See, Touch, Feel – Objects from the Collections of the Museum of African Art
The exhibition called ‘See, Touch, Feel – Objects from the Collections of the Museum of African Art’, authored by Milica Josimov, is an attempt to bring objects of traditional art that have been on permanent display since the founding of the Museum closer to the visitors, by introducing a new, tactile exhibiting methodology. Fifteen exhibits selected from the initial collection – textile items, masks and sculptures in wood, ceramic pots and animal sculptures from the bronze collection – will become an integral part of the permanent exhibition of the MAA after the end of this thematic exhibition.
In the very creation of the exhibition, we relied on our associates with impaired vision. Based on their experiences, impressions and interpretations given during visits to the Museum, we tried to approach the representation of the selected objects with tactile models as clearly as possible.
We created replicas and representational sculptures of objects that faithfully depict the selected originals. We turned the fila cloths of the Senufo people and the textiles of the Fon people of Benin into reliefs, conveying all the details and different textures. The sculptures and masks were sculpted in the proportions of the originals, while the finishing made it possible to emphasize or simplify the details, depending on the legibility of the object itself. Two 3D models of an antelope and an elephant made of plastic are also displayed.
Additionally, an important segment of creating this exhibition was the sensitisation of the audience, who we directly included in the process of making tactile models. Visitors to regular and special programmes of the Museum participated in this endeavour. Together with older fellow citizens at the ‘MAA to All – All to the MAA’ programme, we made a figure of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, modelled after a specimen from the Ethiopian collection of the Seferović family. A kple-kple mask was sculpted with high school students at the ‘Colours of Africa՚ programme, based on the mask of the Baule people from Ivory Coast, while at a specially designed workshop for children called ‘Let's Make a Bird!’, we sculpted a kalao bird (hornbill) together, based on the bird sculptures of the Senufo people from Ivory Coast. The employees of the Museum of African Art worked as a team to carve a pot with a lid, modelled after the container of the Bamana people of Mali. One segment of the exhibition consists of so-called hidden objects, which are placed in special boxes, so as to allow visitors to describe them solely based on touch.
The exhibition ‘See, Touch, Feel – Objects from the Collections of the Museum of African Art’ is furnished with audio descriptions, exhibit labels and texts in Braille, specially adapted for the visually impaired. It is also equipped with tactile path markers, in order to provide permanent access and safe movement for a segment of the audience that is new to the Museum, but at the same time more than welcome.