The Mashburn Marshall Tactile Gallery
Where visitors are encouraged to experience art, not only visually, but with their hands
The mission of the Tactile Gallery is to enrich the museum experience of each visitor to the Fine Arts Center, with particular emphasis on those with disabilities, through interactive exhibitions and programs.
A Brilliant Idea
One of the first galleries of its type in the country, the Tactile Gallery was established in 1981, the brainchild of docents Peggy Marshall and Mary Mashburn. As a prototype for their bold plan, they used the Mary Duke Biddle Gallery for the Blind in the Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art. The founders set about creating a space where all patrons could be self-sufficient and able to enjoy the full experience of art.
In the Tactile Gallery, visitors are encouraged to experience art, not only visually, but with their hands. The gallery design enables the visually impaired to tour on their own, and specially-trained docents are available to conduct group tours. Braille signs and labels giving information about the works of art are put in front of each object. Displays are low enough for children and wheelchair users to reach the art objects and know their essence through the sense of touch.
The Tactile Gallery focuses on sculpture in various media and features changing exhibits from its own permanent collection and other private collections. The Tactile Gallery collection currently includes over 95 objects, many by well-known contemporary artists, including Glenna Goodacre, David Chamberlain and Michael Naranjo.
Gifts of art objects as memorials or living tributes are often given to this unique collection, providing an ongoing reminder of the timelessness of art and its value in our lives. This type of generosity and foresight has made the Tactile Gallery flourish.
A Labor of Love
The Tactile Gallery is the project of a committee of dedicated volunteers who work with Fine Arts Center staff to select works for purchase, accept donations, and organize exhibitions. For information on donating to the Tactile Gallery, contact the Fine Arts Center Development Office.