Doors. Please Touch
Initiated by Red Oak, in partnership with the Lebanese Ministry of Culture, the Omero Tactile National Museum of Italy, and the Italian Cultural Institute, “DOORS. PLEASE TOUCH” aims at “leaving no one behind” by providing accessibility to museums in Lebanon for the blind and visually impaired through a tactile guidance system, a training to guides and archeologists, educational inclusive tactile art activities, in addition to integrating a target group of blinds in the project execution.
The project’s objective is to promote the social and educational value of cultural heritage through an innovative approach to the heritage itself, based on multi-sensory experiences and in particular on touch, and focused primarily on the cultural and social inclusion of people with visual disabilities, in addition to multi-sensory museum paths usable by blind people. It is also an opportunity for Lebanon to be innovative at the level of art and become one of the few countries in the world to allow the experience of the tactile vision of art to everyone.
Inauguration at the National Museum of Beirut
"DOORS. PLEASE TOUCH" was inaugurated at the National Museum of Beirut on 29 October 2018. The inauguration took place in the presence of the Minister of Culture Dr. Ghattas Khoury, the Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Massimo Marotti, the President of the Omero Museum Aldo Grassini, and the Director of the National Museum Anne- Marie Afeiche. The project collaborates with the National Museum and MACAM (Modern and Contemporary Art Museum). The opening was launched with the choir of the Lebanese School for the Blind and Deaf (LSBD).
The inauguration included a guided tour to blind and visually impaired persons under the supervision of Andrea Socrati, representative of the Omero Museum.
More than 40 archeological objects, sculptures, and mosaics were selected by the 3 museums and in coordination with Red Oak and the Omero Museum to become accessible through touch. Informative material in Braille has being placed next the selected artworks.
The “Red Oak Award for Education & Culture”
At the end of the inauguration, Mikhail Haddad, the "Godfather of the Blinds" in Lebanon, received the first "Red Oak Award for Education and Culture" and was honored for his distinguished contributions in the field of culture and education. Here is a video documentary produced by Red Oak about his achievements.
Overview about the implementation process since 2018
The project has been implemented in different phases:
1) Red Oak and the Omero Museum supporting the 3 identified museums to become accessible by proposing material, aid tools and new technologies;
2) selection of archeological objects, sculptures, paintings and mosaic to be accessible by touch
3) informative material in Braille next to the selected art objects;
4) training of museum operators;
5) developing tools and technologies to facilitate accessibility in the museums;
6) organizing tactile guided visits to the blind and visually-impaired.
A Training Workshop on Accessibility to Museums at the Sursock Museum
A training on accessibility to museums took place at the Sursock Museum under the supervision of experts from the Omero Museum. The training was attended by more than 40 cultural operators, archeologists and guides.
Inclusive Educational Tactile Activity at MACAM (Modern and Contemporary Art Museum)
A group of young blind and visually-impaired students visited MACAM in the framework of the inauguration of the project. They enjoyed an interactive group discussion about art, a tactile guided tour followed by a tactile educational activity where the children reproduced from memory a specific piece with clay.
Tactile guided tours at the National Museum of Beirut since January 2019
Starting January 2019, the National Museum of Beirut opened its doors for the first for the blind & visually impaired. Red Oak has been organizing tactile guided tour for special needs’ schools and other institutions with the collaboration with the Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA).