Museum: A Whole New World for Blind People

The first museum, where even blind people can experience the art with their hands.

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“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”  Well said Thomas Merton! But there remains a group of people,  among whom this art remains undiscovered for their entire lives. Untouched from these masterpieces, they miss an important element of creativity in their lives.

Here is something about the historical masterpieces of an art museum that always introduce this nagging sensation in me. Looking at the work of Da Vinci is one thing- but for some reason I always have a strong urge to touch it. Unfortunately, museum guards are always strategically placed to prevent the harmful oils on visitors’ hands from corroding artwork. But, what happens for those who don’t have the luxury of only looking? Ones, for whom feeling the things matters more than just seeing them, This was a question that Madrid’s Prado Museum confronted, realizing that offering audio or braille guides was simply not enough. For the blind to thoroughly enjoy its collection they decided to break the “no touching” rule by creating intricate 3-D replicas of key works which the visually impaired could physically read.

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The technique was developed by Estudios Durero and is called “Didú”, which not just allows the works to be produced in rich texture but also in full colour. Many who are considered blind, still possess limited vision and for this reason they wanted to reproduce the full tones of the masterpieces.

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Art appreciation through touch creates a revolution for visually impaired people when it comes to experiencing art and allowing them to “see” art again. It also provides a new avenue of artistic involvement for everyone. Even the most archaic classics become unbelievably exciting when perceived through an alternate sense. The museum provides masks to full-sighted people so that even those with the comfort of sight can have the opportunity to experience art in a profound new way.

Filling some colors in the lives of such people with impaired vision, this initiative by “Madrid’s Prado Museum” is worth appreciating.