With the aim of making art accessible to everyone, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
is making available two prototypes to visually impaired visitors that will enable them, by means of touch, to appreciate the colours in a painting by Alfred Pellan in the MMFAs collection. Developed by Patricia Bérubé, a masters student in art history at the Université de Montréal, this novel tool on display in the level S1 in the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion gives people with a visual disability a new way to connect with art.
This innovative initiative, which involves Alfred Pellans 1948 work Banner of the exposition Prisme dYeux opens up new avenues for enriching the museum experience of visitors dealing with barriers, including difficulties with perceiving colour and two-dimensional images such as those in painting. Available to the public, the tactile prototypes enhance the guided tours the Museum has offered to blind and visually impaired visitors since 2015.
The Museums teams work tirelessly every day to offer experiences adapted to visitors with specific needs. Created in collaboration with numerous representatives from organizations and participants, these experiences, are aimed at meeting their expectations. Thats why Patricia Bérubés research is highly relevant, since it provides a unique solution for people living with a visual impairment, said Thomas Bastien, the MMFA Director of Education and Wellness.
«Chaque jour, les équipes du Musée travaillent sans relâche pour offrir des expériences sur mesure destinées à des personnes ayant des besoins particuliers. Créées en collaboration avec une multitude de responsables dorganismes et des participants, ces expériences ont pour objectif de répondre aux attentes de chacun et de chacune ! Et cest pour cette raison que la recherche de Patricia Bérubé, qui apporte une solution unique à des personnes vivant avec une déficience visuelle, est dune grande pertinente».
My project arose out of a desire to make painting accessible to people with vision problems. With these relief prototypes, they can now explore the beauty of a painting with their fingertips. A whole world of shapes and colours now opens up to them, explained Patricia Bérubé, designer of the tactile prototypes.
Patricia Bérubés tactile prototypes
With a background in 3D animation and art history, Patricia Bérubé is especially interested in tactile perception in the blind and the visually impaired. As part of her masters project, which she began in September 2016, she has developed two prototypes for the tactile interpretation of a two-dimensional work. These separate prototypes render the shapes and colours of Pellans Banner of the exposition Prisme dYeux in relief. Chosen for its simple, clearly delineated shapes, the work was reproduced on a sheet of Plexiglas in half-size scale, by combining 3D printing techniques and silicone moulds.
A first prototype re-creates the contours of the works geometric shapes (rectangles, circles, diamonds, triangles) in relief so that the configuration can be understood by the fingertips. The second (see above image) translates the works colour palette into a variety of textures that make it possible to understand the positioning of each of the colours (black, red, white and grey), which are identified in a Braille legend.
In developing the prototypes, Ms. Bérubé assessed the selected textures and the functionality of the prototypes in a group of 13 people with various visual impairments. People must have the right to use this type of program. I think its essential. We forget at this moment that we no longer see. Were really in our world; we see it. And we forget that were blind; we see [the work] in our own way, said Jean-Daniel Aubin, a participant in the project.