Visually impaired experience art in new revamped program at Nelson-Atkins

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- How do you experience art if you can't see? The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is working on a new experience for the visually impaired.

The program is being developed with Alphapointe, an organization that is a national leader in vision loss assistance.

The program takes people with impairments through a descriptive and tactical experience. They can learn about the art at the museum, and also feel a select number of the exhibits.

"It's really important for us to have inclusive visitor experiences, and we understand that everyone should be able to enjoy and make the most of their visits here at the museum, and so should the people that are blind or have low vision," Christine Boutrous, Manager of Community & Access Programs at the Nelson said.

"I am very excited to feel everything, and to experience tactile art, because this is my first time learning about art, and that's what I`m here for today," 20-year-old Hunter Hall said. Hall said the experience is something he is enjoying on his weekend home from studying at Missouri's School for the Blind in St. Louis.

"The shapes, and the emotions involved, and how the art evokes emotions, and that whole holistic connection," Clay Berry, Director of Education and Rehabilitation at Alphapointe said. "You know, art shapes so much of the world, and how people think, and how they react to the world around them."

The museum offers a personal guide for every third visually impaired person on the tour to make sure they get personal attention, and the experience is more interactive. It is available for all ages.

The museum has offered a program for the visually impaired with Alphapointe for the past 10 years, but decided to take a look at the program and find new and interesting ways to connect the visually impaired with their collection.

The revamped program is hoping to roll out in the spring of 2019.