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Seeing The Unseen: Classic Art Now Available For The Visually Impaired

April 4, 2013

Vatican Museum creates multi-sensory art exhibit for the visually impaired.

For those of us who are not lucky enough to have 20/20 vision, it may seem like a pain to have to live behind contact lenses or prescription eyeglasses in order to see the world clearly. However, while these necessary devices may seem like an inconvenience sometimes, many of us take for granted that they are giving us the assistance and clear vision to see the world as clearly as those with perfect vision.

In fact, many people who are visually impaired would trade many things for just one day of this assisted vision so that they could see firsthand the wonderful things throughout the world. After all, not everyone is as lucky as we are to view the changing scenery of the seasons, take in the visual wonders of the world or appreciate classic works of art.


However, one of these actions may no longer be unavailable to those who are visually impaired. The Vatican Museum, home to one of the most famous art collections in the world, has recently created a multi-sensory art experience that allows the visually impaired to “see” some of the biggest masterpieces in art. The concept, created by His Eminence Giovanni Cardinal Lajolo, the then president of the Vatican City State, was based on a request from his sister’s blind patient who dreamed of appreciating the Vatican art collection one day first hand.

“This project was a large undertaking, recruiting design, restoration and vision experts from around the globe,” explained the cardinal. “Vision is a blessing and art is a gift too all, not a luxury. It is exceptional that we are able to offer access to the miracles of art to people who see differently,” he furthered.

The Vatican Museum multi-sensory tour permits the visually impaired to explore a selection of original sculptures on display in the Gregorian Profane Museum and in the Vatican Pinacoteca, the Painting Gallery.

This one of a kind “tour for the blind” is free for the visually impaired and allows visitors to take in the many different masterpieces through touch, multisensory systems and musical stimuli.  According to a description of the exhibit by TearFilm.org, thermoformed panels and scale reproduction bas-reliefs equipped with Braille legends and dark print descriptions help visitors appreciate the masterpieces.

The entire tour was also enhanced and built upon by Deborah Tramentozzi, an amazing women who, despite being blind since birth, developed a large passion for art and painting. While Ms. Tramentozzi had never seen the light of day, she was able to feel the curves and lines of sculptures and transfer them to her own canvas. She played along sounds of choir singers alongside portraits of angels to help “see” the art that was in front of her. The entire experience was a one-of-a-kind event that all people could appreciate.

“With the diligence and creativity of our experts and donors, we are working to enhance this tour and its offerings to more visitors,” said Father Mark Haydu, Director of the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums.

What do you think about this multi-sensory experience for the visually impaired? Do you think this exhibit created by the Vatican Museum will help those with visual impairments get a feel for some of the great pieces of artwork of the world? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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