"Walk in the Dark" in Moscow is called a ‘museum’, however, it is not an ordinary one. This is a museum that you can’t see. Visitors walk through its rooms in total darkness. Blind or visually impaired guides take them into the world, that is ordinary for them, where they can touch, hear, smell, taste, but can’t see. We put ourselves in their shoes and start to understand how blind people live in this world. During this walk, we can get an extraordinary experience of using our senses. Therefore, It could be called ‘the museum of senses’.
There are several zones in the museum, and the first one is a studio room. Here, you can walk slowly around in absolute darkness and try to understand which furniture and other things are there. You can sit on a sofa, find a kitchen or a coat stand. Have you ever played a piano or draughts in the darkness? Here, you can try. It is not easy to use a tactile geographic map on the wall. When visitors get used to the darkness, they are ready to follow the guide to the next zone.
The next zone is a street, with the sounds of the road. You can walk along the street, but the main task here is to find a pedestrian crossing using tactile paving, press a button on a traffic light, wait for its signal and cross the road. The guide is here to help you, and the road is not real, but how do visually impaired people cross the road in reality?
Blind and visually impaired people can ‘see’ the artworks. In a zone called “Museum”, you’ll find a few sculptures. Touching them with your hands, you can just enjoy their perfect shapes or use your brain to understand what is it. And it is not at all an easy task. And what about architecture? How does Bolshoi Theatre look like? Or St. Basil Cathedral? They are too large to touch them. Here, you can touch their models.
You can enjoy different smells in the “Shop” zone with some fruits, vegetables and small bags with spices. In the next room with a bar counter and soft music, you can taste drinks, and that is also a riddle. When we see a drink, our brain gets a signal about its taste before we start drinking. When we don’t see it… sometimes, we don’t recognize the taste. The museum also offers special workshops, where you can smell and create fragrances, cook or listen and play music in darkness.
The next room is well-lit, and it is used for education. Here, you can see braille books, special Rubik's cube, the oughts and crosses, regulars, and maps. You can write your name with a special instrument for braille writing. A guide shows you how blind people use computers and smart-phones. On the walls, there are portraits of Homer, Andrea Bocelli, Erik Weihenmayer and other famous blind people. Guides in the museum are very active, they like to get new experience and visit new places, they engage in sports and go to the cinema. You can ask them any questions about their life. How do they buy clothes? How do they find a particular address in the street? Do they have dreams?
Usually, we get 90 percent of the information through the eyes. In Moscow's museum that you can’t see, you can understand the other side of our world. Using your ability to touch, smell, taste and hear, you create another picture of the world and get to know better your own possibilities. “Walk in the Dark” makes us understand how blind or visually impaired people are smart, talented and purposeful.
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