From offering free admission to expanding barrier-free spaces through our recent lobby renovation, the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery is always looking for ways to make art accessible to as many people as possible. We look forward to taking these efforts one vital step further by introducing Sensory Friendly Saturdays starting in the new year.
On the first Saturday morning of ever month beginning from Saturday 4 January, 2020, all galleries and public spaces in KWAG will be programmed with reduced light and volume levels to provide a more welcoming environment for Autistic and neurodivergent individuals and any others who require or prefer environments with less visual and auditory stimuli. While KWAG has a long-standing policy of accommodating the special needs of our visitors by adjusting light and sound levels accordingly, these new standard hours create dedicated time and space for our guests to experience a welcoming environment that is already suited to their needs.
Gallery visitors explore Aislinn Thomas' A people's history of the sublime: TOTALITY (21.08.2017) at KWAG, 2018. Photo: Mike Lalich
We have been fortunate to receive the support and guidance of local artist Aislinn Thomas, who exhibited at KWAG in our 2018 exhibition, The Brain is wider than the Sky, and has presented and written extensively on the topic of access and the arts. As a disabled artist who thrives in low stimulation environments, both her practice and advocacy have foregrounded the creative potential found in negotiating barriers to access. Her installation for KWAG, A people’s history of the sublime: TOTALITY (21.08.2017), found human unity in a shared experience of being in the dark of the 2017 solar eclipse, while her recent project for the Banff Centre, A distinct aggregation / A dynamic equivalent / A generous ethic of invention: Six writers respond to six sculptures, drew on audio description to poetically replace the act of seeing with one of listening. Aislinn will be contributing a commissioned response to our upcoming Permanent Collection exhibition, The Myth of Consensus, that will build on this creative use of audio description, and her input has been instrumental in the introduction of Sensory Friendly Saturdays here at the Gallery.
Here's what visitors can expect when they visit on the first Saturday of the month from 10:00am to 12:00pm:
- Reduced lighting levels in the lobby
- Reduced volume on audio-visual artworks such as video projections
- Light level adjustment in video projection spaces to reduce contrasting darkness
- Relaxation area for visitors provided in our Community Access Space
We encourage our visitors to take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy a more relaxed environment in the new year, and continue to connect with our Visitor Services Team should you require any further accommodations to enjoy your art-viewing experience.