Hi, Two articles. Regards, Lisa http://travel.iafrica.com/destin/europe/348335.htm 'Please dotouch the exhibits' Harry Papachristou Posted Mon, 20 Sep 2004 A small museum in Athens offers blind people a rare chance to literally get in touch with great works of art otherwise kept from them behind plexiglas and protected by hi-tech sensors. "Thank you for helping us discover so much," an anonymous French visitor noted in the guestbook of the Tactual Museum in the Athens quarter of Kallithea. "If you want to see the Venus de Milo you have to go to the Louvre in Paris. But if you want to touch her you'd better come here," Dimitra Asideri, the museum's director, told AFP. Opened in 1984, the museum displays exact, original-size plaster copies of more than 80 works of ancient Greek masterpieces and bas-relief representations, including famous statues such as the Venus de Milo, the Charioteer of Delphi and the Zeus or Poseidon of Artemision. Accessible clay models of the Athens Acropolis with its landmark Parthenon temple are also on show. Adjacent inscriptions in the Greek version of the Braille language for the blind describe the exhibits. Since the Athens Paralympics began last Friday, non-Greek visitors receive headphones offering guided tours in English. "Contrary to other institutions, we actually encourage visitors to touch the exhibits. To our knowledge, there are just four or five museums like ours across the world," Asideris said. "It is so nice to be in a museum when they don't shout at you for getting near the exhibits," read the guestbook inscription of Nigel Howard, another visitor. "Every museum in the world should have a room with replicas for the visually-impaired," said Asideri. "I remember once, when I was in the British Museum in London, I simply refused to leave if they did not allow me to touch the ancient Greek marbles they have there," she said laughing. The Tactual Museum is located in the old offices of the Lighthouse for the Blind, a US-sponsored group founded in 1946 to offer jobs and services to visually-impaired people in devastated post-war Greece. Damaged in a severe earthquake in 1999, the museum reopened in March, just six months before the Paralympics. A separate room opened specially for last month's Olympics, and the Paralympics. It features carved maps and pictures for the blind depicting the Games' mascots and all competition sites in their greater Athens area. In their midst stands a replica of one of the most celebrated ancient sculptures, the Hermes of Praxiteles. "That was the most expensive remake we have. It cost around ?7500," Asideri said. All the sculptures remakes were made by a state-authorised workshop of Greece's Culture Ministry. The museum relies entirely on volunteers for its operation. It extends to two floors and is ? naturally ? accessible to people in wheelchairs. http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1725&dept_id=498331&newsid=12979542&PAG=461&rfi=9 Blind artists tap into their mind's eye for inspiration By Joe McAllister , CORRESPONDENT 09/22 /2004 Most art is admired from afar, a visual delight to those who can view its color, form and texture. But what if you couldn't see? Could you still be a patron of the arts? Better yet, could you be an artist? The Philadelphia Museum of Art's "Form in Art" program answers those questions with the affirmation that art is for everyone, regardless of physical limitations. This hands-on program takes art from aesthetic to tactile, involving adults who are legally blind in a workshop that focuses on their inner artist's vision. "It lets them see art in a new light," says museum spokesperson Dominic Mercier. "Usually art is something visual. This fascinating program concentrates on the tactile properties of art and allows them to see with their hands." The one s et of eyes for all 16 members of the on-going program belongs to wood sculptor Eiko Fan of Havertown. Fan is always on the prowl for raw art materials, even going as far as trash picking, in her effort to "invent" new ways of teaching and doing art. "I go for odd shaped things that my students can make something out of," says Eiko, 52, who divides her time as a working artist and teacher of disabled students. "I invent different ways of creating art with these people. They see by feeling shapes." Using raised features like clay on canvass or three-dimensional figures made of wire, paper mache or wood, Eiko guides her students to create independently. "We encourage independent ideas and we give them the opportunity," Eiko says. "When you make something unique, that's a gift, like food for the soul." One gifted member of Eiko's art class is Broomall resident Arslan Seraydanian. Sighted most of his life, Seraydanian literally went blind overnight from macular degeneration. He was 80-years-old. Now an optimistic 86-year-old, this World War II veteran is back in the fight thanks to Eiko and the "Form in Art" program. "He's unusual in that he pursued art after he lost his eyesight," says his daughter, Carol Seraydanian. "People don't use their other senses. Now he uses his spiritual eyes, his artistic eyes." Seraydanian isn't quite as metaphysical when describing his artistic muse. "Sometimes I haven't the slightest idea what I'm doing," says the modest up-and-coming artist with a laugh. "It just feels good to be working with my hands." And "feel" is what it's all about for these optically challenged artists. The normally staid museum setting becomes more like the Please Touch Museum of art where shape, form and texture often take precedence over color. Not that color is ignored. "They still think in color and color adds character to their work," says Fan. "I find a way to raise the shape so that they can feel the subject. If they can't see and if they can't touch, then nothing exists." Seraydanian's first project was an unlikely one for the former front-line soldier - fashion design. Modeled on the museum's summer exhibit "Shocking: The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli," the octogenarian created a fabric dress sculpture for his wife, Gladys. The inaugural work, complete with the superimposed facial photo of his wife, was entitled "Dress Design for My Wife." The work was exhibited along with nearly 50 of his fellow students work at the Wills Eye Hospital and the Philadelphia College of Optometry. "He's a natural," says Fan. "Some people are really lifetime learners." Carol Seraydanian says her family can appreciate her father's work. "We're getting a kick out of it," she says. "It's encouraging to know that no matter what happens in life, a new experience can present itself at any age." As usual, Arslan Seraydanian is more pragmatic in his artist assessment. "I count my blessings. I made a doll that resembles her and now we have it in the window," he says. "I can't believe that I did it." To find out more about the on-going "Form in Art" program, call the Philadelphia Museum of Art at 215-763-8100 and ask for the museum's Education Department or visit www.philamuseum.org. Currently on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art: "Poetry of Clay" featuring Hawaiian sculptor Toshiko Takaezo. Coming Oct. 2:"African Art/African Voices." To view or purchase the wooden art sculptors of Eiko Fan, call 610-446-0376.