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Aldo Grassini and Daniela Bottegoni touching an artwork

The State Tactile Museo Omero – past, present and future.

In 1985, Aldo Grassini and his wife Daniela Bottegoni had an idea. These non-sighted travellers, Esperantists and art lovers had become so exasperated by the “Do not touch” signs they found in every gallery and museum that they decided to create a museum where everything could be handled.

On 29 May 1993, after years of applications and meetings, the Municipality of Ancona (with the support of the Marche Region and the Italian Blind Union) founded the Museo Omero, which began its life in just three classrooms of the Carlo Antognini Elementary school in Ancona. Its collection comprised 19 plaster copies of classical sculptures and an architectural model. The collection gradually increased and, in 1997, the museum moved to the Donatello schools in via Tiziano, Ancona, where it took over an entire wing.

In 1999, the Italian Parliament granted it the status of State Museum (Law 452 of 25 November 1999), in recognition of its unique value to the nation. The purpose of the Museum, as stated in Article 2 of the aforementioned Law, is “to promote the cultural growth and integration of visually disabled people and to spread knowledge of reality among them”.

Nevertheless the Museum has always refused to be a place solely for blind people, its aim being to provide a welcoming, enriching, barrier-free cultural space for everyone.

In the summer of 2012, the Museum moved to its final destination in the Mole Vanvitelliana in Ancona, where it occupied about 3,000 square metres over four floors. These contained a provisional exhibition area on the first floor, where part of the collection was put on display, enlarged learning workshops and offices, a conference hall, documentation centre and other exhibition spaces for exhibitions and events.

In September 2017, the restoration was finally completed and the entire collection found its new home on the second and third floors. At present, there are around 150 works in the collection: copies of classical masterpieces in plaster or resin, architectural models and original contemporary sculptures.

The rooms are permanent, the layout is still provisional.

On 29 May 2018, the Museum celebrated its 25th birthday. Many of the people who helped to make the museum what it is today were present. Tributes were paid to Roberto Farroni, director of the Museum from 2002 to 2011.

Our next steps: the new, definitive, layout of the collection with an innovative, multi-sensory, technologically-advanced pathway; the creation of a new section, donated by the “Per il Museo Tattile Statale Omero – Onlus” Association, which will be dedicated to “Made in Italy” and incorporate the Museo Omero’s special exhibition aims and guidelines.

The Museum has been part of the Direzione Regionale dei Musei delle Marche del Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali e per il turismo since 23 December 2014.

Since 13 July 2017, the President of the Museo Omero, Aldo Grassini, has been a member of the Working Group, set up by the Direzione Musei del Mibact, for the formulation of measures aimed at overcoming cultural, cognitive and psycho-sensory barriers in the places of culture in the Ministry’s charge. (Executive decree of 27 June 2017). The group drew up the Guidelines for drafting the Architectural Barrier Elimination Plan (P.E.B.A) issued on 6 July 2018.

On 20 August 2018, the Museo Omero was nominated as a body qualified to train teachers as set out in Ministerial Directive 170/2016 of the MIUR, Dipartimento per il sistema educativo di istruzione e di formazione, Direzione generale per il personale scolastico.

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