Imagine attending the blockbuster exhibition Leonardo da Vinci lead by its curator while the museum is closed to the general public! Whether you call it relaxed, sensory inclusive, or autism-friendly, putting that word in front of the Louvre may seem like an oxymoron. Indeed, with over 10 million visitors per year, the iconic institution can be overwhelming even for the neurotypical population. The 4th biennial event, Accessibility Week 2020 welcomes neurodiversity with its theme Le Louvre en Tête. Literally translated en tête means “in mind” My idea of what that means is “mindful”. Despite the significant challenges such an environment poses for people on the autism spectrum with their own unique challenges, the Musée du Louvre has a humaine approach to welcoming visitors of all ages and abilities. Their reflection on how to best address those challenges is en tête or at the head of the agenda for Semaine de l’Accessibilité from Tuesday January 28 through Tuesday February 4, 2020.
The week of events is the occasion to discover what the Louvre Museum has to offer in terms of cultural programming and support for people with disabilities. It is also an opportunity for museum professionals, particularly those responsible for access and inclusion, to exchange ideas about the role the arts play and innovative ways to welcome and include all visitors. Lastly, it raises awareness among the general public of its commitment to improve the quality of the museum experience as well as community outreach for everyone with and without a disability. The week will begin with a private tour of Leonardo da Vinci for a group of visitors with visual impairment who had the foresight to register in advance. Its now fully booked but here are more events planned for visitors with disabilities:
Tuesday January 28, 2020 the Louvre will open to school groups (CLIS, ULIS, EREA) for a guided visit of La Petite Galerie. I have written about this space previously but the theme changes every year. Check out the dedicated website for the current exhibition, The Advent of the Artist. The virtual tour will help prepare for the visit.
Wednesday January 29, 2020, 3pm-4:30pm Inclusive visit for families whose children have intellectual and developmental disabilities and their siblings lead by Sœurs Lampions a duo of clown mimes.
Thursday January 30, 2020, 10am-11am Test visit with virtual reality headsets for blind and visually impaired museum visitors.
10am-11am Museum tour for and by people with an intellectual disability using an Easy to Read and Comprehend guide in French (FALC)
No clowning around masterpieces of art? Relax!
Saturday February 1, 2020, 2:30pm-4pm Inclusive visit for families whose children have intellectual and developmental disabilities and their siblings lead by Sœurs Lampions a duo of clown mimes.
6pm-9pm Night at the museum a.k.a. Nocturne du Samedi. Every first Saturday of the month starting at 6pm, the Louvre museum is free and open to the public. There are festive activities organized in collaboration with students from the Ecole du Louvre. To get an idea of what this looks like watch the video. If this sounds like a nightmare, rest assured that people with disabilities are welcomed in a privileged context by reserving in advance. I trust that the Accessibility Week version will be special.
Sunday February 2, 2020, 10:30am-noon Inclusive visit for families whose children have intellectual and developmental disabilities and their siblings lead by Sœurs Lampions a duo of clown mimes.
Tactile, auditory, or visual learners? Choose and use your senses
Tuesday February 4, 2020, exceptional visits while the museums are closed to the general public:
10:30am-noon A day in the life of Eugene Delacroix is a guided multi-sensory tour for people with disabilities in particular sensory impairment. It will take place at the Musée Delacroix which was formerly the artist’s home and garden.
1:30pm-3pm A guided tour of La Petite Galerie for groups with disabilities. The virtual tour on the dedicated website will help prepare for the visit. There are also 3 apps in French for visual, hearing, and cognitive impairment for the current exhibit, Figure d’Artiste. Click here The Advent of the Artist for information in English.
2:30pm-4pm A day in the life of Eugene Delacroix is a guided multi-sensory tour for people with disabilities in particular sensory impairment. It will take place at the Musée Delacroix which was formerly the artists home and garden.
3pm-4:30pm A guided tour of La Petite Galerie for groups with disabilities. The virtual tour on the dedicated website will help prepare for the visit. There are also 3 apps in French for visual, hearing, and cognitive impairment for the current exhibit, Figure d’Artiste. Click here, The Advent of the Artist for some information in English
Admission is free but space is limited so it is essential to reserve by email: email@example.com as soon as possible. Let them know if you have specific needs or require assistance.
In order to raise awareness among the general public, there are a few events during Semaine de l’Accessibilité open to people with and without disabilities:
Wednesday January 29, 2020, 3pm-4:30pm Inclusive education and the museum. A round table discussion addressing some of the challenges as well as solutions for including autistic students in the classroom and during a field trip. This will take place in a meeting room under the pyramid.
6pm Musical encounter with Valentine Goby author of Murène, a French novel about the resilience of a man who loses both arms after an accident. It retraces the history of the paralympics, which Paris will be hosting in 2024, through the man’s swimming. This will take place inside the Louvre museum.
Friday January 31, 2020, 6pm-7pm Meet Valerie Delattre, anthropologist and author of « Handicap : quand l’archeologie nous eclaire » The archeological studies of human remains and artifacts show that ancient families and communities included many people with a wide range of impairments. They were cared for but not economically dependent or segregated. This will take place inside the Louvre museum.
Monday February 3, 2020 6pm-7pm Presentation and projection of the film Hors Normes in the presence of screenwriter/directors Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, and the association Le Silence des Justes. This will take place inside the Louvre auditorium under the pyramid.
Again, you must reserve to attend. All activities are in French. A few will have French sign language. The clowns will use mime and French makaton, a form of alternative communication used by some non-verbal autistics.
Getting to the Louvre: This year the museum will introduce social narratives to help navigate the public transportation and multiple entrances. Also, downloadable sensory maps will show areas that are usually calm.
Bus: Lines 27,39,68,69,95 stop at the Carrousel roundabout in front of the pyramid.
Metro: Palais Royal/Musée du Louvre (lines 1 or 7)
Car: There is a drop off in front of the pyramid for taxis, cars and vans. A private parking garage, Q Park, is located under the Carrousel du Louvre shops.
Read my earlier post Louvre 101 for more information or visit the accessibility page. The French version has much more information and visuals but you can click on the red tab at the top right for English. I will be updating my post following the Semaine de l’Accessibilité .
Getting to the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix, 6 Rue de Fürstenberg, 75006 Paris
Bus: Lines 39, 63, 70, 86, 95, 96 (Saint-Germain-des-Prés stop)
Metro: Saint-Germain-des-Prés (line 4) Mabillon (line 10)
It is about a 15 minute walk from the Louvre. Visit the website (in English) for more detailed information and to prepare with the help of a video and visuals.
Questions and comments are welcome below.