Mind’s Eye at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Since 2009, Ornellaia has donated all the proceeds from its Vendemmia d’Artista charity auctions, generously overseen by Sotheby’s, in favour of art foundations and museums all over the world. From 2019, the Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista project raises funds to support the growth of this particular program at the Guggenheim. This program, created by the Guggenheim’s education department, helps individuals who are blind or have low vision experience art through all their senses. When all senses are invoked, possibilities expand for making imaginative impressions, emotional connections, and long-lasting memories. The appreciation of art and great wines involves all the senses, and it is this idea that has inspired Ornellaia to support the growth of this particular program. The funds generated by the Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista project will allow the Guggenheim Museum to further develop the program and ensure that its excellence continues to lead the way in museum programming for people who are blind or have low vision.

Mind’s Eye began at the Guggenheim as an onsite program to accommodate visitors who are blind or have low vision. In its infancy, the program was comprised of a series of stops in front of artworks, each of which followed a similar pattern: a verbal description provided by the educator leading the tour, followed by a group discussion of the themes and context surrounding the artwork.

While verbal description and conversation are still the heart of the program, ensuring all participants have the opportunity to build a mental image of the artwork and to share their own thoughts and opinions, the program has matured throughout its decade-long lifespan. Program participants have led art-making workshops, a wide array of sensory learning tools have been developed, and all educators leading the program have received ongoing training from experts in the field.

In addition, Mind’s Eye learnings have led to an increased attention to accessibility for all museum staff and visitors. Mind’s Eye program participants have been hired to lead training for Guggenheim staff on how to vividly describe artwork to visitors. Verbal description audioguide tracks now regularly accompany the general audioguide available to all museum visitors. Other museum departments, including Visitor Experience, Security, Curatorial, lnteractive, and more have increasingly planned and trained to make the museum’s offerings accessible to people who are blind or have low vision.