KANSAS CITY, MO.- A new program at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art offers monthly tours through 2011 for people who are blind or visually impaired. Inspired by the 100th anniversary celebration of Alphapointe Association for the Blind, as many as nine visually impaired people at a time, along with a guest, will be able to experience the joy of art.
Weve been doing tactile tours at the Nelson-Atkins since 2005, said Susan Spencer, Specialist, School Tours. But they are usually limited to three people and mostly involve students. Now adults who are visually impaired, and their families, can come for a tactile tour.
Two types of tactile tours are available as of Jan 15. One focuses on contemporary interpretations, the other on the human figure. Participants will begin in a classroom in the Museums Ford Learning Center as docents introduce them to handling objects with care. They will touch different substances, such as bronze or ceramic, after putting on cotton gloves that protect the items from the natural oil on their hands. After that introduction, they will be guided into the Museum to feel sculptures as a docent provides them with a short, verbal history of the work.
Those who can see dont appreciate how much we use our eyesight in everyday life, said Reinhard Mabry, President and CEO of Alphapointe. The joy of experiencing art should not be limited to those who can see. Art enhances the human experience and should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their disabilities.
Alphapointe sought a partnership with the Nelson-Atkins in hopes of boosting the visibility of the services it has offered the visually impaired community for 100 years.
Art is therapy for us, said Mabry. Its a way for us to coax people out of their shells. Anyone who is blind or suffers vision loss is welcome on these tactile tours.
Reservations are required and can be made by calling 816-751-1ART. All tours are at 10:30 a.m. on one Saturday a month, starting Jan. 15. Participants are asked to check in at the Info Desk in the Bloch Building when they arrive.
Im hopeful that these tours will make the visually impaired feel welcome here, because art is for everyones enjoyment, said Spencer. Our specially trained docents will help them visualize the pieces they touch.
The dates for the tactile tours are Jan. 15, Feb. 19, March 26, April 23, May 21, June 25, July 16, Aug. 20, Sept. 17, Oct. 15, Nov. 19 and Dec. 17.