Two days before our fieldtrip I injured my back. Needless to say, I was in a lot of pain and could barely walk. So, the day we went to visit the museum I was offered to be pushed around the exhibition on a wheelchair.
It was a very interesting experience looking at an exhibition from a wheelchair, when it’s designed for people of normal stature. Most of the artwork hanging on the walls I could appreciate, but some were too high, so I had to be pushed back to be able to see them. Some pieces were on display encased over tables, where it was very difficult for me to actually see what was in there because of the angle I could look from. What was very delighting to see on a wheelchair was the section in the exhibition where the museum was showing contemporary videos. The video exhibition is designed for people to sit and watch, as I can assess by all the chairs placed in auditorium mode in front of the screen. There, I felt comfortable appreciating the exhibition that was designed to be looked at from my angle.
Although I'm aware that most exhibition designs are created with the average walking person in mind, it got me thinking about all the people who cannot walk around a show as I did that day. Can we really design exhibitions that will accommodate both the walking viewer and the public in wheelchairs? Perhaps we should reconsider alternative angles of viewing artwork that are not necessarily in an upright standing position. We build museums and gallery spaces that are wheelchair accessible, but what about the exhibitions? I hope we can integrate all public into exhibition making, no matter from which physical position they may view artworks.
-- CLAUDIA SCHIDLOW