Philadelphia museum allows blind visitors to touch ancient artifacts

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology offers "touch tours" for visitors who are blind and visually-impaired. Now, those unable to experience history through sight can now experience it through touch.

"Museums should serve the community at large, and that includes the unsighted as well as the sighted," said program co-ordinator Trish Maunder. "Just because a person has low vision or can't see, doesn't mean that they're not completely interested in culture or learning about ancient artifacts."

Art Beyond Sight is a group that works to make "visual culture accessible to the blind and visually-impaired. They state that many major museums offer various hands-on experiences, whether its touching ancient artifacts or replicas. Those institutions which do not provide "hands-on" tours, will often offer personal or audio-guided tours. However, tactile tours appeal to not only the blind, but also autistic children and those with other disabilities.

The tours were initially offered last year, but they've since expanded them to make more collections accessible. Before feeling objects visitors sanitize their hands and are instructed to only lightly touch the priceless, ancient artifacts. The tours are offered twice each Monday during the fall, when the museum is closed. The tours are free and student groups receive a lesson on Egyptian mummification, which includes holding a jello mold meant to represent a brain. [Philadelphia CBS Local]


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