Verbal Description Audio Guide Now Available Online

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A Verbal Description tour at the Guggenheim. Photo: Peter Snyder

The Guggenheim recently released a Verbal Description audio guide of select works from the Thannhauser Collection on Guggenheim.org and SoundCloud. Designed for people who are blind or have low vision, Verbal Description uses precise, evocative language to convey the visual appearance of art, which is equally valuable for sighted visitors seeking closer observation of works of art. The Thannhauser guide presents not only descriptions but also contextual information for key artworks from the Thannhauser Collection, plus a history of the collection and a description of the gallery space that holds it. The audio is freely available to stream from home or on your phone while you are at the museum.

One of the key works in the Verbal Description guide is Pablo Picasso’s Woman Ironing (1904). Starting with the scale and orientation of the canvas, the description portrays the central figure, “a tall, very thin woman with particularly long limbs and angular features.” Her activity is described as ironing “on a flat surface” that is “perhaps a tabletop,” though “it is not clear what she is ironing.” This depth of detail articulates what is explicitly depicted in the painting and calls attention to visual nuances that might be overlooked. In this way, Verbal Description heightens the listener’s perception of the detail of artworks as well as assumptions at play in observation. Listen to the description for Woman Ironing and the rest of the guide of the Thannhauser Collection.

Verbal Description guides are part of the Guggenheim’s accessibility programs for visitors with disabilities. Learn more about the museum’s accessibility programs and about the Thannhauser Collection.

A Mind’s Eye program at the Guggenheim, which uses Verbal Description. Photo: Peter Snyder