The cultural resources of the museums should be in reach of all citizens, including training and exchange of knowledge created from the art. In network of museums we hope that the museum pieces are accessible, and the different codes of interpretation don’t represent a barrier. “Museums for all among all of us”.
At the Department of Differently-abled and Accessibility of network of museums, attached to the management, we are working on a project about elimination of barriers, in which the staff with differently-abled has a leading role.
We are working to achieve accessible centres for everyone. We take appropriate measures to remove barriers for visitors as much as for workers.
At the same time we adapted the workplace of our workmate Ángeles Miguélez, a blind museum guide, we were forced to create strategies to bring the collections for all audiences.
From then on, we make the decision to harness her abilities to strengthen that the visitors can enjoy the museums through the other senses. For each museum piece, for each collection, were incorporated new resources and adaptations. This enables to obtain a mutual understanding, between the guide of museums and the visitor, establishing a close and intense relationship.
The predominant consumption of visual culture in the museums through the history is a reality that supposed a barrier to blind people and the museum institutions. This model of consumption is a very limited way to engage with the museum objects and to extract its meaning.
Our way of “looking” determines how we understand, interpret and give meaning to everything. We were “blind” to interpret and to give meaning to the different collections, and be able to transmit the suitable information to our blind workmate.
Our help was necessary so that our workmate could offer new options to the visitors, and these ones can enjoy the museum in a different way. Nelson Goodman said «changing the way of looking involves to change the meanings and build with them a new world».
The gaze is not only a physical process captured by the eyes, but an active process which organizes what it’s seen outside according to an internal schema.
This project was born from these premises, and it pursues a clear aim: to approach the collections of the four museums of the network through the photography, in a dialogued, mental and a team activity (the blind, the museum staff and the photographers).
We started investigating what had been done, and what we could do in this particular subject, and we found examples in other countries. In Argentina, there was a photography workshop for the blind, but the main references were the exhibitions in California and in Mexico with the movement “The Blind with Carrera School”. This movement understands the photography for the blind as a salutary lesson to think about the image, the light and the darkness.
Once we found the references, we adapted them to our own reality. We valued them with Ángeles Miguélez, Pilar Yáñez (both blind) and Juan Ignacio Márquez, and decided to give shape to the project. In the beginning, this idea seemed a fantasy, but now we can assess it as a success.
The next step was to present the initiative to the artist Iago Eireos, who developed a research and formed a team of photographers from Lugo to be docents at the workshop Blindly photography. The teaching team was formed by: Xosé Reigosa, Germán Limeres, Antonio López, Henrique and Iago de Sant.
Our aim was that the participants understood that the mind gives shape to the photography; the sight perceives the image, but the brain creates it. All of them received in their minds the information about the collections of our museums: San Paio de Narla Fortress Museum, Pazo de Tor Museum, Provincial Museum of the Sea and Lugo Provincial Museum.
The project was recorded in a documentary carried out by Enrique Lamas and the students of Image and Sound School.
Three years have already passed since the beginning of one of the most innovative and productive initiatives of the museums network, and year by year, we try to enrich it.
In this third edition, with previously learned skills, we were able to confront the challenge of new visual disciplines. We incorporated two new aspects: the work with the visual language, not only from the photography, but also from the video; and the reflection about the landscape, not only as the expression of a place to photograph or recording, also as a cultural and social place.
The participants of previous editions knew the devices and some techniques of the photographic language, also applicable to video. Even though, it was necessary to work with new techniques.
This year, the ICOM invited to all museums to think about Museums and Cultural Landscapes, subject in which the network of museums has been working since its creation, ten years ago. This reflection leads to the relationship of the museum with the landscape that surrounds it.
This relationship is essential in the network of museums, because this landscape, this context, gives to each museum its own identity. The tangible and intangible heritage of each museum is linked to the landscape in which it’s located, and this landscape defines its essence.
The Blindly photography project also gave rise to an one-hour documentary, an exhibition and a catalogue of the ENREDADOS collective (blind photographers, teachers and staff of the network of museums); all of them, interested in the sensory experimentation, new schemes of perception, and other related areas, not only visual ones, to interact with art in a more global way.
We take profit to the way blind people relate with the environment to enrich the museums, and give a new “look” to visitors. “Only with the heart, we can see in a right way. The essential is invisible to the eyes…” The Little Prince.
Encarna Lago González
Management of Lugo Provincial Network of Museums