Museums have been a place of enlightenment and education and a catalyst for sparking conversations and debates between friends for centuries. In the era of social media and visual online communication the need of going to museums for greater understanding has been declining in recent years.
However no Museum more so offers a unique experience which is likely to spark enlightenment & education and help those who visit discover the difference than that of the creative “Dialog im Dunkeln”. A museum where visitors can encounter life as a visually impaired person.
A Mission to help others Discover the Difference
The museum founded 5 years ago is located in the heart of the old town of Vienna, a stone’s throw from the iconic tourist attraction “Café Central“. The idea of “Dialog im Dunkeln” started more than 25 years ago and until 2008 was a touring exhibit visiting major towns and cities across Austria. In 2009 the concept was transformed into a permanent museum situated at Freyung 6, 1010 Wien. It joined sister museums in cities across Germany and in Israel amongst others which are also home to permanent exhibitions.
There are several missions behind “Dialog im Dunkeln” ranging from employing visually impaired persons to providing an impressive experience for visitors. Every year over 35.000 locals, tourists, school children and other visitors come to explore what the museum has to offer.
Walk into the Darkness, and into the Enlightenment
The aim of the guided tour in total darkness which is the main point of the exhibit at the Museum offers visitors the opportunity to experience the daily routine of a blind person. I had the pleasure of experiencing the tour with friends in December. It offered a truly awe inspiring experience of what life is like as a blind person and how interesting it was to rely on your other senses.
Each visitor is equipped with a white cane that is used throughout the tour to assist them on their journey. The tour invites visitors to go shopping and identify products, takes them on a walk in a forest, across swinging rope bridges as well as on a boat ride. The maybe most daring part of the experience is to cross a very busy street at a pedestrian crossing. The most refreshing part of the tour comes at the bar where one can purchase a drink, pay with cash, get an exact change and drink a beverage, all in absolute darkness.
The tour was well conducted and provided a really interesting educational experience. Visitors are likely to be more aware of the challenges faced by the visually impaired and more empathetic towards the needs they have. Using the cane as a method to walking around in darkness is an insightful experience which will empower you to gain respect for those who use it on a daily basis.
Alternative Experiences in the Dark
Besides the daily guided tours offered by the museum, an interesting array of concerts, theatre performances and team building seminars take place regularly. In addition, every Friday and Saturday night you can challenge yourself to have “Dinner in the Dark”.
The museum has a staff of 18 and two very adorable guide dogs that visitors will likely see wandering around the museum. If you would like to discover the difference , then a trip is highly recommended to experience this social and engaging experience at “Dialog im Dunkeln”.
Even if you have already been to the Museum watch out this summer for the exciting temporary exhibit where visitors will be transported into the darkest and into another city with interesting sounds, smells and noises. Visitors of this short-term exhibit will be invited to wonder which country they have been suddenly encapsulated into. Find out more on their website – Dialog im Dunkeln
Thanks to Eva and Nelly for taking the time out of their busy schedule to be interviewed.