Inclusive approaches to ‘China and Egypt’

Neues Museum

The special exhibition ‘China and Egypt: Cradles of the World’ offers a variety of ways of approaching the works on display which aim to make them accessible for everyone. There are ‘touch objects’, an audio-guide in Simple Language, and a wide-ranging programme of educational events for visitors both with and without disabilities.

Eight replicas from the Shanghai Museum and the Staatliche Museen’s Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung allow visitors to explore the diversity of forms and textures of Chinese and Egyptian objects by actually handling them. The ‘touch objects’ include a jade necklace, a bronze sculpture of the cat-goddess Bastet, a make-up mirror, a stone sculpture of the scribe Henka, and a glazed pottery sculpture of a dog. They can be found at seat height in niches in the display cabinets, allowing visitors to enjoy them sitting down and making them easily accessible for children and wheelchair users. For visitors with visual impairments, there are Braille versions of the object labels and texts.

There is also an audio-guide of the exhibition in Simple Language. Simple Language is useful, for example, for people with a limited knowledge of German and people with learning difficulties. It supplements the audio-guide in Simple Language which has been available at the Neues Museum since 2016. Induction loops can also be obtained for use either with the audio-guide or with guided tours.

A wide-ranging and inclusive educational programme is offered for visitors both with and without disabilities. There are exhibition talks for adults, some of which are specially tailored for people with visual impairments, and others for the deaf. Families with children, disabled or not, can explore the exhibition through an inclusive workshop. All the inclusive events feature multisensory approaches to the exhibits and information on display, and make use of objects which, like the ‘touch objects’ integrated into the exhibition itself, provide tactile experiences. Events are led by art or cultural educators, who may themselves be visually impaired or may be joined by a sign-language interpreter. An inclusive workshop for schoolchildren, including children with disabilities, can also be booked.

The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin is trying to incorporate more and more inclusive events into its educational programme. Since autumn 2016, for example, we have been offering one-day workshops and holiday programmes lasting several days for children, with and without disabilities, and their parents. ‘China and Egypt: Cradles of the World’ is the first special exhibition for which we have developed a comprehensive inclusive programme for a spectrum of different user groups.