Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Luc was only 7 years old when his world went dark and he suddenly became blind. The now 13 year-old recalls feeling left out when his family went to an art museum because he was unable to share in his family’s aesthetic and visual experiences.

“It made me feel like an outsider,” he said.

Two years ago at a convention for the blind, Luc encountered a company called 3D Photoworks, which produces tactile fine art printing for museums and science centers. The samples on hand at the convention included a 3D printing that turned The Mona Lisa into a touchable, raised version. It was even outfitted with sensors that, when activated, played an audio recording to explain the piece. 

John Olson, co-founder of 3D Photoworks, created the company in 2008 after dreaming of a way to give the blind access to art and photography in an innovative manner. Seven years of research and development later, 3D Photoworks developed a framework by which 2D images are scanned, used to carve out 3D art, and overlaid onto a base material.

3D Photoworks played a large role in the creation of the “Sight Unseen” exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and showcased what it can offer to more than 35,000 museums in the U.S. at the American Alliance of Museums Expo in Washington, D.C.