Translations for audio-video guides: the secret of giving art and culture a voice

Italy is a wonderful country, steeped in art, history and culture. Working closely with cultural institutions and museums gives the STUDIO TRE team the opportunity to discover the extent of Italy’s cultural wealth on a daily basis.

Over the past weeks, we have been able to experience a new way of visiting museums and art galleries. By downloading an app on your mobile phone or simply navigating the web, it is possible to explore the treasures stored in our museums from the comfort of home: from the Egyptian Museum in Turin to the Uffizi, from the Vatican Museums to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, thanks to a simple click, visitors from all over the globe can use virtual tours to discover our artistic and cultural wealth.

Both the direct visit “in person” and the virtual tour share something in common that makes our experience inside museums unique: the audio or video guide. This article aims to reveal the skills used by speakers and voice over artists to give art and culture a voice.


Translating for art

Art is made of emotions. When we linger in front of a painting, sculpture or photograph, and pause to look at it for minutes or hours, we do this because the works transmit emotions.

The challenge faced by translators translating for art is very similar to the challenges faced by the food and wine translator who, through their words, is able to make us almost taste or smell the scent of the dish we are about to choose from the menu. Instead of flavours, colours, materials and shapes instil sensations inside us, which probably also inspired the author when they created the work of art.

Therefore, artistic translations need a creative approach combined with a command of very technical lexicons. In fact, the translators need to know:

  • The various techniques and different materials used to create the works;
  • the history of the art, fundamental to be able to place the works in the correct era;
  • the figures of speech, used widely in the descriptive texts about the works of art;
  • the storytelling techniques; storytelling lies at the basis of this type of content.

Texts used to create audio-video guides have a precise structure which must be reflected in the translation: in just a few minutes, the text must tell you something about the author, the artistic era, explain the subject of the work, the style, meaning, history and reveal any unusual facts.


From translating the text to the storytelling voice of the audio-video guide

Translating the text is the first step in creating audio and video guides. The process to create the narrative that guides us through the discovery of a painting or sculpture involves many professional figures.

Once the text has been translated and reviewed, native speaker voice-over artists record the audio tracks. In the case of video guides, specialised translators create the subtitles which accompany the voice-over and describe the images, 3D reconstructions and interactive maps.

The choice of the narrator’s voice is fundamental: each work of art has its own personality and the speaker has the difficult task of making the work emerge, capturing each detail and, at the same time, entertaining the listener.


Thanks to our collaborators expert in audiovisual translation and our partnership with voice-over studios, STUDIOTRE is the language consultant of various cultural organisations in Italy for the translation of audio and video guides. If you would like to find out more about how we give art a voice, write to us at or call us on (+39) 0522 323434.


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