Art in the Dark

Art in the dark: Sensory workshops for inclusive art appreciation

Dream: Inspired by the goal of making art accessible to everyone, regardless of their visual ability, Art in the Dark was envisioned as a unique opportunity to engage with art through hearing, touch, and smell. This project aimed to create a cultural experience that could be enjoyed by all, breaking down barriers to art appreciation.

Idea: The concept originated from Bartek Lis, Head of Education at ZAMEK, who, along with Magdalena Skowrońska, had experience in conducting sensory workshops for the blind and visually impaired. Art in the Dark was developed as an innovative online project to bring art closer to people during the pandemic, making use of sensory experiences to connect participants with visual art in a novel way.

Realization: The ZAMEK Culture Centre in Poznań launched Art in the Dark as a series of remote sensory workshops. Comprising 14 episodes—10 audio and 4 video—alongside educational materials, these workshops were designed to be accessible and asynchronous, allowing participants to engage with art at their own pace.

Challenges and solutions: Transitioning sensory experiences to an online format posed a unique challenge, especially in maintaining engagement and ensuring accessibility. The solution involved creating content that leveraged storytelling techniques rather than mere descriptive narratives, making the art experience more immersive and enjoyable for participants.

Innovation: This project stood out by offering an inclusive approach to art appreciation, specifically tailored to both the blind and visually impaired community and sighted individuals curious about experiencing art through other senses. The workshops' design, focusing on narrative and sensory engagement, introduced a new dimension to remote art education.

Effect: Art in the Dark succeeded in broadening the cultural offerings for adults at the onset of the pandemic, inviting audiences to experience current exhibitions at ZAMEK and explore visual art through alternative senses. Feedback from participants and the project's adherence to WCAG 2.0 standards for accessibility underscored its impact.

Target audience: The primary audience includes blind and visually impaired individuals, as well as sighted participants interested in a sensory exploration of art. This inclusive approach highlights the project's commitment to making art accessible and enjoyable for a diverse audience.

Sustainability: The asynchronous nature of the workshops ensures long-term accessibility and participation. Educational materials provided enable other educators and animators to replicate the workshops, either online or offline, further extending the project's reach and impact.

Digital tools: The project utilized straightforward digital components, including a WCAG 2.0 compliant website, audio and video recordings, and downloadable workshop materials. This simplicity ensured ease of access while maintaining the quality of the sensory art experience.

Funding: Art in the Dark received financial support from both the NCK's Culture Online program and the ZAMEK Culture Centre's own resources, illustrating a collaborative effort to innovate cultural accessibility and engagement.

Future: The continued availability and sustainability of Art in the Dark workshops pave the way for ongoing exploration and appreciation of art through senses beyond sight, enriching the cultural landscape and fostering a more inclusive art community.

Responsible institution: ZAMEK Culture Centre in Poznan
Good practice link:
Address: ul. Św. Marcin 80/82, 61-809 Poznań, Polska
Contact person on good practice: Bartek Lis - Public Programme Curator, Public Programme Department, ZAMEK Culture Centre, originator & co-creator of the project: