Preparation of the Tactile Model of the building of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

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ANDARTE, Ana María Marín Gálvez and Teresa González

Teresa González

Before giving voice to Ana Maria Marín and ANDARTE, I would like to put this action in context by making a statement of intent, defining what an inclusive society is for me.

For me, an inclusive society is one that understands that culture is a fundamental right of people and that it acts to achieve this goal. In this sense, when we talk about the right to culture, we mean the right to participate in the cultural life of all people on equal terms, regardless of their personal situation, whether this is temporary or not. Therefore, I understand an inclusive society as one that acts to break down barriers, which can be of many types (physical, sensory, intellectual, economic, emotional, cultural, geographical, of vital context, etc.), which hinder access to culture.

Our commitment to accessibility and inclusion has come a long way and has been consolidated thanks to the work we are carrying out with people and groups with functional diversity, mental disorders, cognitive diversity, etc., which has made it possible to lay the foundations and develop methodologies that will ensure that the museum becomes an increasingly less exclusive environment.

Now, thanks to the European support of the Art for Inclusion programme INTERREG-POCTEFA / ARTIS 2014-2020, the museum goes a step further in guaranteeing the right to cultural participation of people with sensory disabilities.

Presentation of the tactile model at the Focus Group of people with sensory disabilities of the company Tactile. Photo: Marta Mérida

In May 2021, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) commissioned the production of the tactile model for its building: the Palau Nacional, an action that is part of the projects co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), within the framework of the INTERREG-POCTEFA Programme 2014-2020 (ARTIS 358/19 art project for social inclusion)

Among the proposals for the elaboration of this model, that of the sculptor Ana Mª Marín Gálvez, was the one designated for this company. The artist, in addition to her work as a sculptor, engraver and glass specialist, is professionally engaged in the tactile interpretation of cultural heritage, with a career spanning more than 15 years in this medium. Her works include, for example, the tactile model of Palau Güell, of La Pedrera, of the Pedralbes Monastery in Barcelona or the Museum of Natural Sciences in London, among others.

Ana Ma. Martín Gálvez working process. ©Arnau Vilalta Marín

Regarding this work, Ana María Marín comments: “Sculpture as a three-dimensional object serves not only to give rise to a contemplative activity but also results in an object of empirical knowledge in being able to touch it, offering the perception of shape, texture and temperature both to those people who do not have a sense of sight and to those who want to experience the sense of touch complementing the visual information, which also gives an inclusive and pedagogical value to each experience of interpretation».

“The fact of working for groups such as the blind or other disabled people brings us closer to other citizens, who can also enjoy freedom in every way. Every society that thinks and acts for the inclusion of its citizens obtains a quality of life and a sociocultural level that is firmer, more defined and more sustainable than those who have not yet done so”says Marín Gálvez .

To make the tactile model Marín has counted on the collaboration of Alireza Doustani Khazali, a master craftsperson in fine marquetry, a teacher and a sculptor in wood, with more than 40 years of experience developed between Spain and Iran, who is also a member of the “Honourable Guild of Master Carpenters” of Barcelona and is a master craftsperson in various projects for the Generalitat de Catalunya.

Alireza Doustani Khazali working process. ©Arxiu Ana Ma. Martín Gálvez

Regarding the people who were key in carrying out this project, both Ana María M. G. and Alireza Doustani highlight the participation of Xisca Rigo, a technician of accessibility from a user perspective. Rigo is linked to the field of cultural accessibility and is a member and secretary of the The Spanish Association of Universal Accessibility Professionals (ASEPAU). The project has also had the support of the Catalan Association for the Integration of the Blind (ACIC), represented in this case by Txell Aymerich. 

Visit to the workshop of Ana Maria Marín with Xisca Rigo and Txell Aymerich, consultants in sensory accessibility. Photo: Teresa González

Some details on the making of the MNAC Tactile Model

As explained by Ana María Marín G., giving greater accessibility to cultural goods is a job that requires dedication, passion and knowledge. In the case of the tactile interpretation of heritage, it is necessary to pay attention to how the materials are chosen, because they respond as faithfully as possible to the temperature, shape and texture, which bring the person with some visual dysfunction closer to understanding the original object.

Tactile model, working process. ©Arnau Vilalta Marín

What is ideal in exploring a model for a blind person, is that it is not larger than what can be reached with both arms outstretched, so that the person can get an idea of the proportion of the whole and its parts.

In this case the tactile model is made to a scale of 1:168 and measures 100 x 100 x 50 cm. It is made almost exclusively of beech wood, hand-cut with a marquetry saw and also incorporates other materials such as glass and terracotta. The details of doors and windows are being worked with marquetry to highlight the reliefs of the different parts.

This post has been published in ANDARTE website .

ANDARTE and Ana Ma. Marin Galvez

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