Learning and Multisensory Area, Madrid Costume Museum

Touching the story of the costume feeling the volumes of an 18th-century polonaise or those of a Dior dress, entangling under the skirt of a dress of Romanticism, or following the line of the silhouette modeled by the aesthetic tastes of each historical moment, are some of the experiences that can be perceived in this space specially adapted for people with visual disabilities.

The Costume Museum of Madrid has opened its Multisensory Didactic Area, a new room that facilitates the visit to people with visual disabilities and is included within the route of the same, serving as support for the Permanent Exhibition speech, relying on educational resources that allow visitors to interact.

With this room the Museum aims to become a museum for all audiences from a playful experience, bringing culture closer to society, and in this case, in particular, to suit to those groups with visual disabilities, making some associated aspects more understandable.

This space, inaugurated in October 2014, has been planned following the principles of universal design and with the necessary support to guarantee accessibility and autonomous visit. The type of funds that houses the Museum of Costume, mostly textiles, requires for its conservation level of lighting in the exhibition halls is very low, which makes it difficult to perceive the pieces especially for people with some type of visual impairment. The new space expands what was the Didactic Area of the Museum and turns it into a Multisensory Didactic Area adapted so that people with visual disabilities can also enjoy the museum. The tour begins at the point where the Permanent Exhibition discourse ends and runs parallel to it.

The Costume Museum, like any institution of its category, has as one of its fundamental functions the exhibition and dissemination of its funds and contents (as it appears in Royal Decree 620/1987, of April 10, which approves the Regulation of State-Owned Museums and the Spanish Museum System). When the museum project of the new Costume Museum was raised, among its intentions was to reach as many people as possible. The Multisensory Didactic Area, as well as the whole of the Museum’s exhibition area, and the rest of public spaces (library, didactic workshops, auditorium, etc.) are located on the same floor without any kind of unevenness and in all of them the width is maintained minimum necessary for the passage of a wheelchair.

The material and structural characteristics of the fabrics, in particular, pose conservation and exhibition problems that make it necessary to exhibit them in special conditions that may hinder their perception by the public, since they are composed of Organic materials that are very sensitive to temperature and changes in humidity, dust and insects and myco-organisms, so they must be displayed inside showcases. Another very important alteration factor is light, and to preserve its collections, the option that is technically accepted today is to expose them to approx 50 lux, a very low intensity. They are especially people with vision problems.

The materialization of it has been possible thanks to the sponsorship of Aristia Productions and shows, and the support and advice of ONCE.

Touch Travel
People who access the ‘Multisensory Didactic Area’, the first thing they will find is with a tactile map with information in braille and relief of the different spaces of the museum, and in more detail of this area.

The Multisensory Didactic Area occupies an area of approximately 1130 meters and is located in the space adjacent to which the costume are exhibited, to which it surrounds. The windows that surround it integrate the vision of the garden in this walk through Fashion making it a unique experience.

At the entrance a tactile map with information in braille and relief of the different spaces of the Museum, and in more detail of this area has been arranged. A guide path with elements that stand out that indicate the points where the visitor must turn to meet the modules, and an audio guide that offers audio-described information about the exhibition, offers the visitor with difficulty of vision the possibility of making the route autonomously. Both the routing and the audioguide offer the visitor with difficulty of vision the possibility of making the route autonomously. This information is complemented with braille posters in all modules.

The tour begins with a succession of mannequins dressed in garments that reproduce costumes from the Museum’s collection that mark the evolution of Fashion History, then a textile table with samples of some types of ligaments and tissues. The visit continues through the Didactic Area, which existed since the inauguration of the Museum and is now integrated into this project. In the last section of the area there are a series of replicas of representative pieces of fashion that people can try on. And finally, a rest area that invites you to rest comfortably on some sofas or, if you want, to consult more information in magazines, books or computers that are offered to the visitor.

Following a textured path specially designed for blind or visually impaired people, and with the help of an audioguide that offers audio-described information about the exhibition and about this whole area, visitors will be able to make the entire route in an autonomous way. In addition, in all modules in this area you will find braille posters that complement the information.

The tour begins with a succession of mannequins dressed in garments that are exact reproductions of those of the Permanent Collection and that range from the 18th century to the present, marking the evolution of fashion, both feminine and masculine. Below are silhouettes that allow you to see how the bodies and aesthetic canons were in each era, being able to touch both the dresses and the mannequins.

Continuing along the road, the visitor finds the ‘Textilteca’, a part where the ligaments of the different tissues and tissues are shown and touched, in addition to some tools used to make the tissues. The visit continues through the ‘Didactic Area’, where you can smell the fibers and touch the fabrics.

This ‘Didactic Area’ ends in a very fun area where there are replicas of representative pieces of fashion, such as a corset, a polisón, spines… that can be tested and with which it is proven how uncomfortable it was to move with those suits and shoes.

The tour ends in a small rest room that invites you to rest for a while and in which you can consult more information about the world of the suit in magazines, books or computers, in addition to touching small replicas of dresses from the 16th century.

Ensure that people with reduced mobility can access the Museum and its contents without finding limitations of physical barriers.
Seek participation in the Museum of people with sensory disabilities and vision problems.
Facilitate people with cognitive disabilities, a sensory learning space. The sensory resources that are deployed in the Didactic Area serve as a stimulus to these visitors.
Make attractive the incursion into the world of clothing and involve the visitor in their knowledge. The possibility of maintaining direct contact with the replicas or interacting with different elements is extremely attractive to all types of audiences.
Contribute with this space to the awareness of society towards groups with disabilities and their right to participate as any other person in cultural life.

In conclusion, this project has been raised within an integrative project that brings the Costume Museum a little closer to the challenge of realizing the universal right of access to culture for people with disabilities.

Museo del Traje, Madrid
The Museo del Traje is a museum located in Madrid, Spain, with collections devoted to fashion and costumes. The museum has over 160,000 pieces and documents. The current building was completed in 1973. Collections date from the Middle Ages up to clothes by Spain’s contemporary fashion designers. It was declared Bien de Interés Cultural in 1962.

The Madrid Costume Museum is a Spanish museum, under the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, located in the University City of Madrid. Its basic objective is to promote the knowledge of the historical evolution of clothing and testimonies of the ethnological heritage representative of the cultures of the peoples of Spain.

It is a National Museum of Spain attached to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, is exclusively managed by the General Directorate of Fine Arts and Cultural Heritage.

The Museo del Traje is a National Museum which depends on the Ministry of Culture and Sports. Its basic aim is to promote an understanding of the historical development of costume. Its collections draw a path throw four centuries of the history of fashion, from the 17th century to nowadays.