Museum Musings: Singapore Art Museum Introduces SAM Touch Collection, Specially for the Visually-Impaired Community

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Utama’s Cat (Adaptation)

The Singapore Art Museum has introduced the all new SAM Touch Collection today, one of several initiatives by SAM to extend the contemporary art experience to audiences of all backgrounds and abilities. The SAM Touch Collection, as its name suggests, comprises art specifically developed to travel and engage with the visually-impaired community.

Utama’s Cat (Original)

The development of the SAM Touch Collection began back in 2014, with focus group discussions and consultations with international institutions, visually impaired persons, artists and professionals, eventually culminating in the current collection. These works currently include three adaptations of existing Singaporean artwork in the museum’s collection, namely David Chan’s Utama’s Cat, a SAM Front Lawn commission in 2015; Justin Lee’s East & West, presented at the Singapore Art Show at SAM in 2009; and Zulkifle Mahmod’s Raising Spirits and Restoring Souls, commissioned for SAM’s 5 Stars exhibition in 2015.

East Meets West (Adaptation)

To cater to the needs of the visually impaired community, the artwork adaptations are accompanied by supplementary resources and materials, such as audio guides and reproductions of finer artwork details to enhance interaction and understanding. More works are currently in the pipeline to be produced, as a growing collection that will also be made available for other community groups, such as the elderly and those with special needs, after more research has been carried out.

Raising Spirits and Restoring Souls (Original)

Beyond the Touch Collection, the museum has been working on making contemporary art accessible to audiences with special needs by providing opportunities for more inclusive interactions, such as the 2017 initiative “Quiet Hour at SAM”, a programme that provides free transportation to and from the museum for closed-door access to SAM’s exhibitions, as well as tailored tours and workshops for special needs visitors. In the same year, SAM established a Quiet Room at the museum, ensuring children or visitors with special needs have a calming space to retreat to, should they become over-stimulated by external environments or interactions.

Raising Spirits and Restoring Souls (Adaptation)

Says Wang Tingting, Manager of Programmes (Education) at SAM:“The creation of the SAM Touch Collection reflects the changing roles of museums, where audience engagement goes beyond observation and reflection, to interaction and creation of experiences that are active, personal and inclusive. Contemporary art should be accessible to all communities, and the development of programmes like Quiet Hour at SAM and the SAM Touch Collection are first steps in rolling out the type of programming that we intend to facilitate in the future at the museum.”

The SAM Touch Collection and other access programmes are available for booking by schools or community groups. For more information, please visit www.singaporeartmuseum.sg or email education@singaporeartmuseum.sg

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