Exhibition organization: the Typhlological Museum
Layout design: Sanja Bencetić and Dragana Ileš
The retrospective exhibition ''We are not Invisible'' marked the 60th anniversary of the Museum, which was opened in 1953 as the Typhlological Museum of the Yugoslav Association of the Blind. The exhibition presented the historical origins, development and activities of the Museum through four permanent exhibitions, from the oldest one in 1956 to the most recent, modern, interactive one opened in 2008. The message of the exhibition is – we are not invisible, come, visit us, we are here for a reason.
The wider public still knows too little about the Museum that has grown awareness of the attitude of the individual and the community towards people who are somehow different than others. The Museum tries to introduce the community to the world of the disabled and foster harmonious and tolerant relations among people, respecting the individuality of each person.
Considering the material it collects and the problems it tackles, the Museum is different. In the last few years, through occasional exhibitions, lectures, workshops and other activities, the Museum has also covered topics related to current social issues in the community and beyond.
''The layout and the communicative value of the exhibition have been inspired by the most important mission the Museum has had from its beginnings until today – to discover and make the public aware of items, facts and events that exist, but which are insufficiently noticed. The wider public is introduced to ‘secrets’ of the life of the visually impaired, the blind are given a chance to experience and actively participate in art, while the modern activities of the Museum expand to cover public awareness of the problems in the marginalization of individuals in general, and to encourage understanding and equality.
Therefore, the textural explanations specifically focus on terms that are significant and interesting, and they visually emphasize the interesting relief illustrations, that would normally probably stay unnoticed. The availability of the exhibits and the understandable contents have been maximally adapted to all visitors regardless of their abilities or disabilities – information sections focus on the most important things and have been presented in an easy and understandable manner, the exhibits are available to children and people who are less mobile, while a part of the exhibits allows for sound and touch interaction.
Through focused circular movement, the timeline and the placing of exhibits guide the visitors through a chronological story of the origins and activities of the Museum, while the titles of units and textual explanations offer information on specific periods and exhibits, the most important activities of the Museum and visitors’ impressions. The first unit is dedicated to Vinko Bek, the initiator of the collection and the first dedicated collector and exhibitor. The second unit described the founding of the Museum, followed by the portrayal of three permanent exhibitions and their special features. Separate units show the scope and diversity of the Museum’s exhibition activities (centrally placed sculpture and posters), librarian and publishing activities, visitors’ impressions and the diversity of modern activities. The chronological layout of the Museum’s work indirectly includes the current permanent exhibition, inviting all visitors to follow up on its future activities.
The exhibition ends with an impressum that invites visitors to take a peek into the ‘insides’ of the Museum and get to know the people whose expertise and immense enthusiasm create the present and develop the future of the Museum. '' (Sanja Bencetić, author of the exhibition layout)
This exhibition of the Typhlological Museum shows that museums can take an active part in upholding and respecting differences.