From left: Reiner Delgado (Blind Association), Belvedere museum manager Agnes Husslein-Arco and Christian Helmenstein (GF Economica) with the tactile graphic of Gustav Klimt’s ‘Kiss’ in front of the original artwork. Photo: AFP

3D printed version of Klimt’s ‘The Kiss’ to give visually impaired a feel for artwork

Austrian gallery unveils 3D graphic of famous painting and encourages the blind and visually impaired to run their fingers over it

Like most artworks in galleries worldwide, visitors haven’t been allowed to touch Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss at the Belvedere museum in Vienna – until now.

This month a special 3D version of the masterpiece was unveiled, aimed at enabling the visually impaired to enjoy the work by running their fingers over it.

The “interactive tactile relief”, made using a 3D printer, makes it possible to touch details of the 1907-08 original, says the Belvedere.

Klimt (1862-1918) made The Kiss, depicting a couple embracing and enveloped in colourful robes, using oil paints and gold leaf during his “Golden Period”.

The new reproduction, which is much smaller than the original, also has sensors that when touched trigger audio commentary about the work.

“We want to open up a whole new chapter of making art available for the blind and visually impaired,” says Rainer Delgado from the German association for the blind and visually impaired.

“Maybe in the future [they] will have a 3D printer of their own at home and will be able to download 3D files from museum web pages.”

The relief is part of an EU project called AMBAVis (Access to Museums for Blind and Visually Impaired People) which aims to offer visually impaired people “barrier-free” access to art.