Museum Digital Touch Project wins Jodi Award

Our long running Art Gallery and Museum Group meet each month and visit a museum or gallery across Greater Manchester. Over the past 7 years visually impaired members of the group have been consulted by Manchester Museum and Touch and Discover Systems to support the development of 3D digital technologies, making museum collections more accessible.

The project team was awarded a commendation in the 2017 Jodi Awards for their work. This involved the development of two 3D digital technologies – the Probos Haptic Sensory Console and Digital Touch Replicas.  Jodi Awards are given in the memory of Jodi Mattes, and recognise the best use of technology to widen access to learning and collections for disabled people in museums, galleries and heritage sites.

Both of the new technologies developed were tested extensively with Henshaws users at Manchester Museum and at our Art & Crafts Centre in Knaresborough, as well as with visually impaired groups in Vienna and Berlin.

Henshaws Group Member, MaiLing Wong exploring the 3D print of “The Kiss” by Klimt with audio information and description.

At the last focus group session at Manchester Museum, Henshaws service users looked at the Probos sensory console, a Digital Touch replica of an Egyptian cat sarcophagus, and a prototype of a development involving Gustav Klimt’s famous picture “The Kiss” .

The image above shows Henshaws group member, Mai Ling Wong, exploring a 3D print of “The Kiss” with audio information and description.

The Probos sensory Henshaws Group Member, Peter Ball, handling the Digital Touch replica of the wooden Egyptian cat sarcophagus, with concealed touch sensors, which deliver audible information to the handler.console uses haptic computer technology, which enables blind and visually impaired museum visitors to virtually ‘touch’ 3D scans of museum artefacts, presented with audio and multimedia information.  Haptic touch-enabled systems have been around for many years, but only fairly recently been employed by museums and galleries, which are full of millions of objects which can be digitally scanned.  The Probos sensory console already includes a number of objects from other museums around the world, opening them up to a new, more inclusive audience.

Henshaws are delighted to be involved in this innovative research, which will enable visually impaired people to access collections and the visual arts more easily, and hopefully encourage more disabled people to visit their local museums and galleries, without the barriers previously experienced.

If you’d like to get involved with our Art Galleries and Museums Group then email info@henshaws.org.uk or call 0300 222 5555

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Sarah
Sarah is the Marketing Manager with responsibility for Community Services across Greater Manchester, and the Knowledge Village.