Behind the Scenes at the DAM

Experience Passport Through Touch, Spanish & Other Special Materials

One of the main pillars of the museum’s commitment to providing access to the museum experience for all visitors is having special exhibition content available in multiple alternate formats. In Passport to Paris, all three shows in the suite have large print booklets with color thumbnail images and braille booklets available. These alternate format materials contain all object labels, extended labels, and exhibition content. There are also English and Spanish-language large-print transcripts of the Court to Café audio tour content. All of these materials are embedded into the Passport to Paris visitor experience and are complimentary for use while in the exhibition; look for them in boxes hanging on the wall near the beginning of each exhibition.

In addition to providing multi-format accommodations to increase access to Passport to Paris, we will also be featuring two rounds of Tactile Tables highlighting the themes and motifs of Court to Café. The Tactile Tables provide a multisensory experience of the art and culture featured in Court to Café, not only for our blind and low-vision visitors, but for all visitors and families who benefit from a hands-on experience with art. These tables are facilitated by specially trained docents. A sampling of the objects featured at the Passport to Paris Tactile Tables includes tactile interpretations of paintings in the show, including a tactile board showcasing the paint technique used in Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's Jane Avril Leaving the Moulin Rouge (above), a reproduction lacy fichu neck accessory worn by women in paintings in the show, and custom perfume inspired by the immersive experience of the exhibitions. In addition, the DAM is excited to be partnering with a local art lover who recently graduated from the Colorado Center for the Blind, Melissa Fishburn, who will assist in facilitating the Tactile Tables and share her love for tactile art. The picture below, taken at the Cover Story Tactile Tables in September, features Melissa wearing a replica of a nineteenth-century Japanese kappa; the kappa was custom made for the Cover Story Tactile Tables. We recently had the opportunity to interview her about her experience getting hands-on with art:

DAM: How did you hear about the Tactile Tables at the DAM?  

Melissa: I was a student at the Colorado Center for the Blind, and Ann Cunningham invited me to a show featuring Tactile Tables.

DAM: What was your experience like at your first visit to the Tactile Tables at the DAM? 

Melissa: I was amazed at the beauty art truly has to offer, and excited to know that the blind can also have a chance to experience the depth and get a hands-on look at the work and history that goes into these bodies of work.

DAM: What was your favorite part of your visit to the Tactile Tables?

Melissa: I felt that I was able to relate to the art by touching and exploring each piece, instead of just using my limited sight to view art. I appreciate that Tactile Tables make it possible for the blind to develop a connection to art just as a sighted person is able to do.

DAM: How do you experience art? How does art affect you?

Melissa: I was so very taken by the small details and thought that is poured into all the works of art. I was so overwhelmed by the beauty, warmth, and emotions that really help connect me to what meaning the artists are portraying in their work.  I knew instantly that I wanted to start taking in more art shows.

Meet Melissa and get hands-on with art at our Passport to Paris Tactile Tables, happening on Friday, December 6 and Sunday, December 8, 10 am-1 pm. The Tactile Tables are free with general admission. Passport to Paris ticket not required. Passport to Paris exhibition entry not included. Reservations are appreciated. Contact Sally McCance at smccance@denverartmuseum.org  or 720-913-0074.

Photo of Melissa Fishburn courtesy of Denver Art Museum

 

Image credit: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Jane Avril Leaving the Moulin Rouge, 1892. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art; Bequest of George Gay.

Sally McCance is the coordinator of access programs in the education department at the Denver Art Museum. Sally has been at the DAM since 2013 and her favorite artwork that has been on view here is Spiritual Messenger by Francis Nnaggenda.