UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Re-framing disability

 'Re-framing disability' examined portraits of disabled people from the 17th to 19th century in the collections of the Royal College of Physicians, London.

The project aimed to reduce the cultural invisibility of disabled people in traditional museum displays, building on the work of the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, University of Leicester.

The exhibition explored a number of questions raised by the historical portraits. Who were the focus of these images? Why were the images created? Did people in other eras look at disability in different ways?

Discussions with 27 disabled participants raised further questions around themes of employment, control and representation. Are we still as curious about difference as we were 200 years ago? Are there more positive images of disabled people today? Do disabled people today have more control over how they are represented?

The project culminated in an exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians from 14 February to 8 July 2011, to tour venues throughout 2011-2012.

Carole Reeves and Dr Julie Anderson, University of Kent, worked with heritage staff from the College to explore these issues and create the exhibition.

'Re-framing disability' won the Ability Media International (AMI) ‘Visual Arts Award 2011’. The international panel of judges described it as ‘inspired’ and ‘challenging’.

Click on the image below to go to the 'Re-framing disability' website.