Access to heritage and culture is a fundamental right of all people, regardless of identity or opportunity. In Europe and beyond many museums are increasing their accessibility in order to give access to their collection to people with disability and special needs. Private museums and foundations already set accessibility as one of their programmatic priorities to enable everyone’s enjoyment of them as a means to transmit our rich cultural heritage. Access to collections for people with sensory or learning disabilities remains a great challenge, however, many innovative solutions have been developed and put into practice – these can be used to inspire good practice as well as scaling up.

Philanthropy House is for the first time hosting Divina Natura, an exhibition that is accessible to all including those with sensory and learning disabilities. The EFC used this opportunity to provide a platform to discuss the challenges of and solutions to cultural heritage accessibility for all. Experts got together on this occasion to discuss the importance of the different aspects related to museum accessibility.

Underpinning this discussion and a key driver to cede positive change more widely will be to share and spread learning about what works; to evaluate how and why certain approaches work and to consider what impact looks like in this context for communities, museums and the development of accessible cultural heritage.

A quotation from Gandhi kicked off the roundtable, that “no culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive.” Inspired by a visit to the Divina Natura exhibition by Francoise Reynette (Artesens), participants’ first feelings were very positive. Some wore masks in order to experience the exhibition from a blind person’s point of view and remarked that although they were guided by the voice of the curator they still felt “untrained” because their other senses were not as attuned as a blind person’s.

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Photos from the roundtable and opening of Divina Natura exhibition