The National Federation of the Blind
of Connecticut
NFBC 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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Updated May 2, 2006