Iberdrola brings the “Arte para Tocar” exhibition for the visually impaired to Irún

Iberdrola brings the “Arte para Tocar” exhibition for the visually impaired to Irún

  • ‘Arte para Tocar’ is a traveling exhibition that the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and Iberdrola launched in 2012
  • The exhibition, sponsored by Fundación Iberdrola España, has already visited more than 8 educational centers in the Basque Country so far this year

The Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao and the Fundación Iberdrola España have presented this morning at the Pio Baroja Institute of Irun the exhibition `Arte para Tocar`, a program aimed at visually impaired people.

Since 2008 Iberdrola, through its foundation, and the museum have shared the goal of extending accessibility to a wider public and raising awareness of its significance through proposals that use art as an educational tool. Among the activities and workshops developed by the museum’s Education Department for this purpose, Arte para Tocar stands out for its pioneering nature. This exhibition, launched in 2012, has subsequently been adopted by other museums such as the Prado or the Thyssen in Madrid and the Pushkin in Moscow.

The activity was attended by Miguel Zugaza, director of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum; Fernando García, president of the Fundación Iberdrola España; María Victoria Antoñanzas, head of Education and Cultural Action of the museum; Andoni Albisu, director of IES Pío Baroja BHI and Mercedes Andrés, director of the Resource Center for the Educational Inclusion of Visually Impaired Students IBT-CRI Donostia.

In its first editions, the program was developed in situ and, after having received nearly 600 participants, thanks to the proposal of the Fundación Iberdrola España, the Department of Education decided to expand the scope of its objective beyond the museum itself, initiating its exhibition by educational centers in Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa. This extension of the museum’s educational activity beyond its headquarters has been carried out since 2018 and, since then, 32 educational centers and 7,482 students have participated in it.

The program is based on a technological development by Estudios Durero (Bilbao), which gives texture and relief to digital images of works from the museum’s collection, thus transforming them into supports that students can explore by touch. The sensorial experience is didactically completed with an audio guide -in Basque, Spanish, or English- designed for the interpretation of the paintings. Also included is a commentary -in Basque and Spanish- on the work and a Braille sign. Finally, to raise awareness of the inclusive nature of this proposal, masks are made available to the public so that anyone can participate in this sensory experience.

‘Arte para Tocar’ has been expanding its offerings from the initial five works to the current eight, including a new one this year. In addition to increasing the number of panels, the incorporation now of María Blanchard (Santander, 1881-Paris, 1932) represents a qualitative improvement in the representation of women artists, in this case with one of the most outstanding painters of the cubist movement. Her work Femme Assise (Seated Woman) -the figurative representation of a woman following the cubist code of faceted planes- makes her especially appropriate for this program.

Thus, these eight works complete a journey through influential periods and artists in the history of art: Noah’s Ark, a work of the Catalan Romantic dated to the last third of the 13th century; The Annunciation by El Greco and Saint Sebastian cured by the holy women by José de Ribera, both belonging to the Spanish school; Italian Baroque painting Lot and his daughters by Orazio Gentileschi; Seated Woman with a Child in Her Arms by Mary Cassatt, one of the most emblematic painters of the Impressionist movement; Lying Figure in Mirror by Francis Bacon; The Little Village Girl with the Red Carnation by Basque artist Adolfo Guiard; and, the latest addition, Femme Assise (Seated Woman) by Maria Blanchard.

In addition to IES Pio Baroja, `Arte para Tocar’ will pass through four more high schools during the 2022-2023 school year. The exhibition, which began its itinerancy in January 2023, will have passed through a total of 13 educational centers. Currently, the number of participants is expected to be 3,195. The number of people who have enjoyed `Arte para tocar` is 1,985.

Fundación Iberdrola España, committed to society

Since its creation, Iberdrola has been committed to the energy, cultural and social development of the communities in which it is present. In this regard, Fundación Iberdrola España represents a further step in this commitment, through the promotion of initiatives that contribute to improving the quality of life of people. One of the areas on which it focuses its activity is cultural development and, especially, the care and maintenance of cultural and artistic wealth.

This area includes collaboration with the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, which includes support for the Conservation and Restoration program, the creation of scholarships for training and research in the field of conservation and restoration of works of art, and collaboration in the development of educational activities specifically designed to raise awareness of the museum’s collection among audiences with special needs due to visual or cognitive disabilities, or in social insertion programs.