An unforgettable sensory experience in the dark. Back in 2011, I had the opportunity to visit and be a spokesperson and temporary guide of the Tactile Museum of Catania, transferred for the Christmas period at the Ciminiere di Catania.
A museum set up in Catania in 2008, conceived in collaboration with the Braile Regional Printing House of Uic, after the ones in Varese, Madrid and Ancona, designed for those who cannot measure themselves with light (visually impaired and blind).
Tactile observation represents the only perceptive way of approaching art and culture within the museum. It is a multifunctional center aimed at integrating the blind and at the same time allowing the able-bodied to understand their condition and look at the world with their eyes: their hands.
In fact, the museum contains a library curated by the Braile Regional Printing House with a vast amount of books and audiobooks written in Braile, the “Fragments of light” showroom where it is possible to buy educational games for blind children, typhlodidactic material, geographical maps, and technological aids. useful for autonomy and cultural growth. Among these “Brailina”, the soft Barbie-aliteracy, which allows blind girls to type and learn letters in Braile.
Building of excellence, in which the blind guides the sighted, is also the bar in the dark. Inside, totally in the dark, served by a blind person and guided by him along the path, you can discover a new sensation: recognizing objects hanging on the wall in the dark just by touching. Browsing through the museum we find the symbolic monuments of our city reproduced in three-dimensional models: the cathedral, the church of San Giuliano, “U liotru”, Castello Ursino, and the Massimo Bellini theater. An ever-expanding area that even contains a reproduction of the Agrigento temple, all designed and created by the Stamperia with attention to detail and choice of materials. Among the works of art, accompanied by plaques in Braile and to be discovered by touch, the Venus de Milo, the head of David, and the bust of Bellini.
Finally, it is possible to explore the outdoor “garden of the senses” by creating a totally blindfolded path and perceiving the scents of some plants of our land: jasmine, carob, and almond. The tactile-plantar tiles trace a path that never allows perfect balance. People leave the path only by choice or will.
A reflection only after the visit to the museum. Full integration, the discovery of art and the outside world, a desire for life are the sensations that you “touch” by exploring this museum.
Text: Giovanna Muzzetta
Photos: from the web