Museum Launching Program for Russia’s Disabled
Art And Culture

Museum Launching Program for Russia’s Disabled

A new initiative at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow aims to make the institution more hospitable to disabled visitors.
The program is uncharted territory for Russia, where disabled people have historically lacked equal access to cultural institutions and disabled children have been shut out of mainstream schools, artnewspaper.com reported.
Despite new laws that went into effect in January banning discrimination against the disabled, “we have this legacy of the Soviet period, when people with disabilities were largely segregated”, says Maria Sarycheva, the coordinator of Garage’s department of inclusive programs. (Although some Russian institutions, including the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, offer disability services, most do not facilitate full access to galleries for all disabled visitors).
“For the general Russian audience, there is a lack of information on contemporary art,” says Garage’s curator Anastasia Mityushina. For blind, deaf or otherwise disabled visitors, the amount of easily accessible information “is like 1% of that”, she says.
Garage hopes the Co-Thinkers exhibition—the first in a series of annual projects co-produced with four collaborators with different disabilities — that will run till September 9, will help change that. The show brings together 18 works by 17 contemporary artists including Maurizio Cattelan, Robert Rauschenberg and James Turrell, among others that in some way examine or alter perception. All of the works are on loan from Moscow-based private collectors.
The show also includes 3D models of each object that all visitors can touch. To fully experience the exhibition, “you do not need to come to reception and announce your disability—you just come and explore”, Mityushina says.
In September, Garage plans to host around 50 curators, education and other museum professionals from across the country for its second annual training session on inclusion and disability services. This year’s program will focus on increasing access for deaf visitors.
The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art is a major art museum in Moscow. It is the permanent home of an expanding collection of modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year. The museum was established in 2008 by Russian Dasha Zhukova, as a non-profit project.


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