EFC AGA 2016: Museum accessibility


Valia Fragkou


How can a monothematic museum be successful? How can it attract 2 million visitors a year? During our visit at the Van Gogh Museum we were exposed to a plethora of ways. It is not only about Van Gogh. It’s about what inspired him, his friends, the letters he wrote to his brother, the places where he lived, how he evolved as a person and as an artist.

All of these subtopics and many more are part of the museum’s experience and exhibits. The museum organizes very creative temporary exhibitions with themes that are related to Van Gogh, his life and thematology, directly or indirectly. Additionally, it is frequented by the youth through the organization of popular social events. The variety of items sold in the museum’s store is such that no visitor leaves without a purchase.

But on Thursday night it was all about the way they define accessibility. Providing an accessible space does not suffice. The collections have to also be accessible. This is why the Van Gogh Museum created the innovative “Feeling Van Gogh” program. It is an interactive program for the blind and visually impaired with their seeing friends, family members and caregivers who during their visit they can feel high-quality 3D relief reproductions of Van Gogh’s paintings. The program is fully booked for 2016 and 2017.

Valia Fragkou, Senior Advisor, TIMA Charitable Foundation

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