There is a museum in Spain where visitors are encouraged to touch the paintings. NPR featured a story of how Madrid’s famous Prado Museum is changing the way people “see” art with an exhibit where visitors are not only allowed to touch the paintings, but they are encouraged to do so. With “Touching the Prado” it’s as if the museum is asking individuals to “break the rules” as most institutions around the world specifically monitor exhibits to be certain that they not experienced through physical touch. 

For “Touching the Prado,” pieces of the museum’s most renowned works have been duplicated into a three-dimensional format, creating a new experience for those who have visual impairments, as well as for individuals with no visual impairments. To build this exhibit, the Prado consulted Spain’s national organization for the blind, requesting their expertise regarding which paintings could be best adapted to 3-D. Museum curators began taking a high-resolution photo of each masterpiece and used pigments to paint on top of the image. “Touching the Prado” is not the world’s first 3-D art exhibit for the blind, but it is one of the only ones that utilize both color and texture. The exhibit is small, including only six paintings from the Prado’s collection.  Some of these pieces have been reduced in scale to allow individuals to touch the art easily. All images are accompanied by Braille text.

In actuality, the majority of visitors to the exhibit are not vision-impaired. Like blindfolds, the museum provides opaque glasses for individuals who are fully sighted. One college student said regarding her visit, “I think it’s a really cool way to experience art even if you’re not vision-impaired. I like art, and I’ve always kind of wondered what art feels like.” The exhibit runs through June 28, 2015.

For more on this NPR story, click here.