But the experience is not just limited to touch; an audio guide, braille booklet accompany all the objects.
With braille booklets, audio guides and special tactile floor tiles, the National Museum has opened up the world of art to the visually impaired.
Art knows no boundaries. But it takes a special effort to open up the world of art to those who are visually impaired. The exhibition ‘India and the World: A History in Nine Stories’, currently on at the National Museum, is an attempt to make exhibitions a more welcoming and barrier-free experience. Eighteen of the items showcased have been made tactile. Among these is an original imprint of the Indian Constitution, a Mughal painting depicting emperor Jahangir holding a portrait of Virgin Mary, a metal humped bull of Harappan times, Roman and Chinese coins, a 3D model of the charkha, and a painting of the planet Rahu.
Talking about the initiative, Siddhant Shah, an access consultant with Access for All and DAG, said, “These objects were selected keeping in mind their historical significance and the impact they would make on a person with visual impairment so that they can engage with it easily. We have written the entire Indian Constitution in braille as it will help the visually impaired people read and understand its ethos. My team worked on it for three months to get the braille imprint. Likewise, the tactile model of the charkha gives them a tangible experience of Mahatma Gandhi’s ethos. We also wanted to highlight its importance on the tricolour and of self-reliance through the stories associated with it,” he explained.
But the experience is not just limited to touch; an audio guide, braille booklet accompany all the objects. There are also special tiles on the floor for the smooth movement of visually impaired visitors. The idea is to let them be independent with the use of the audio guide and tactile paths so that they can decide what they want to touch, feel and know, just like us.” he said, adding, “Any visitor can touch these objects, not necessarily those with sight problems.”
The inspiration for creating a wholesome experience stemmed from personal life. “My mother has partial sight and it was from her that I got the idea for this exhibition — a place where everyone is able to visit and have a good time. No one has the right to stop you if you are visually impaired. Thus, we teamed up with Delhi Art Gallery and National Museum and organised this exhibition for visually impaired people,” he adds.
Multiple technologies were used to create tactile renditions and the objects were given a relief or depth for developing a 3D rendition, followed by Braille labeling, to make them comprehensible for the visually impaired visitors. “We created objects in an economical manner, as 3D printing and laser routing are very expensive,” he added.