I was looking through news articles just now, trying to find something that would click with what we talked about in class today, when I went to the front page of the Fox News Archaeology tab. On that page, there was an article about a museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which has a rather large amount of blind patrons coming through it (http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/12/03/pa-museum-tells-blind-visitors-please-touch/). It must be difficult for these people to get any experience at all going through the museum; after all, most information is gathered from looking at artifacts, and there can’t be much else to glean from the docent’s speeches when you can’t see what’s in front of you. However, it is said that blind people can “see” very well with their hands, by touching. And that is why what this museum did was so amazing for them.
Usually (when you can see, at least) there are strict “no touching” policies in effect in almost every museum. I’m sure every one of us has been on a class trip where we were violently whispered at to keep our hands off of the precious artifacts. This makes sense, too; just today Ethan mentioned that the oils on our hands can destroy artifacts much more than the average person would expect. But the people in charge at this museum decided to give the blind something more to visit for; they allowed them to touch artifacts, giving them the ability to get significantly more involved in the museum attractions and hopefully drawing more blind people to come and learn about archaeology. It was an amazing display of adaptation for the museum, who now has a lot more people who it can educate.
However, with the fact that our hands can destroy the things they’re striving to learn about, could it be worth it? I personally am very concerned for the artifacts in the museum, which will be exposed much more to human flesh, and who knows how long they’ll last. As exciting as it is for a whole new category of disabled people to be able to experience a museum in a way they haven’t before, I can’t help but wonder if this museum’s policy will end up hurting more than it helps.