Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Promotes Access to the Arts through the Mashburn Marshall Tactile Gallery

Young child touching a sculpture.Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Colorado Springs Fine Art Center reminds visitors about the Mashburn Marshall Tactile Gallery as they celebrate Awareness Month. The Tactile Gallery offers visitors the opportunity to experience art, not only visually, but with their hands. The mission of the Tactile Gallery is to enrich the museum experience of each visitor to the Fine Arts Center, with particular emphasis on those with disabilities, through interactive exhibitions and programs.

Children's hands on a round object.One of the first galleries of its type in the country, the Tactile Gallery was established in 1981, the brainchild of docents Peggy Marshall and Mary Mashburn. As a prototype for their bold plan, they used the Mary Duke Biddle Gallery for the Blind in the Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art. The founders created a space where all patrons could be self-sufficient and enjoy the full experience of art.

Visitors may tour independently or with docents that are specially-trained in conducting group tours. Braille signs and labels that offer information about the works of art are available in front of each object. Displays are low enough for those of various heights and those who use wheelchairs to reach the art objects and understand their essence through the sense of touch.

The Tactile Gallery focuses on sculpture in various media and features changing exhibits from its own permanent collection and other private collections. The Tactile Gallery collection currently includes more than 95 objects, many by well-known contemporary artists, including Glenna Goodacre, David Chamberlain and Michael Naranjo.

Gifts of art objects as memorials or living tributes are often given to this unique collection, providing an ongoing reminder of the timelessness of art and its value in our lives. This type of generosity and foresight has made the Tactile Gallery flourish.

The Mashburn Marshall Tactile Gallery is ongoing.