Blind Visitors Experience Art in a New Way at The Prado

May 26, 2015 at 4:49 pm |
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Touching the Prada Exhibit Goya

A blind person feels with her hands a copy of ‘The gentleman with his hand on his chest’ of El Greco at The Prado Museum on February 10, 2015 in Madrid, Spain. ‘Hoy toca el Prado’ (Touch The Prado) allows blind or vision-impaired visitors to explore with their hands the copies of six masterworks.(Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Not only will they not chide you for getting too close to the art at the Prado’s latest exhibit, touching it is all a part of the experience. So go ahead, put your fingerprints all over Mona Lisa’s face.

The world renowned museum located in Madrid is opening up entire new worlds of beauty to some of their visitors. Their latest exhibit features classical masterpieces presented three-dimensionally, so they can be experienced tactually by the blind and visually impaired.

Works from famous artists like Francisco Goya, Diego Velazquez, and El Greco have all been recreated using the ‘Didu’ technique, which uses high-resolution photographs layered with special pigments that give the painting texture to help someone with visual impairments to distinguish changes in color. “It’s a special type of paint designed to react to ultraviolet light and rise like yeast when you’re baking,” said the exhibit’s curator Fernando Pérez Suescun to NPR. “It creates volume and texture.” Each reproduction cost the museum almost $7,000 to produce.

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 10: A blind person feels with his hands a copy of 'The Parasol' of Goya at The Prado Museum on February 10, 2015 in Madrid, Spain. 'Hoy toca el Prado' (Touch The Prado) allows blind or vision-impaired visitors to explore with their hands the copies of six masterworks. The copies were created using a technique called 'Didu' which provides texture and volume to the paintings. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Although the “Touching the Prado” exhibit is catered towards the visually impaired, with brail descriptions of each of the 3D-recreations, many of the museum’s visitors still have their full eyesight, so the museum also hands out pairs of opaque glasses that help to give some visitors a similar tactile experience to those of the visually impaired. While this isn’t the first exhibit to create 3D-art for the blind to experience, it’s one of the only ones that incorporates both color and texture in the reproductions.

Many of the museum’s visitors have expressed the positive impressions the exhibit left on them, some discovering empathy for those suffering from visual impairments, and others just enjoying a new way to experience art.

“It’s an unbelievable sensation,” said José Pedro González, who’s been blind since the age of 14, to the New York Times. “I’m feeling this painting down to the detail of each fingernail. It’s great to look at paintings with my wife and spend time with her, but it’s clearly a big difference when I can discover a painting for myself or have to listen to what she tells me.”

“Touching the Prado” runs through October 18th.

Please DO touch the art. The Prado’s new exhibit is opening up a world new world of beauty to the blind and visually impaired.