Madrid, Spain. Fundacion ONCE is the host of the Typhlological Museum, a museum (and cultural center) for the blind. Everything is meant to be both seen and touched, to educate sighted people while providing an enhanced museum experience for the sight impaired.
A guard meets each guest and signs them in before they go upstairs to the museum. When I arrived, the reception area wasn't manned, but someone came out of a nearby office when they heard the elevator.
Doorways are flanked with prominent red columns. High contrast floor treatments mark room perimeters.
A beautiful collection of world landmark tactile models is dramatic, under low ambient light and colored spotlights. Tile and carpet floor treatments define walkways. Shaped windows are cut between the rooms. A tour of sighted visitors wasn't touching the models very much, but taking a lot of photos.
Each model provides large text and braille, with a built in shelf underneath for booklets. Speakers are embedded in slanted rails. Most have a smaller floorplan, site model or miniature version of the entire building to give context, and sometimes cutaways or separate details. Textures, colors and materials are varied and appealing to touch.
A reproduced painting with raised, textured treatment
Downstairs in a climate controlled archive room, is a collection of old braille books, some open to touch. Lovely.
Surrounding the stairs is an interesting history of braille and other writing (and calculating) systems for the sight impaired.
The museum also exhibits tactile art by sight impaired artists.
I expected the museum design to be less visual. Distracted by my own sight, I tried to imagine the experience of sight impaired visitors. It's remarkable that it works both ways here, as if "touch" and "see" could meet in the middle to form a better understanding.