Close your eyes and imagine...


Cooing notes of laughing lutes and harps play with whispers of myrrh, lemon and cyprus-burning incense... Angels are brought earthbound, sharing their song, embraces of ethereal silk taffeta and glowing warmth of golden halos...Let your fingers trace the cool wind blowing in the robes draped upon the marble Gods.


Can you visualize this?


Embellish this imagery with a madrigal choir, sparkling the soul with Renaissance magic.


Early one June evening, just before the sun had set on the Eternal City, after the all the tourists departed from the galleries, a group of special guests were escorted through the ancient halls of the Vatican Museums by Father Mark Haydu, Dr. Maria Serlupi Crescenza and Dr. Isabella Salandri, for a private tour of the project ART FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED .


His Eminence Giovanni Cardinal Lajolo, the then president of the Vatican City State, also present during our event, was the mastermind behind this concept. Thanks to his clever and gracious thinking, the Vatican Museums has created a multi-sensory experience so that the visually impaired can 'see' the Masters. Based upon a request he learned from his sister's blind patient, who dreamed of appreciating the Vatican art collection, his Eminence spearheaded this project.


"This project was a large undertaking, recruiting design, restoration and vision experts from around the globe," explained the cardinal. "Vision is a blessing and art is a gift too all, not a luxury. It is exceptional that we are able to offer access to the miracles of art to people who see differently," he furthered.


Our glimpse within the Vatican Museums began with a much-coveted tour of the restoration laboratories. These tactile tours permit the visually impaired to explore a selection of original sculptures on display in the Gregorian Profane Museum and in the Vatican Pinacoteca , the Painting Gallery. This 'tour for the blind' enables visitors to icongraphically understand a selection of masterpieces through touch, multisensory systems and musical stimuli. Thermoformed panels and scale reproduction bas-reliefs equipped with Braille legends and dark print descriptions help visitors appreciate the masterpieces.


Our tour was enhanced by Deborah Tramentozzi , an exceptionally profound and touching woman who is passionate about art. Blind at birth, Ms. Tramentozzi has never seen the light of day, nor for that matter, the light miracles of Caravaggio's paintbrush. Ms. Tramentozzi expertly described curves of and lines of sculptures, from the details of a torso's muscle structure to the launch of a kiss from a mouth. Her fingers touched the songs of angels through the voices of a madrigal choir. She added a heartbeat to the canvases and flesh to the sculptures. Ms. Tramentozzi helped us 'see' the art in front of us. We had goosebumps.


"Thanks to the generosity of our Patrons of the Arts, we are able to offer this special tour to the blind and visually impaired without charge," added Father Mark Haydu, Director of the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museums. "With the diligence and creativity of our experts and donors, we are working to enhance this tour and its offerings to more visitors." Fr. Haydu was our host for the evening and heads the Patrons program which connects generous donors with sponsorship opportunities in the Vatican Museums. These patrons receive unparalleled access to the Museums, as did our group. With the donations of our attendees we were able to sponsor yet another work to be given a "face" for the blind.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are approximately 285 million visually impaired worldwide. Thankfully, 80% of all visual impairment can be avoided or cured. And from moderate visual impairment to blindness, there are so many people who would never perceive walking into a museum, because they cannot see an exhibit. Now, they can too, see the light.


> Click here to see Photos from this Event
> Click here for information on the Vatican Museums' Tour for the Blind and Visually Impaired


For more information on this event and other events organized by the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums please contact:


Italian & International Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums
Founders & Chapter Leaders:
Amy Gallant Sullivan
Sabrina Zappia

> view photos from this Event!

> Click here for information on the Vatican Museums' Tour for the Blind and Visually Impaired



A special thanks to the Patrons Office in the Vatican Museums, to Father Mark Haydu, Sara Savoldello, Carolina Rea and Romina Cometti and to the Didactics Office of the Vatican Musuems with Maria Serlupi Crescenzi and Isabella Salandri.


An incredible thank you to Debora Tramentozzi for her input and her description of what she "saw" through her hands during this tour.



Touching Art

Touching Art in the Vatican Museums

Madonna di Bruges
Michelangelo's Madonna di Bruges for the Visually Impaired

Multisensory Tour in the Vatican Musuems Italian Patron Event

Multisensory Itinerary in the Vatican Gardens

Italian Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums
Vatican Museum Masterpieces Speak to the Hearing Impaired

Italian Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums

Vatican Museum Masterpieces unveiled for the Blind



make a donation to the Patrons of the Arts



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