Throughout the winter 2021 semester, the Owens has continued to be a “teaching museum,” with students in FINH 3301, Museums, Education and Engagement exploring the public dimension of museums with course instructor Lucy MacDonald, Curator of Education and Community Outreach.
Together, the students in this class have considered the many factors that shape museum experience and the ways that museums engage and connect with audiences and communities. Central to these conversations have been ideas of access and accessibility.
With the goal of providing opportunities for students to apply their research and learning, students developed visual descriptions for a selection of serigraphs by Alex Colville from the Owens collection. Visual descriptions give blind and low-vision visitors access to artworks through descriptions that are written in language that is vivid, specific and succinct. Focussing on the visual elements of artworks without interpretation or analysis, visual descriptions reflect universal design thinking, offering any visitor a new point of entry into an artwork.
The visual descriptions in this collection were developed through a process of close-looking, drafting, peer review and editing. Students then recorded their descriptions.
This special collection is available now on SoundCloud featuring descriptions by Ella Christison, Kayla Collins, Ruth Curry, Libbie Farrell, Daisy Graham, Kailey Haws, Miranda King, Alice Liu, Chloe Lundrigan, Victoria MacBeath, Brookie Martin, Nat Martin, Sophia Patrell, Laika Dadoun, Michelle Roy, Jasmine Saulnier, Shane Smith Bergeron and Stuart Trenholm.
The visual descriptions developed by students in this course make an important contribution to expanding accessibility at the Owens. The Owens is committed to reducing barriers to access with the goal of becoming a barrier-free facility within the next ten years.
Owens Art Gallery on SoundCloud
The serigraphs

In 2013, in memory of his late wife Rhoda (Wright) Colville, Alex Colville made a gift to the Owens Art Gallery of the complete set of thirty-five silkscreen prints produced by the artist during his lifetime. The first print, titled After Swimming, was made in 1955 and the last print, titled Willow, was made in 2002. The Owens Art Gallery is the only institution to own the complete set of Colville’s prints.
Image description: Within a large gallery space, unframed, matted prints by Alex Colville are displayed on tables. Students sit on chairs near the works, many writing in notebooks, while one uses a laptop. In the foreground, on the table nearest us, is a large circular composition depicting a crow with a silver spoon that flies upwards against a blue sky with scattered clouds.