National Federation of the Blind
Members visit the Wadsworth Athenaeum
By Bruce Woodward
On a cool, wet Saturday morning
in October a number of our members gathered in the lobby of The Wadsworth
Athenaeum in downtown Hartford. The NFB of CT had received an invitation
from the director of education. His expressed goal is to provide access
to the Athenaeum for blind and visually impaired individuals.
We met with several docents,
all volunteers, and broke up into small groups of no more than four. It
was soon apparent that this was a new experience for the docents as it
was for many of us. The docents needed to learn what to do and what was
not necessary. These adjustments were made quickly and all agreed it was
a wonderful experience.
Our docent took us to four
paintings, a beautiful statue and an intricate crystal ewer. He described
each item not only from a visual standpoint but also from a historical
standpoint. His love for fine art added so much to our experience and
enjoyment. The first item we saw was what I believe was a crystal ewer.
It was striking in its detail and colors. Next we saw two beautiful landscapes,
one of an exciting Maine coastline scene and the other of peaceful open
fields with the Adirondacks in the distance. The Maine coastline scene
was painted in 1863 and our docent told us about the artist's connection
to the Civil War. Then he took us to a full portrait of a stately, older
lady that could easily have been my grandmother and perhaps yours also.
This was my favorite. He described the incredible detail that the artist
had created and the lovely pastel colors. Finally we viewed a classical
Roman statue of a woman wearing a toga. I noticed the classical Roman
nose but our docent reminded me that the Romans inherited that nose style
from the earlier Greek tradition!
A nice aspect of our visit
is that we studied just a few pieces of art rather than to try and assimilate
too many pieces. The in-depth aspect was very much appreciated. Now, for
future visits it would be best to call the museum's education department
and schedule a specific time with a docent. Remember, the docents are
volunteers. We are certainly looking forward to return visits.
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