Working with deaf and hard of hearing visitors at Garage

Working with deaf and hard of hearing visitors at Garage

Garage's most important mission is expanding boundaries and removing barriers both in the physical dimension and in the public's minds—because this is precisely what contemporary art and contemporary cultural institutions do best.

Drawing attention to contemporary art and new forms of cultural leisure helps us to unite people. We believe that art should be accessible to everyone, for visitors both with and without disabilities.

The Museum's Inclusive Programs Department has been working with deaf and hard of hearing visitors for the past five years. From the very beginning, we have developed programs in collaboration with the deaf community—a community that confidently translates its culture and language. With respect to and acceptance of the values ​​shared by deaf and hard of hearing people, we want to speak the same language as them, which means that we aim to expand and strengthen this community. Using social networks, we maintain open communication with the deaf audience, thus "calibrating" our work. All of our activities are also free for deaf adults and young people.

Over the last five years, we have significantly enhanced the direction of working with the deaf and hard of hearing audience, moving on from experimental exploration of an unusual work format to the accumulation of experience and its transfer to other cultural institutions, including international ones. Experience exchange is achieved at our annual conference Experiencing the Museum.

Garage has, of course, formed its own pool of Russian sign language interpreters, pedagogues, and mediators, who accompany all of the adapted events, but what is much more important, deaf and hard of hearing people themselves work in the Museum. This creates a unique atmosphere and expands our capabilities. For example, even hearing Garage employees can communicate using sign language: all our cashiers and invigilators know the basics of RSL.

We develop guided tours for deaf and hard of hearing visitors to accompany each exhibition season. Many of our events—such as Family Days, talks, discussions, and masterclasses— are adapted for deaf and hard of hearing audiences. The translation of events into Russian Sign Language allows us to engage deaf and hard of hearing people in the exchange of knowledge, opinions, and experiences. Another effective initiative is the accompaniment of film screenings with Russian subtitles.

Special attention is paid to programs for children and teenagers. We design guided tours for kids and school pupils, as well as creative activities aimed at visitors aged three years and older. We also prepare thematic days and trips to Moscow schools for deaf children, where the course Museum for Beginners is delivered.

Deaf and hard of hearing people can visit the Museum individually and use a free video guide recorded in RSL. Alternatively, they can visit Garage as part of a group. Tours for deaf and hard of hearing visitors are conducted by deaf guides. The (year-long) training course for deaf guides has become our longest, most significant, and unique project within the Russian context. We have taught professional guides not only for our own institution but also for other museums. Today, our guides who graduated at the end of 2017 efficiently deliver tours in the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, and Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve.

Our work with the deaf community is work without borders, meaning we are always interested in experimenting with new interaction formats and happily share our experience. For instance, we ran the show Co-thinkers with a curatorial team that included people with disabilities in Yekaterinburg in 2017 and Nizhny Novgorod in 2019. Garage also designed and implemented a public program for deaf and hard of hearing visitors to the International Specialized Exhibition ASTANA EXPO–2017 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

Below you will find more information about our projects, completed as well as ongoing. You can also check the schedule of current events and programs.

If you want to organize a tour for a school group or for visitors from other cities and countries, please write to us at

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Relevant links:

  1. Our deaf guides
  2. Video Dictionary of Contemporary Art Terms in RSL
  3. Video Dictionary of environmental terms in RSL
  4. Signing Museum for Kids: an art dictionary for children in RSL
  5. Museum for Beginners
  6. How to get a video guide in RSL in the Museum
  7. Methodical guidelines for museum work with visitors with disabilities (in Russian)