Thursday Salute to Originals: Feeling is Believing

Museums are meccas for art and culture lovers. There are countless works to inspire, indulge, and admire – that is, of course, if you can see. Museums aren’t exactly “touch” friendly, making the pastime of viewing classical art a moot endeavor for anyone visually impaired. (How tough would it be always hearing about the Mona Lisa, but never being able to visualize it?)


But recently with the onset and accessibility of 3D printing, famous artworks are now being brought to life in physical form. Seeing a clear gap between cultural masterpieces and how they are interpreted by the blind, designer Marc Dillon of The Unseen Art Project, came up with the idea to utilize 3D printers to bring the subjects off the canvas and into reality. Now, instead of just hearing about a classical piece of art, it can actually be touched, felt, and experienced. Mona Lisa isn’t just a vague description any longer; its famed beauty and prominence are now in a tangible and perceivable physical fashion.



This idea of printing images in three dimensions for the visually impaired doesn’t just have value in the art world, though. The concept has begun to transfer into a more personal area as well – memories.

Photos have the ability to unlock and uncover details that were long forgotten in our memories. For those of us with sight, this is really convenient, and something we frequently take for granted. But if you’re visually impaired, photos won’t help you recall those cherished moments. With no visual cue, those memories can sadly fade, and overtime, completely disappear.



“Touchable Memories,” an experiment by Pirate3D, set out to reinterpret photographic memories in a palpable form. Through the use of 3D printing technology, 2D subjects are pulled from the photo and physically materialized into miniature sculptures, offering a new and innovative way to re-experience, recapture, and remember fond moments from their pasts.

As a group of design-minded people, it always amazes us how creative and thoughtful thinking can overcome the most challenging of problems. And in this instance, technology, art, and design all fuse together to create experiences – experiences that were once virtually inaccessible to the blind – that would otherwise have remained obscured without this remarkable innovation. And for that, we proudly give our Thursday salute! How would physically feeling famous artworks – or even your own memories – alter your perception?

Image credits: Wikimedia, Bored Panda (3D Paintings), Bored Panda (3D Photographs)