The Elizabeth Morse Touch Gallery has a new home in the Modern Wing. Visitors to the Art Institute of Chicago once again have the opportunity to experience how the sense of touch can enrich their appreciation of art. The Touch Gallery is located near the Ryan Learning Center, just inside the Millennium Park entrance to the Modern Wing.
Specifically designed for visually impaired visitors to the museum but available to all, the Touch Gallery exhibits four sculptures from different time periods and places of origin accompanied by text panels and labels presented in both large type and Braille. Labels were written with the assistance of a consultant, who is blind, from the Catholic Guild for the Blind (www.guildfortheblind.org) who explored the works of art while staff recorded his observations. Labels provide historical information and focus on a detailed description of the work of art to guide the visitor in touching.
Made of bronze and marble and representing different periods, the sculptures in the gallery all represent the human face. Through touch visitors can discover the facial expression, accessories, and style of dress as well as discern an artwork’s form, scale, temperature, and texture in ways that sight cannot provide.
The sculptures in this gallery have been carefully treated with a protective wax so that visitors may touch them. Normally, visitors are not permitted to touch paintings and sculptures in museums to protect artworks from damage. Hands that appear clean might have small amounts of corrosive salts, oils, moisture, and microscopic dirt particles on them. If transferred to works of art, these compounds will build up over time and can ultimately ruin the objects. Therefore, please do not touch objects located elsewhere in the museum. With your cooperation, we can preserve the Art Institute’s treasures for future generations.
Visitors should remove rings, bracelets, wrist watches, and cuff links before enjoying the Touch Gallery.