Art is often called a universal language that transcends words. But in a museum setting, words are needed for patrons to have a complete experience — whether it’s to understand the context for art on display, to credit artists or just to find the bathroom.
Laura Herrera, chief communications and content officer at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, said the pandemic gave the institution time to reflect on how it could present to visitors in a way that better meets their needs.
“For the MCA, it really means creating a space that is offering the same experience for Spanish speakers as it does for English speakers,” Herrera said. “We’re looking at every single aspect and touch point where language plays a role in the relationship that the museum has with its visitors and ensuring that we’re meeting the needs of Spanish, English and bilingual speakers.”
The MCA’s first major bilingual exhibition, “Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s-Today” is running through April 23. Herrera said the museum is working to update everything — from front line visitor services to wayfinding signs to its website — in both languages by 2024.