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International Conference Resolution

Following the International Conference “Art within reach: achieving a barrier-free educational access to our Cultural Heritage”, which was jointly organized by the State Tactile Omero Museum, Ancona and the “Anteros” Tactile Museum of ancient and modern painting, of the Francesco Cavazza Institute for the Blind, Bologna, and held at Portonovo, Ancona on 21, 22 and 23 October 2004, the participants, from eight countries in three continents, unanimously approved the following resolution:

present day society increasingly tends to concentrate on the visual aspects of reality, to the point of going beyond the practical uses of visual images to actually identifying reality with them.

As this approach to reality becomes ever more exclusive, it tends to weaken awareness of the solid reality and complexity of the world, of the means of communication relating to it and that people generally have five senses for perceiving and enjoying reality.

The participants highlighted the importance of rediscovering all the possibilies offered by the five senses and, in particular, by touch. They also stressed the extraordinary perceptive and aesthetic potential inherent in touch. This observation, which is true for everyone, is of primary importance for the blind who are forced to use the sense of touch as their primary means of contact with the outside world.

We therefore ask the political and administrative authorities, the staffs of museums and schools, and cultural and communcations agencies to address the following issues, which we consider to be of top priority:

 1. that the educative process take due note of the importance of educating the senses, particularly touch, in the student’s experience of reality, and so as to gain a richer knowledge of the artistic heritage.

2. that the media be aware that there is also a visually-handicapped public among their users and that they therefore, as far as possible, provide adequate verbal descriptions of the images shown.
3. that the cultural heritage be accessible to every citizen and that issues regarding the preservation of exhibits be balanced against the right to enjoy them.

4. that, in particular, museums abandon their generalized, absolute prejudice against touching exhibits and that they apply the ban only to safeguard those exhibits whose physical survival would be compromised by handling.

5. that the relevant authorities undertake to draw up an official certificate of standards of accessibility to both public and private museums. 6. that schools, as principal agents of education, pay sufficient attention to the importance of art appreciation in non sighted pupils’ education and as a means to their cultural and social integration. To that end, we would would strongly suggest more specialized training for teachers and a greater collaboration between schools and museums.

7. That the two fundamental means of enabling integration for every type of public, that is art education for all and equal social opportunities, be at the top of any list of national and European political objectives.

To achieve these general aims, the Conference participants identified some common objectives which they intend to pursue together, by increasing awareness of these issues among the authorities in their own countries and in Europe: 1. To work towards the creation of inter-institutional networks at a European level, taking full advantage of new technology, with the aim of increasing public awareness and promoting distance learning. 2. To identify professional figures who would be suitable as educational assistance and mediation; to recognize the advantages of having non-sighted members of staff to welcome and help visitors.3. To create specialized training for these employees; to create tactile pathways through the museums and provide the individual works of art with labels clearly explaining the level of tactile exploration permitted; to create homogeneous criteria for producing casts, replicas, copies or digital reproductions of original works.

Ancona 23 October 2004

Internacional Conference

Manifesto convegno internazionale

Sala Auditorium
Excelsior Hotel La Fonte
Portonovo (Ancona)
21-22-23 October 2004


Museo Tattile Statale Omero – Museo Tattile di Pittura antica e moderna “Anteros” dell’Istituto dei Ciechi F. Cavazza

With the aegis of
Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali;
Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca;
Regione Emilia Romagna;
Regione Marche;
Provincia di Bologna;
Provincia di Ancona;
Comune di Ancona.

The long standing debate about access to culture, accessible museum pathways, integration of the visually handicapped into mainstream schools, the workplace and society in general, and hence about the effects of positive experiences, has led public and private Museums to examine the multiple psycho-rehabilitative functions of an aesthetic education.

A correct perception, cognition and interpretation of aesthetically rich images can induce structured and creative learning processes which play an important role in both the individual and collective formation of the person.
These are orientating processes in that they lead the person towards a targeted, conscious use of the senses but, first of all, they demand a rigorous investigation of the prerequisites of the starting point. As these processes are perfected, they lead to a strengthening of the cognitive faculties of those born blind, those who have become blind, the partially sighted and the fully sighted. All this generates abilities which are naturally convertible.

The subjects to be discussed at the conference have been chosen to contribute to our overall aim which is to create methods of teaching Art that can be used by the visually handicapped and the sighted of all ages and in diverse contexts.
Our starting points will be disciplines such as the physiology and phenomenology of vision, the psychology of optical and tactile perception, typhlology, aesthetics, pedagogy, theory and teaching of the arts and epistemology.

Museums and Institutes have long felt the need to adequately educate a heterogeneous public and user group who require methodologically efficacious proposals as well as adequate specific and/or unifying services, so that their knowledge of Art is not just extemporany experience but has the possibility of becoming a deeper knowledge of the roots of thought and the structure of visual language.

In order to understand the reasons that have lead to a general critical review of learning systems, mnemonic stratification, conservation and re-elaboration of the knowledge acquired by the non-sighted, partially sighted and fully sighted, we have to understand to what extent representational modes and their meaning are shared, from a perceptive and cognitive point of view as well as from an intellectual and reificative point of view.

The conference, which will be held in Ancona in October 2004, will present these themes prepare the ground for a fruitful interdisciplinary debate between the various experts whose fields of knowledge we consider to be complementary.
Afterwards we are going to publish a scientific paper which will describe the current situation in this field at both national and international level. It will also be a useful handbook for anyone working in art education in museums, art galleries, schools etc…