OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Right now, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art has an exhibit that makes art accessible to the blind and low-vision community.

Touch and sound provides some with a museum experience they never thought possible.

“It meant so much to me just to finally understand what everybody was talking about myself,” said Steven Johnson as he toured the exhibit. “Instead of having to be told somebody else’s interpretation of what the painting looked like, or how made them feel. I got to feel it myself.”

Johnson was born blind but his other senses guided him through the Fighters for Freedom: William H. Johnson Picturing Justice exhibit at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

The exhibit displays art in audio and tactile formats.

“I had never had paintings described like that – and the tactile art that’s here,” Johnson said. “I mean, the buildings and the figures were so lifelike, their size, the detail of their face, the shape of their heads. The buildings even had like a woodgrain texture. I could tell if a building was brick or wood.”

OKCMOA got this exhibit through the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and it was funded through Art Bridges in Arkansas – but they wanted everyone to be able to enjoy it, so they reached out to local non-profit New View Oklahoma, which works to improve the lives of blind and low vision Oklahomans.

“In conversations with the development team, the education team, we were really interested in how can we make this exhibition more accessible – and Art Bridges was able to fund our craziest ideas,” said Rosie May, Ph.D. with the OKCMOA. 

“Opportunities like this are rare,” Johnson said. “Having things that only sighted people have access to – to suddenly have access to them and understand – when you look at a painting, I can kind of get a feel or a notion of what you’re feeling when you see it. That’s irreplaceable.”

The exhibit will be at the OKCMOA through May 14.