Museum Trends: Special Tours for Blind Visitors


An America Insight tour at the Smithsonian Art Museum. Image from:

Specially trained docents at the Smithsonian Art Museum in Washington, D.C. give America InSight tours twice a month to blind and visually impaired patrons. Docents describe what a work of art looks like, ask visitors to imitate the pose of a sculpture, and help create a sense of the piece by asking questions such as “Can you hear the jazz music playing? Can you smell the cigarettes?” One docent is even known for playing piano music to explain a painting of a woman at a piano.

In some instances, patrons are invited to touch the art in latex-free gloves. A middle school girl once ran her hands down a sculpture and said that the piece depicted a pregnant woman. Certain docents had never even realized the woman portrayed was pregnant, which shows just how powerful our other senses can be when analyzing art.

To learn more about America Insight tours, please visit:

Amy Shirer ’18



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