Spanish museums, accessible to the blind

Spanish museums, accessible to the blind


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Workers at the Prado Museum, one of Spain's most important art museums, normally warn visitors not to touch the museum's treasured works, but recently José Pedro González, 56, has been putting his fingers on a copy of one of the most famous works of the master Velázquez, 'Vulcan's Forge‘.

"There are many things that can be discovered and it is fantastic to do so," said González, who has been blind for 14 years.

The painting is one of six copies of works by masters such as El Greco and Francisco de Goya that have been made for the first exhibition for the blind.

A technique of relief that adds volume and texture to allow the blind, or those with very limited vision, the opportunity to create a mental image of the painting by feeling it.

«It is a brilliant exhibition. The only way that blind people can have access to the paintings is through someone else's explanations, "explains González, who has visited" Touching the Prado "more than once since it opened in January.

In other countries some museums have used the same technique that in the Prado Museum to reproduce works of art for the blind but those works were smaller and in black and white, one of the Prado restorers, Fernando Pérez Suescun, has commented.

The Prado Museum copies have the same proportions as the originals but are slightly smaller to allow blind visitors to touch and feel the works.

The works of art selected by the museum are the representation of its vast collection and whose details can be appreciated thanks to the volume that has been added.

The Prado plans to show the paintings in other Spanish cities after the exhibition ends on October 18 in Madrid.

The exhibition is part of a growing effort by Spanish museums to make your collections accessible to the visually impaired with the help of the very important organization for the blind, ONCE.

The Reina Sofía Museum, dedicated to modern and contemporary art and the place where Guernica, Pablo Picasso's masterpiece, is exhibited, also allows blind visitors to touch some of his sculptures while in the Madrid Museum Costume it has installed an exhibition permanent original costumes that can be touched.

The ONCE organization, which runs lotteries to raise funds, employs 20,000 blind and partially sighted people, advises museums on how to improve their facilities and exhibits for the blind or visually impaired.

"All of this not only helps blind people, but also other people with any other type of disability," commented Ángel Luis Gómez Blázquez, one of the leaders of ONCE.

The ONCE museum in Madrid itself exhibits 34 models of world monuments like the Eiffel tower, the Taj Mahal or the Kremlin, which can be touched.

Elisabeth Axel, president and founder of Art Beyond Sight, a New York organization specializing in museum access for the blind, says that more and more museums around the world are making progress in making their collections accessible to the blind, for example the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, which organizes a large number of activities for the blind, including guided tours, painting classes and workshops where they can feel the sculptures.


Video: Introduction. Episode 1. DISABILITY EQUALITY AND MUSEUMS