Madrid's Museo Del Prado Encourages Visitors To Touch And Feel Masterpieces

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Visitors at Spain's Hoy toca el Prado exhibit are encouraged to touch the paintings (Credit: Prado Museum)

One of the first signs visitors encounter at most museums is, "Please do not touch the exhibits." However at the new "Hoy toca el Prado" (Come touch the Prado) exhibition at Madrid's Museo Nacional Del Prado, the officials don't just encourage the habit, they insist upon it. That's because this unique art display has been specially created to enable visually impaired patrons to experience the joy of the works of some of the world's most famous artists, just like non-disabled people can.

Hoy toca el Prado, which is open to visitors until June 28th, features replicas of six collection masterpieces. Among them is Diego Velazquez's "Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest," Francisco Goya's "The Parasol" and even a reproduction of the world's best-known work of art, "The Mona Lisa!"

The three-dimensional masterpieces are the brainchild of Estudios Durero, a graphics art organization in Bilbao, Spain. The creators began by taking high-resolution images of the original works. They then used a special ink to add different 3-D textures to the paintings. This allows blind visitors to feel features like hair, skin, cloaks, etc. so that they can create a visual image of what the art looks like in their minds.

The temporary exhibit features replicas of six masterpieces from the museum's collection (Credit: Prado Museum)

Since the blind can perceive some hues, equal emphasis was given to the colors in the paintings. Braille text etched on the wall next to each exhibit allows visitors to get more information about the picture, while an audio guide completes the incredible journey! Blind patrons are not the only ones that can enjoy the exhibits. Special opaque masks are available for sighted visitors who wish to experience the sensation of 'seeing' a painting through touch.

Not surprisingly, the exhibition has been an enormous success. As one visually impaired visitor succinctly puts it, "For us, the sense of sight is the sense of touch. My view is to touch, and usually I can’t see the paintings others see in a museum – someone would have to explain them to me. But in this exhibit, I have the chance to see it with my hands.”

The raised art is designed to allow blind visitors to create a visual in their mind (Credit: Prado Museum)

Though there are a few other museums that have special exhibits for the blind, the Museo Nacional Del Prado is the world's first major museum to create one with versions of their most famous masterpieces. As to why it has taken so long for the 200-year-old institution to come up with this brilliant concept? Fernando Pérez, the museum's curator, says it is not due to lack of interest, but a lack of resources. Perez explains, “There are now new technologies to provide solutions that were previously not possible, such as the paints in relief, three-dimensional impressions, and apps." Now that they have it all figured out, the officials plan to continue offering similar exhibitions in the future.

This is not the first time the museum has gone the extra mile to make the experience special for everyone. Their past endeavors include a special exhibit for the deaf and also ones for visitors who have Alzheimer's and autism.

Resources: euronews.com, museo nacional del prado,acidcow.com

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79 Comments
  • lolSunday, June 28, 2015 at 2:13 am
    so kind of them
    • Bob jonesThursday, June 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm
      The art would be such an experience for
      • AilenWednesday, June 10, 2015 at 2:39 pm
        So kind of them to make those things for the blind That is also awesome to see
        • dauntless4
          dauntless4Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 2:20 pm
          that was so kind of the artist especially for blind people
          • drawingal4
            drawingal4Monday, June 8, 2015 at 7:33 am
            really good for blind people to ''see'' the real art.
            • BellSunday, June 7, 2015 at 6:04 pm
              Cool
              • tree300
                tree300Sunday, June 7, 2015 at 12:05 pm
                that is very cool, why didnt we do this before? these paintings give an insight on how blind people see the world and how sighted people look
                • IvydragonSaturday, June 6, 2015 at 4:29 pm
                  Such a wonderful idea! It's truly astonishing that man-kind didn't think of this before. This is a great improvement to the society of the blind, and I just know this will become a real hit to the rest of the world!
                  • jewls10
                    jewls10Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 9:26 am
                    she is cool
                    • candylove
                      candyloveWednesday, June 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm
                      TOTALLY AWESOMELY COOL!