31 January 2019

New Exhibition Communicates the History of Reading and Writing Blindly


How do you read and write when you cannot see? Medical Museion explores this question in the new mini exhibition Blindly, where the audience is required to listen and feel. The exhibited objects have been used by blind people to communicate. The exhibition opens on February 7 at 4pm.

The new mini exhibition Blindly cannot be seen, but must be felt and listened to. It contains past and present means of communication used by blind and partially sighted people. The exhibition allows the audience to explore techniques and methods that make it possible to read and write without eye sight – from the first writing machines introduced in the 19th century to the app Be My Eyes, which via a smartphone makes the eyes of the sighted available to the blind.

’We hope it will give the audience a different museum experience and new insight into how we sense the world. It is the first time we have grappled with audio communication of an exhibit, and it has been a nice challenge. As museum people, we probably think of exhibitions as a visual medium, but here we had to think along completely new lines,' says Senior Curator at Medical Museion Bente Vinge Pedersen.

The idea was never for the exhibited objects to be visible, and therefore the exhibition was not designed for the eye. The objects are mainly uncoloured, and the exhibition features very little text. To get the most out of the exhibition visitors must therefore listen to the audio descriptions – a method of translation from vision to hearing that some may know from TV. Visitors are also allowed to touch the exhibited objects, and they can try reading with a magnifying glass or writing using a braille typewriter.

‘We have cooperated with two interpreters, who welcomed the challenge of making our three-dimensional exhibition accessible via audio descriptions. This is not the last time we will do this. We have a lot of ideas for new projects that can make the museum accessible to people with no or impaired vision,’ says Bente Vinge Pedersen.

Background to the Exhibition:
Blindly exhibits objects from the collection of the history of the blind that was transferred to Medical Museion from the Institute from the Blind and Partially Sighted (IBOS) in 2009. Medical Museion has spent the last three years digitising and recording the collection which is the most complete of its kind in Europe. The collection of the history of the blind can be accessed via blind.museion.ku.dk as of 7 February 2019 at 4pm. The site is accessible to the blind and partially sighted, who e.g. can print 3D models of the recorded objects.

Practical information:
Visit the exhibition Blindly at Medical Museion, 62 Bredgade. 
Tuesday-Friday at 10am-4pm, Saturday-Sunday at 12pm-4pm.

The museum is located in historical buildings with lots of stairs and unfortunately does not have a hoist or lift, but the staff is ready to offer a helping hand and guide dogs are welcome.

For further information and interviews:
Senior Curator Bente Vinge Pedersen, phone: +45 28 75 38 21.
Curator Anne Bernth Jensen, phone: +45 93 56 51 61.

About Medical Museion:
Through exhibitions and events Medical Museion communicates medical history. The museum is for anyone who is curious about how we have understood and treated the body, illnesses and health in the past and present – from Antiquity to genetics. Medical Museion is a research unit under the Department of Public HealthFaculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen and researches medical research communication.