Lancaster Museums Create 3D Printed Versions of Paintings for the Visually Impaired

Published on September 29, 2022 by Clemens M.

In a recent project, Lancaster City Museums, Lancaster University, and Galloway’s Society for the Blind in Morecambe joined forces to 3D print relief versions of paintings from the museum’s art collection. The purpose of this is to give people with visual impairments the opportunity to engage with and admire the artwork at the museum. The project is going to be conducted by two university engineering students, who will be working together with the Museum and Galloway’s. 

When it comes to art and museums, most people think of them as something that is purely visual. For anyone who is planning on visiting a gallery, the thought alone of not being able to see the masterpieces of art would simply not make any sense. Therefore, it is hard to imagine how one might interact with famous paintings and admire their beauty without the visual aspect. Thanks to an initiative at the Lancaster City Museum and with the help of additive manufacturing, however, those with visual impairments will be given the opportunity to enjoy famous pieces of art as well.  

Inside the Lancaster City Museum

How The Reliefs Are Made

As mentioned earlier, the initiative, named the ‘Feeling as Seeing project’, will be using 3D printing technologies to create relief versions of the paintings exhibited at the Lancaster City Museums. The 3D printed pieces will be created in a way, in which those unable to see can get an impression of the artwork by touching it. The process of feeling the artwork is similar to the reading of letters written in braille. What exact technologies and materials are going to be used for the process haven’t been revealed yet. It is also likely that each 3D printed relief will include an individual audio description.  

To create those special reliefs, the university and the museum will also be aided by people with sight loss to develop effective methods and reach the best possible results. Professor Claudio Paoloni, of the School of Engineering at Lancaster University, is excited about the project, stating: “One of the missions of Engineering is to find solutions for overcoming barriers. I am delighted that the School of Engineering has contributed, in collaboration with the Lancaster City Museum and Galloways, our expertise in 3D printing, to offer those with sight loss a new way to enjoy the wonderful artworks of the Lancaster City Museum.” 

“Lancaster from Cable Street” by Julius Caesar Ibbetson is one of the paintings that will be used

The long-term goal of the “Feeling as Seeing” project is to use the 3D printing process to create relief versions of paintings for all future exhibitions and make them accessible to those without the ability to see. To find out more, you can visit the museum’s website HERE. 

What do you think of the initiative to 3D print paintings for people with visual impairments to experience? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*All Photo Credits: Lancaster City Museums

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