The Museo Tattile Statale Omero of Ancona: A virtuous example of accessibility in museums

“I don’t really like the definition of ‘museum for blind people’. Because since its birth, it was conceived as a museum for everyone. A museum without barriers, therefore, means that anyone who enters it has the opportunity to use it, according to their needs and conditions”

Aldo Grassini (Network Museum Interview, 2017)

Accessibility is an important topic of our generation, whether you are talking about services, media and — why not — culture. The recent events, more than ever, have jolted museums and cultural institutions into new possibilities, one of these things being meeting every individual’s needs and necessities. Accessibility is integral to our mission at Ki Culture, under the umbrella of Social Sustainability, which includes human rights, equality, equity, and social justice, to name a few. Download our free Social Sustainability Ki Book here.

Museums’ role

Current conversations about the cultural sector acknowledge the role of the museum as an institution “at the service of society and its development” (International Council of Museums, 2007), in charge of representing society in all aspects and acting as the engine of social change. This is why it is important for museums to assess their current practices, their values towards inclusion and — consequently — the interpretation, display, and accessibility of their collections.

Display room, 3 people exploring 3 different statues through touch. (Source: https://www.museoomero.it/en/museum/accessibility/).

The Omero Tactile State Museum

The Omero Tactile State Museum of Ancona, Italy is one of the few tactile museums in the world. Initially created to promote the integration of people with visual impairments, the museum aims to be a truly accessible institution. The idea of a tactile museum was born in 1985, thanks to Aldo Grassini and Daniela Bottegon, passionate travelers — both blind — who were tired of the recurring prohibition “Do not touch!” usually present in most museums.

The museum’s founders, Aldo Grassini and Daniela Bottegoni, experiencing one of the artworks (Source: https://www.museoomero.it/en/museum/).

Commitment to accessibility throughout the Museum

The Museum’s collection is composed of architectural models, casts, and actual-size or scale copies of sculptures and archaeological finds from prehistory to Roman times. The museum also hosts a contemporary art gallery, with original sculptures provided by contemporary artists. It goes without saying that the entire collection is accessible and usable through the sense of touch.

Caption plate for Michelangelo’s David, large text and Braille (Source: https://www.museoomero.it/en/services/).
A group lecture organized by the Education Department of the museum (Source: https://www.museoomero.it/en/learning/).

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