Visually challenged visitors who cannot see the treasures of the Indian Museum will soon be able to touch and feel replicas of some of the artefacts and read about them in Braille signages.
“We will have signages in all the galleries within a year. It doesn't matter whether you can see with your eyes or not. What we have here is national treasure and it should be accessible for all,” museum Director Dr Jayanta Sengupta said.
“You can feel the vibrancy of heritage around yourself. Being in the vicinity is itself an experience,” he said.
The first one to have such signage will be Bharhut gallery which shows the architectural remains from Bharhut belonging to Shunga period, along with similar fragments from Bodhgaya during second and third century BC. Buddhist stupa is the most precious possession in the gallery.
Amiyo Kumar Biswas of the Blind Persons' Association said they prepared Braille text for signage in three languages - Hindi, English and Bengali.
Having Braille scripts however won't be enough for the visually challenged visitors and therefore the
museum is also working on plans to prepare replicas of some of the gems. The 202-year-old Indian Museum, the oldest in Asia, already has a modelling unit comprising five staff, who make different types of models using clay, plaster of Paris, fiber glass, etc.
“We also have a replica section which has replica of some coins but now we are planning to have interactive corners where the touch and feel factor will be introduced for all. It will be of special use to our blind visitors,” the museum director said.
Biswas, himself a visually challenged person, said they visit museums but take someone along with them who can describe the collection to them verbally and read out the signages. “If the museum has replicas which are not locked under glass doors then we will be able to feel it on our own to find out how the original might look like,” he said.
Museum officials said besides this the visually challenged visitors can also take the help of guides.
“We have guides and we also have trained our interns to act as guides,” they said.
On the occasion of World Environment Day which falls on June 5 each year, the Braille gallery will be inaugurated.
To attract children and youngsters, a new fun-filled activity of “Indian Museum Detective Trail” will also be kicked off on the occasion. Themed on wildlife, a workshop on clay modelling, painting, music, photography and origami will be held inside the museum campus on Sunday when the British Council will screen two documentaries - David Attenborough’s ‘Natural History Museum’ and ‘Wild Eye From Himalaya to Bay of Bengal’.