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Art Museums for the Blind

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You Are in an Art Museum and You Are Blind

Imagine that you are blind. How can you visit a museum to see the art? This blog writes about  the tools of the New Media are used to make art accessible to everyone, everywhere. When we consider the accessibility of art , we often do so from the perspective of space, time, and economics. What about sight?

“With the aim of making art accessible to everyone, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is making available two prototypes to visually impaired visitors that will enable them, by means of touch, to appreciate the colours in a painting by Alfred Pellan in the MMFA’s collection.”

“Developed by Patricia Bérubé, a master’s student in art history at the Université de Montréal, this novel tool on display in the level S1 in the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion gives people with a visual disability a new way to connect with art.”

“This initiative, which involves Alfred Pellan’s 1948 work Banner of the exposition “Prisme d’Yeux” opens up new avenues for enriching the museum experience of visitors dealing with barriers, including difficulties with perceiving colour and two-dimensional images such as those in painting. ”

Tactile Vision

“With a background in 3D animation and art history, Patricia Bérubé is especially interested in tactile perception in the blind and the visually impaired. As part of her master’s project, which she began in September 2016, she has developed two prototypes for the tactile interpretation of a two-dimensional work. These separate prototypes render the shapes and colours of Pellan’s Banner of the exposition “Prisme d’Yeux” in relief. Chosen for its simple, clearly delineated shapes, the work was reproduced on a sheet of Plexiglas in half-size scale, by combining 3D printing techniques and silicone moulds.

The first prototype re-creates the contours of the work’s geometric shapes (rectangles, circles, diamonds, triangles) in relief so that the configuration can be understood by the fingertips.

The second (see above image) translates the work’s colour palette into a variety of textures that make it possible to understand the positioning of each of the colours (black, red, white and grey), which are identified in a Braille legend.” (All quotes, ArtDaily)

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts  Began Tours for the Blind in 2015.

These tactile prototypes enhance the guided tours the Museum has offered to blind and visually impaired visitors since 2015 beginning with a guided tour allows blind patrons to touch a select group of sculptures. albeit while wearing cotton gloves.

“The concept is based on similar initiatives in France’s the Louvre and Palace of Versailles. The first piece to get the hands-on treatment is the 1984 sculpture Granit Bleu de Vire, Normandy by German Ulrich Ruckriem. Also, available is a a copy of the famed “Thinker,” by Rodin  reproduced with resin.” Toronto Sun.

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Now, Close Your Eyes …

Now close your eyes and imagine you are touching this sculpture.


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