Accessing the Museum

Tuesday May 3rd, 2016
7pm – 9pm
Arts Court
Ottawa Art Gallery
2 Daly Avenue, Ottawa, ON

Ottawa Art Gallery and Tangled Art + Disability presented a community discussion and public talk on museum accessibility. Guest speakers Carmen Papalia and David Garneau each presented perspectives on how public cultural institutions risk disabling and marginalizing their audiences by failing to provide them with meaningful ways of connecting to the content and design of their exhibitions and programs. Both Papalia and Garneau advocate for expanded definitions of access that go beyond standard “best practices” for museum accessibility, to consider the social and cultural barriers created and enforced through institutional habits and colonial privilege.

“I identify as a disabled person but I recognize that the conditions that disable me are external and not situated within my body. I identify under an open definition of disability that can include anyone that lives within a system that they have little or no control over, and which does not accommodate their needs as an individual—and therefore, which does not allow them to thrive. […]Contrary to their purpose, access programs do not make the museum more accessible to me, they subjugate the ways in which I learn and govern my participation in contemporary art.”

Carmen Papalia, from: “How I Found a Way into Museums”.
“Touch is the taboo of Western-style museums. They are sites of discipline. They demand that individuals control themselves, particularly that we repress touch, taste and smell in order to sharpen vision and imagination.”

The instructive deconstruction examines institutional designs that discourage access not only to disabled people but to anyone who is incomprehensible or incidental to its imaginary.
– David Garneau, “Marginalization by Design”, Border Crossings, March 2016


June 2, 2015, 7-9pm
University of Ottawa, Social Sciences Building
120 University Private, Rm 4007
Ottawa, Ontario

Co-presented with The Ottawa Art Gallery / La Galerie d’art d’Ottawa
Tangled Art + Disability and the Canadian Disability Studies Association-Association Canadienne des Études sur l’Incapacité in conjunction with Congress 2015 presented artists with disabilities for an evening of poetry, dance and music. Featuring poet Eli Clare, dance troupe Propeller Dance and music artist, Bucko.

Go back to Exhibits.