Hey, Cola, David here. I recently joined the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) on a Touch Tour, where visitors who are blind or have low vision have the opportunity to experience art in the museum through touch and other senses.
For this tour, the CMA arranged four different spaces with different types of art for small groups of attendees to experience. From a 3D printed replica of an ancient Chinese Camel to 19th-century furniture, each hands-on experience is accompanied by detailed descriptions of each item from museum staff.
Here’s more on the series + how you can Try This:
What we tried:
The CMA offers Touch Tours on Monday afternoons (when the museum is closed), so attendees can enjoy the experience without the typical hustle and bustle. Available to all ages, if there are no Touch Tours on the calendar, one can be scheduled upon request.
With the museum all to ourselves on a Monday afternoon, we took our time as a group as we went from gallery to gallery. Before touching any piece of art, we either sanitized our hands or put on gloves for extra protection. After touching the 3D printed sculpture, we felt the designs of furniture from both the 19th century and from the midcentury collections. Hearing others describe the pieces they touched — that I could see — enlightened me about the smallest details of the art.
What not to miss:
As art on view in the museum rotates, so does the art that is shared on the touch tour. The CMA also learns from each experience, so they can adapt the tours and improve them with each suggestion.
What we’re still talking about:
Our last stop on this tour was with a brass sculpture that truly surprised us all, even the museum employees. As people spoke in the room, you could gently feel the sound waves reverberating back through your hands. Then, when you talked to the art, you could feel it in your hands echoing back at you. It made me think, is this what the artist imagined? And we were the first people to experience this aspect, hidden without the sense of touch?
How you can experience this:
The CMA offers Touch Tours for visitors who are blind or have low vision on Monday afternoons when the museum is closed to the public, so that Touch Tour attendees can enjoy the experience without the typical hustle and bustle. Available to all ages, if there are no Touch Tours on the calendar, one can be scheduled upon request.
Things to know if you go:
- Experience: Touch Tours at the Columbia Museum of Art
- Price: Public touch tours are free with registration; price varies by age group for private group tours
- Website: columbiamuseum.org/visit/tours
- Address: 1515 Main St., Columbia, SC 29201
- Hours: See upcoming tours or schedule online
- Social: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube*