The Prado Museum in Madrid has open up a new exhibition called “Touch The Prado” that invites blind and partially sighted people to touch and feel some of the most famous paintings in the world. The visitors can’t touch the original paintings themselves but an extremely high-resolution 3-dimensional replica of each painting. The exhibit is the product of a new printing process called Didu, developed by the Spanish startup Estudios Durero, that produces physical objects like a 3D printer would, except using a completely different chemical process. The museum selected six masterpieces for the exhibit that include a version of the Mona Lisa by a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci; Goya’s “The Parasol”; a still life by van der Hamen; “Apollo in the Forge of Vulcan” by Velázquez; and “Noli Me Tangere,” Correggio’s painting of Christ meeting Mary Magdalene.
The process begins with a high-resolution photo of the painting. The employees at Durero select textures and features that make sense to enhance for the blind. In this aspect, small details, which may appear insignificant at first sight, can be fundamental in understanding the composition or the theme developed in each image. After around forty hours of work on each image, the volumes and textures are defined and printed with special ink. Then a chemical method is applied that gives volume to the initially flat elements. On these, the real image with the original colours is printed, at a suitable size so that it can be touched and reached with the hands.
The exhibition will run until June 28.
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