It’s a world first: a major photographic institution has made available to the blind and visually impaired a selection of images from its collection. For World Sight Day on October 13th, the Musée de l’Elysée of Lausanne in Switzerland unveiled its innovative project. About twenty tactile photographs have already been produced. There will be thirty-one by spring 2017. They can be accessed at the museum or are available on line. A nude by Gertrude Fehr, an aquatic scene by Hans Steiner and an early colour photograph from the end of the 19th century appear in the selection.
The photos are printed on paper with microcapsules that react to heat. The images are converted into lines and circles,while the shadows, highlights and colors are given separately via sounds or in braille. The photos can be downloaded from the museum’s website, thanks to a format that allows relief printing. The tactile prints are then made on an appropriate printer.
The project for the blind and visually impaired is part of the cultural mediation of the canton, which has a social integration role. In this case, the Musée de l’Elysée is a partner in the programme Feel the Arts, directed by the American Denise Lasprogata and she conceived these programmes of accessibility to the arts by sound and touch.
Luc Debraine is culture and society journalist for the Swiss magazine L’Hebdo.
Photographs to touch
Musée de l’Elysée
18, avenue de l’Elysée