Art can be alienating. From the white gloves to the white walls (to the global proliferation of White Cubes) nearly everything about the art world conspires to make art—especially contemporary art—as pristine and coolly distant from greasy-fingered admirers as possible.
Gallery and museum visitors tend to act accordingly. Step into an art space and voices automatically hush, the act of looking becomes a respectfully empty gaze of appreciation. Humans, possessed of five senses, defer to the art object by making sense of it through only one: sight. Everyone knows: don’t touch the art.
But there are exceptions. Artists and institutions like the Dia: Beacon (housed in an old Nabisco building in Beacon, New York) and Italy’s hikeable Arte Sella are also bringing the public a growing selection of art we can touch, climb, rest against and play with. Below, a few refreshingly interactive works from around the world.