The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has introduced a detailed 3D-printed touchable scale model of both the interior and exterior of the building at its entrance.
Visitors can now use the 3D-printed model, made by local designers, to literally to feel their way around the museum building and find their bearings during their visit.
The model, which includes all floors and walking routes, is designed to help make a visit to the museum easier for everyone, but especially for blind and partially sighted visitors.
Benefits include showing visitors where the lifts are located and offering detailed information about the walking routes and what is on display on each floor.
It also complements the museum’s Feeling Van Gogh interactive programme for the visually impaired.
Collaboration with target groups
With the assistance of partners, Bartiméus Fonds, the museum collaborated with numerous blind and partially sighted visitors when developing the scale model.
The partners organised various focus groups, test sessions and used the expertise of Stichting Accessibility, part of Bartiméus, which is a foundation to increase accessibility and create an inclusive society.
Séverine Kas, Consultant at Stichting Accessibility, said: “It was a special experience to be involved with this project. Wayfinding can often be difficult at museums and can be a hindrance for blind and partially sighted visitors.
“The new touchable scale models allow visitors to use both hands to gain an overview and understand the buildings, while allowing sighted visitors to see how the museum is laid out at a glance. The model encourages discovery.”
Continuing the development
The museum says it will continue to develop the model and accessibility in general and touchable floor plans are being developed to be installed next to the lift entrances on each floor of the permanent collection. Touchable floor plans will also be produced for temporary exhibitions.
Emilie Gordenker, Director of the Van Gogh Museum, said: “Thanks to the support and expertise of the Bartiméus Fonds and Stichting Accessibility, we have made another step in improving accessibility to the Van Gogh Museum. We hope to make further improvements in the years ahead, in order to offer all of our visitors an unforgettable museum experience.”
Help with wayfinding
There are two elements to the scale model: a miniature version of the exterior of the Van Gogh Museum complex – the Entrance Hall on Museumplein, the Exhibition Wing and the main building – and an open model of all the museum floors.
The miniature versions of the buildings include details such as the impressive staircase in the main building designed by Gerrit Rietveld and opened in 1973.
The aim of the new touchable scale model, the museum says, is to help visitors grasp the museum’s layout and what each floor has to offer, during a guided or independent visit.
Located in the Van Gogh Museum’s Entrance Hall, the scale model is immediately offering visitors the opportunity to get their bearings and navigate through the building.
By feeling the model, blind and partially sighted visitors can experience the architecture and the layout of the Van Gogh Museum buildings.
Mirjam Eikelenboom, Educator at the Van Gogh Museum, said: “The touchable scale model is specifically designed for visitors with various visual impairments but will also assist many of our other visitors during their visit. It is vital that blind and partially sighted visitors also feel welcome at our museum. Experiencing art is about more than simply seeing it.”