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Discovering art through sensory perception

At the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven, the exhibition “Delinking and Relinking” brings together the potential of works of art and the human senses for a new experience. A way of apprehending the museum field by offering a singular reading linked to societal issues.

Featuring 120 works of art from the Van Abbe Museum’s 3,000-strong collection, the exhibition “Delinking and Relinking” invites visitors on an original immersive tour. This is the first display of a fully multi-sensory collection in the Netherlands.

Form and content are inseparable


From the outset, the purpose and the scenographic intention approach art in a more direct way, by appealing to the human senses: hearing, sight, smell, touch. “Museums are places that bring together heritage and the past in order to show the present and connect visitors to the collections through stories, in the 21st century society that has become more participatory,” explains Charles Esche, director of the museum. For once, it is not unusual to be able to touch some of the works, to listen to the expression of different, lesser known voices.

Exhibition ``Delinking and Relinking'', Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven © Joep Jacobs

The exhibition covers more than a century of art history. In a chronological journey, it reveals how the great artists from 1900 to the present day, address the great questions of our time, and how their works are directly linked to what they see, feel and live around them.

Exhibition ``Delinking and Relinking'', Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven © Joep Jacobs

Issues related to the context


Since 1936, the Van Abbe Museum has been developing innovative museum experiences that explore the links between art and society. The main themes of the tour are divided into three periods on the five floors of the museum. In the basement as a preamble, the history of the museum. On the second floor, the European perspectives of the first half of the 20th century, with artists such as Wilfredo, Pablo Picasso, Ossip Zadkine, Marc Chagall, Joan Miro, El Lissitzky.

Exhibition ``Delinking and Relinking'', Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven © Joep Jacobs

On the second floor, the utopias of the 60s to 80s are echoed, notably with the video of a 1970 community housing project in Eindhoven, built without interior walls, by architect Frans van Klingeren. On the third floor, environmental issues, racial inequalities, gender, are highlighted by the gallery Proud Rebels which advocated the emancipation of women, artists such as Sanja Ivekovic, Gülsün Karamustafa, Marlene Dumas, Iris Kensmil and Laure Prouvost.

A multi-sensory and accessible course


Beyond the multi-sensory aspect, the exhibition “Delinking and Relinking” offers 5 different multimedia tours that combine more than 25 digital tools so that the viewer communicates reciprocally with the works. Included are Braille texts, perfume interpretations, tactile drawings and soundscapes… Parents and children will choose a “Family Tour”, while others will go on a “Love Lettres Tour” to understand the emotional link between visitors and artworks.

Exhibition ``Delinking and Relinking'', Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven © Joep Jacobs

While enriching the museum experience for people of all ages, the focus is on a pathway for visually and hearing impaired visitors and people with limited mobility. For this reason, the exhibition was designed in collaboration with experts in the field of physical accessibility, a long-standing working relationship with the museum.

Anne Swynghedauw