Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and Metrolina Association for the Blind in Charlotte, NC, Offer Program that Lets People who are Blind or Visually Impaired Touch Works of Art

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In this innovative, hands-on program, participants with low to no vision are able to explore and experience works of modern art by touch. Courtesy of doctors who are deeply attuned to the workings of human senses, Horizon Eye Care is supporting the Low to No Vision Program, a partnership between the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and Metrolina Association for the Blind (MAB) in Charlotte, NC.

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Photo courtesy of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art

Wearing thin professional gloves used by conservators and curators, participants are allowed to explore and experience (depending on the current exhibition) sculptures; mid-century furniture; reproductions of paintings and prints; ceramics and more in the Bechtler collection. The program also features a series of art classes in which participants learn about techniques used by artists in the Bechtler collection and then create their own tactile works of art. Tour times and dates in 2016 are 10:30am- noon on Jan. 25, Feb. 22, March 29, April 19, May 31 and June 21, 2017.

After completing a two year pilot with MAB, the Low to No Vision Program is now accessible to all in the Charlotte community. Those interested can register online through the Bechtler website at (www.bechtler.org) or call the museum at 704/353-9200.

Participants, often visibly moved by the tactile tours, are unanimous in their enjoyment of the program that began in 2014. One hundred percent said they were more interested in art after the program, they discovered something new about the art-making process and they would want to take part in another Bechtler program.

Christopher Lawing, vice president and director of programming at the Bechtler, said: “We are extremely grateful for the support of Horizon Eye Care to allow us to continue to make art accessible to individuals with vision loss.” Bechtler staff, teaching artists and docents were trained to work with this population by MAB Senior Vice President Laura Park-Leach.

Kathy Murray, Horizon’s chief operating officer, said the program has been well received by everyone involved. “There is powerful impact in all we are able to see, at whatever level. Our doctors’ understanding of this is part of what makes us the region’s vision care leader and why we are so privileged to support this program. Our doctors are committed to patients’ quality of life in any vision context. It isn’t just their job. It’s a part of their values.”

Horizon Eye Care, a locally owned and operated ophthalmology practice providing quality eye care services to Charlotte area residents, was formed in 1997. Horizon offers a full range of ophthalmology services including surgical and medical eye care with corneal, retinal, neuro-ophthalmology, oculoplastics, glaucoma, and pediatric exams as well as routine eye care. These are supported by preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic services, including optical and contact lens departments, LASIK and aesthetic services. More information (www.horizoneye.com) or call 704/365-0555.

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to the exhibition of mid-20th-century modern art. It is named after the family of Andreas Bechtler who assembled and inherited a collection created by seminal figures of modernism.  Their mission is to share the joy and excellence of the Bechtler collection with all in order to inspire, inform and enhance cultural and intellectual life. The museum is located at Levine Center of the Arts, 420 South Tryon Street, Charlotte 28202. Operating hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10am– 5pm; Sunday, noon–5pm; closed Tuesdays. For museum details visit (www.bechtler.org).

Metrolina Association for the Blind is a North Carolina based, private non-profit agency that has provided services to people who are blind or visually impaired since 1934. Metrolina Association for the Blind became a member agency of United Way in 1938, an affiliation it continues to enjoy today. In 1985, Metrolina Association for the Blind became the pioneering leader in providing Braille and large print statements and other documents for financial, utility and telecommunications corporations, and, in 2005, added auditory CD statements. MAB processes about 18,000 monthly statements, in addition to single service documents and Braille textbook printing.

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