Monday, November 26, 2012

The mysterious faces in downtown Madrid

While walking around Madrid one afternoon (perhaps the day we were searching for a supermarket on the way back to your place after lunch with Herm, Hannah?  I don't remember!), this apartment building caught my eye:
I think it was either an artistic or political display, but never found out what it was exactly.  Here's a close up of one side of the building:
I think we were near the city center, somewhere around Ópera or La Latina.  Has anyone seen this display in Madrid?  What is the statement being made?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

ONCE museo tiflológico

When my sister and grandma visited me in Madrid for a few days back in July (before we headed to Germany together), one of the places we visited was the ONCE Museo Tiflológico (ONCE Museum for the blind, essentially).  If you recall from this post, ONCE stands for Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles (National Organization of Spanish blind people) -- and they sell lottery tickets!  I had never heard of this museum before, but the sister had seen it on a list of free things to do in the city, and it looked interesting.

The phrase "un museo para ver y tocar," is found on the museum's website and brochures, meaning a museum where you can see and touch things.  This museum is the first of its kind in Spain, and it opened on December 14, 1992.  The building is easy to spot, as it features the ONCE logo with a bright yellow strip across the top.

After we had signed in downstairs, we took the elevator up to the museum.  When we exited the elevator and headed towards the main desk, a voice recording said that people had entered the museum.  This way, the blind woman working the front desk would know we were there.  She gave us a brief run-down of the museum, which I later translated to my grandma and sister.

The museum was split into three main sections: salas de maquetas, the room of scale models (of buildings); salas de obras de artistas, rooms of works made by blind or visually impaired artists; and sala de material tiflológico, the room of materials used by blind people through history.

Sala de maquetas

We started in the sala de maquetas.  When we walked through the doorway to enter that section, a recorded voice said that we were now entering the sala de maquetas.   This allows ciegos, bind people, to know where they are going while visiting the museum, as well as the woman working to know where the visitors are.

This was one of my favorite rooms, and you'll soon know why.  It was filled with models of famous European, world, and Spanish buildings.  You could touch all of the models and each contained a booklet in print and in braille, which the sister so nicely shows here (next to the leaning tower of Pisa):

Leaning tower of Pisa
ONCE museo tiflológico, Madrid
Booklet in braille and print
ONCE museo tiflológico, Madrid

I finally got to "see" the Eiffel Tower for the first time:

Eiffel Tower
ONCE museo tiflológico, Madrid

It was really exciting to see lots of the places I had visited in Spain during my two years there (and some landmarks I have yet to see!), especially the model of El Escorial, where I had just visited with my grandma and sister the day before.  So I made them pose in a picture:

El Escorial
ONCE museo tifloógico, Madrid

Roman aqueduct in Segovia
ONCE museo tiflológico, Madrid

Here I am with my one of my favorite Madrid monuments, Puerta de Alcalá:

Puerta de Alcalá
ONCE museo tiflológico, Madrid

Salas de obras de artistas

We exited that first room and headed across the way to two room featuring art made by blind or severely visually impaired people.  Again, a recorded voice sounded every time we walked through a doorway.  Here were the pieces that caught my eye in this room:

Las Zapatillas Viejas
(Patxi Ruiz)
ONCE museo tiflológico, Madrid

África verde
(Pilar Lasierra)
ONCE museo tiflológico, Madrid

Gallos de pelea
(Idoia Díaz Cámara)
ONCE museo tiflológico, Madrid

Sala de material tiflológico

We walked down some stairs to get to the last room, which featured some materials and tools used in daily life throughout the history of the blind.  This exhibit also included multiple displays of old ONCE lottery tickets, of course.

And that ended our visit.  If you've never been, I would highly recommend going to the ONCE museo tiflológico (especially if you live in Madrid).  First, it's free.  Second, you can touch the exhibits!  And finally, it's not your average museum so you'll probably learn a thing or two, or spend some moments thinking about the world from the perspective of a blind person.  And again, my favorite part was the room with all of the scale models of famous monuments, so you've got that to look forward to as well.

Has anyone else been to this museum?  What about a museum for the blind in a country other than Spain?

What: ONCE Museo Tiflológico
Where: c/ La Coruña, 18
Metro: Estrecho (line 1)
Hours: 10:00 - 14:00 Tuesday - Saturday, 17:00 - 20:00 Tuesday - Friday; closed Mondays and Sundays
Price: Free (Must present your D.N.I. or passport)