National Museum opens door to visually-impaired

Last Updated: Feb 28, 2011, 13:52 PM IST

New Delhi: The National Museum here has put in place a system to enable visually-impaired people to walk through and appreciate art -- becoming the first museum in India to become accessible to the visually challenged.

The National Museum has installed monograms, signs and Braille inscriptions to make the objects blind-friendly.

Besides, the main passages, ramps and galleries have been reworked to be made barrier-free. Likewise, the necessary modifications have also been made to accommodate mentally retarded people.

The blind-friendly facilities will become operational next month.

"It is part of our efforts to reach out to more and more sections of the society," C.V. Ananda Bose, administrator of National Museum and vice chancellor of the National Museum Institute, said in a statement late Sunday evening.

"The disabled people, though with keen interest in art, are being left out from such pleasures of knowledge and the art appreciation of these vulnerable categories has been minimal in the country," he said.

"We have now devised this highly-focused system for the blind and the mentally retarded people to begin with and later it will be extended to other marginalised sections like spastics and street children," he added.

The museum has completed pilot programmes to accommodate blind visitors.

"Though the visually-impaired visited the museum earlier, they had to take the help of the guides and could only listen to the narrations. Now they can feel and learn by touching the objects," Bose said.

As part of the art education programme for marginalised children, the museum is organising a `tactile exhibition` for the visually impaired next month.

Bose said: "The exhibition will explore the nature of the perceptual power of the Indian images and gives audience an aesthetic, educational and spiritual experience through touching and feeling."

"It will give an overview of `Indian sculptural art through ages`, kaleidoscopic in its rich variety of form and colours, by the display of replicas of masterpieces," he added.

An outline of ancient sculptural art of India to the special audience will be presented through display of replicas supported by bilingual braille text, facility of self-guided floor path and audio guide.

"Museum objects have no textual language, yet communicate more powerfully with people of varied categories by their own distinct forms, colours, textures, dimensions and so on," Bose said.

"Art is therapeutic tool and art objects are of multidimensional and multidisciplinary educational value," he added.

National Museum has in its possession over 2,06,000 works of exquisite art, both of Indian and foreign origin covering more than 5,000 years of our cultural heritage.

IANS