Three of Lebanon’s museums will be equipped for the blind or visually impaired by January 2019.
“Doors: Please Touch,” an initiative launched by Lebanese NGO Red Oak in collaboration with Italy’s Omero Tactile Museum of Ancona, will introduce touch-based access to Lebanese museums.
Museums worldwide traditionally prohibit the touching of art and artifacts, a tool which is vital for blind people to “see” and experience an object properly.
“Being open and available to all audiences is an obligation,” Beirut National Museum’s director Anne-Marie Afeiche said at a news conference. “The tangible and intangible heritage of humanity is conveyed to museums and should therefore be accessible to all.”
“Doors: Please Touch” will be implemented first at the Beirut National Museum, the Sursock Museum and the Modern and Contemporary Art Museum. The program will then expand to museums in Baalbeck, Byblos, Tripoli, Beiteddine, Tyre, Saida and Deir el Qamar.
“The project aims to raise awareness among educators and family members on the importance of art education for people with visual disabilities,” Omero’s director of special projects Andrea Socrati said.
Each museum will select a collection to make available through the program, either by making copies of artifacts or choosing those that can withstand handling. In October 2018, a training program for museum staff will begin, where they will be taught skills for touch tours.
Braille and audio-descriptions will be added, as well as multi-sensory museum paths that are accessible to blind people.
Tactile exploration, braille descriptions and guided tours will be available every Monday at the Beirut National Museum, starting January 2019. Other museums will announce their tour times at a later date.
Text: Maghie Ghali