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Sight Loss Council pilot with Royal Collection Trust opens up masterpieces to visually impaired people

A pilot online art description project involving six members from Gloucestershire, Bristol, Merseyside and the Black Country Sight Loss Councils has led Royal Collection Trust to launch monthly sessions, opening up masterpieces from the Royal Collection to blind and partially sighted people. 

Royal Collection Trust (RCT), the charity which manages the public opening of the Official Residences of The Queen and cares for the Royal Collection, hosts regular exhibitions to provide public access to the royal art collection. 

For every exhibition it hosts, RCT runs descriptive tours designed for blind and partially sighted people at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.  With the increased restrictions for people visiting, RCT trialled an online session with Sight Loss Council members.  The Descriptive Zoom was so successful it will now be offering these sessions every month from December to March. 

Steven Ewens from the Bristol Sight Loss Council said:

“I am very proud to have been involved in this pilot project and influence RCT to put regular descriptive sessions online for blind and partially sighted people to enjoy.  The session itself was fascinating. The curators were so knowledgeable and truly brought the masterpieces to life as they described the painting and gave a bit of information on its history and the painter. It was brilliant!”

Amy Stocker, Access Manager, Royal Collection Trust, said:

“Covid was the stimulus that made us look at how we can still provide access to the Collection to blind and partially sighted people.  We had never done these digitally before but the pilot was so successful, we decided to make this a monthly Descriptive Zoom event.”

Amy continued:

“Art experts from RCT will describe the paintings and bring these to life while its historians will provide a background to the artists.  Attendees will be able to ask questions.  We want it to be really interactive.”

The sessions, free for blind and partially sighted people to attend, will take place on the first Tuesday of every month.  A painting from the Collection, usually on display in one of The Queen’s official royal residencies, will be described. This will include masterpieces from Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Sessions will last about an hour and interaction is encouraged. Spaces are limited. For more information and to book a place please email amy.stocker@rct.uk or call 07860 612393.

The new Descriptive Zoom sessions form part of the events programme for RCT’s new exhibition: Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace, which runs from 1 December 2020 to January 2022.  More information on the full exhibition: www.rct.uk/about/press-office/press-releases/masterpieces-from-buckingham-palace