitt educator, curator, or staff member in conversation and explore a selection of objects through detailed narration and touch.
1071 Fifth Ave (at East 88th Street)
New York, NY 10128
Call: (212) 360-4355
Monthly Mind’s Eye tours and workshops for visitors who are blind or have low vision are conducted by arts and education professionals through verbal description, conversation, sensory experiences, and creative practice. Mind’s Eye tours are free with an RSVP required one week before the program date.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82 St)
New York, NY 10028
Call: (212) 650-2010
The Met offers Touch Collection, Verbal Imaging Tours and Guided Touch Tours, to enhance the experience for people with vision loss, available upon request to individuals and groups. Picture This! workshops explore works of art through detailed description and touch.
Seeing Through Drawing workshops enable the artist in you to create your own work with the inspiration of the museum’s collection, verbal imaging, experimentation with techniques and materials.
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
Call: (212) 408-6347
Touch Tours are a very special experience, particularly at MoMA where you’ll get to touch a work of art by Picasso, Matisse or Rodin. Art InSight tours are scheduled monthly, offering exploration of the museum’s entire collection through vivid, detailed descriptions. Both tours are also offered by request.
Accessible audio guides with verbal description are available on the MoMA app and on MoMA.org. The museum will soon make audio description available for its movie screenings.
The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17 Street
New York, NY 10011
Call: (212) 620-5000
The Rubin Museum offers verbal description and sensory tours for visitors who are blind or partially sighted. These free tours, which include Museum admission, take visitors on a journey that weaves together the culture, history, religion, and art of the Himalayas.
108 Orchard Street (at Delancey Street)
New York, NY 10002
Call: (646) 518-3038
To experience the life of a 19th-century immigrant living in a tenement on New York’s Lower East Side, tours that combine verbal description and touch can be arranged for groups of 5 or more.
Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St
New York, NY 10014
Call: (212) 570-3600 or (212) 570-7789
The Whitney’s verbal description tours provide an opportunity to enjoy the twentieth- and twenty-first-century American art exhibitions with a museum educator trained to provide vivid, detailed verbal description of the works on display, while experiencing a selection of objects through touch. These free, 90-minute tours take place when the galleries are closed to the general public. Tours are held monthly as well as by request with three weeks advance notice.