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Van Abbemuseum invites guests to see, touch, hear and smell art

The Van Abbemuseum opens a multi-sensory exhibition of artworks that can be seen, touched, heard and smelled.

van abbemuseum multi-sensory exhibit

The Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, Netherlands has opened a multi-sensory exhibition featuring 120 artworks that can be seen, touched, heard and smelled.

‘Delinking and Relinking’ at the Van Abbemuseum spans all five floors of the institution. It invites guests to experience art differently by using their senses, such as touch, sight, smell and hearing.

“The intention is to liberate the objects and give them a value and importance for today,” said Charles Esche, Van Abbemuseum director.

“I believe this is the fundamental and unchanging task of every museum,” he added. “What is changing now is the nature of the stories that are told and the people who voice them.

‘Delinking and Relinking’ at Van Abbemuseum

van abbemuseum multi-sensory exhibit

“It is no longer only the owners, curators and gatekeepers of the museum that own a museum’s narratives. In the participative society of the 21st century, people from different backgrounds and experiences demand the right to be heard.”

The Van Abbemuseum said Delinking and Relinking represents the first, fully multi-sensory collection display in the Netherlands. The exhibition consists of three main chapters, each on a different floor.

The exhibition includes more than 25 multi-sensory tools, including texts in Braille, scent interpretations, tactile drawings and soundscapes.

Delinking and Relinking will enrich the museum experience for everyone, the museum said. It is accessible to a wide audience, including visually or hearing-impaired visitors and wheelchair users.

First multi-sensory exhibition in the Netherlands

van abbemuseum multi-sensory exhibit

Sponsored by the VriendenLoterij, the exhibition runs through mid-­2024. In February 2022, it will be expanded with, among others, a gallery dedicated to the work of Dutch artist René Daniëls.

“Museums are places that collect the past and show it in the present,” Esche said. “The main means to connect collections with people has been by telling stories to museum visitors.”

Earlier this year, the Van Gogh Museum partnered with fragrance brand Floral Street to develop scents celebrating the artwork of Van Gogh.

Elsewhere, Odeuropa is creating the first-ever Smell Museum. The Mauritshuis, an art museum in the Hague, recently put on an exhibition called ‘Fleeting – Scents in Colour’ where visitors can smell the artworks.

Images: Van Abbemuseum

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Bea Mitchell

Bea is a journalist specialising in entertainment, attractions and tech with 10 years' experience. She has written and edited for publications including CNET, BuzzFeed, Digital Spy, Evening Standard and BBC. Bea graduated from King's College London and has an MA in journalism.

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