By Regan Shrumm, AGGV Curatorial Assistant
While the AGGV can be a quiet and relaxing place, this might not be the case for everyone. The bright gallery lights, the sounds from groups on tours, and films without headphones can be an overwhelming ordeal for some individuals.
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is a place for everyone, and in order to be an inclusive community space for all people, we need to be aware of what its guests might need and how we can provide a welcoming visit. The AGGV’s new sensory kits are toolkits that provide some extra support to help individuals stay relaxed and prevent from being overstimulated. Sensory kits are becoming more and more common throughout museums around North America, and were first made specifically for the neurodivergent community (this community is formed from individuals with neurological differences, which including A.D.H.D, Autism Spectrum, Tourette Syndrome, and many others). It is important not to assume that individuals in the neurodivergent community cannot handle going to a museum. But noise and light can induce stress for some individuals with neurodivergence, a few who may be less effective at self-regulating.
The AGGV encourages all ages and individuals who may become overwhelmed in the space to use the kits, even if you are not in the neurodivergent community. Each sensory kit includes a backpack, headphones to reduce noise, sunglasses to dim lights, stopwatch for time management, and sensory objects to fidget with. Coming in small and large sizes, the kits are available for free with admission at the front desk.
The sensory kits are a first step towards making the AGGV more accessible and are based on suggestions from a new accessibility audit completed by the gallery in 2019. The gallery is continuing to improve the audit’s solutions through consulting and collaborating with many different communities and organizations in order to improve our institution.
If you have any feedback on how to make your experience more accessible and welcoming, please email Regan Shrumm at firstname.lastname@example.org. The AGGV is not an expert in everyone’s needs, so your observations are very valuable for building a stronger gallery together.
Feature image: A pair of light blue and black earmuffs lay on a white background.