In 2009, Laumeier Sculpture Park partnered with Lighthouse for the Blind–St. Louis to evaluate existing interpretation and collaboratively designed new interpretive tools. Laumeier has created a series of maquettes (cast scale models) including a topographic orientation map of the Park to help sight-impaired visitors navigate and enjoy the Park and the art on site.
Each bronze maquette is sited atop a concrete and aluminum base that provides interpretive text panels in both printed English and Braille. The design of the maquette bases, the Braille description and the maquettes themselves all provide a conducive and engaging experience for blind or low-vision visitors.
The maquettes are part of a new Wayfinding Initiative, designed to improve the visitor experience and the interpretation of the Park’s sculptural, historical and natural elements under the direction of LP/w Design Studios, Milwaukee. In 2012 we will continue the program by repairing damage, correcting forms and improving the text of two of the earlier maquettes: Richard Fleischner, St. Louis Project, 1989 and Alexander Liberman, The Way, 1972-80 and two new artworks: Ian Hamilton Finlay’s, Four Shades, 1994 and Mark di Suvero’s, Bornibus, 1985-87. This phase will also be underwritten by Lighthouse for the Blind–St. Louis.
Laumeier’s blind maquette program began in 1991 with assistance from Citicorp and the National Endowment for the Arts produced 12 maquettes. The current program includes the re-design of existing maquettes to meet national standards, with the creation of 20 new maquettes over a three-year period.
“Laumeier is grateful for the assistance of the Lighthouse for the Blind in helping make interpretation of these great works of art more inclusive for visitors of all abilities,” said Marilu Knode, Executive Director at Laumeier Sculpture Park. “This effort is part of an ongoing initiative to improve the visitor experience at Laumeier that will provide greater context and deeper understanding of the Park’s collection.”
“The Lighthouse is very pleased to partner with Laumeier in adding these new maquettes to what already is a top-shelf facility in its desire to be as accessible as possible for people with visual impairments. We believe it is crucial that we as a community recognize the needs of the visually impaired and continue to improve all cultural and entertainment venues to be as accessible as possible to those with disabilities,” said John Thompson, President of the Lighthouse for the Blind–Saint Louis.
“I think these new maquettes and the new tactile map are going to go a long way towards allowing blind and visually impaired visitors to enjoy and to study some truly phenomenal works of art,” said Stephen Kissel, Blind Community Enrichment Associate for the Lighthouse for the Blind–Saint Louis. “The models really defy the misconception that art can only exist as a visual display, and that is the sort of creativity we’re trying to use in order to benefit a larger community of sighted and non-sighted individuals.”
Blind maquettes installed throughout the park include:
Vito Acconci, Face of the Earth #3, 1988
Jackie Ferrara, Laumeier Project, 1981
Dan Graham, Triangle Bridge Over Water, 1990
Jene Highstein, Ada’s Will, 1990
Jenny Holzer, ten Untitled plaques from the series Living, 1980-82
Mary Miss, Pool Complex: Orchard Valley, 1983-85
Beverly Pepper, Cromlech Glen, 1985-90
Judith Shea, American Heartland Garden, 1992 and Public Goddess, 1992
Robert Stackhouse, St. Louie Bones, 1987
Tony Tasset, Eye, 2007
Ernest Trova, Falling Man, 1969
Laumeier Sculpture Park Orientation Map, 2010
The bronze maquettes are cast by local artist and educator Thad Duhigg.
The Lighthouse for the Blind–St. Louis is a privately chartered, 501(c)3 non-profit corporation established in 1933. Through the manufacture and sale of products to various government agencies as well as commercial customers and individuals, Lighthouse is able to further its mission of assisting individuals who are legally blind maintain dignity and independence by making available employment, education and support services. Lighthouse is committed to providing a supportive environment where its employees can count on developing new and productive skills that will assist them in reaching amazing levels of independence.