Invisible Exhibition: The Best Showcase You’ll Never See

Town Hall’s Latest Exposition is About Life in the Dark

By Julia Joswick

In complete darkness hands grope at walls and air until they abruptly bump into cold stone. Smooth stone, a statue, but of what? It is almost impossible to tell. The stone twists and turns as hands glide along it. The identity of the replica sculpture remains elusive, until hands come to rest on—yes, on the rear end of Michelangelo’s David.

Courtesy of RawStory.com

Two girls play checkers without eyesight. Photo courtesy of RawStory.com

“Could an hour of blindness open your eyes?” That is the question of Prague’s riveting “Invisible Exhibition”, an interactive showcase which thrusts visitors into the dark. Originally billed to run at New Town Hall until April, the exhibition has since extended its stay indefinitely due to its popularity among locals and tourists alike.

Designed around the principle of bringing the worlds of the sighted and the blind together the Invisible Exhibition is two-fold; in one part sits a lighted gallery full of tools and instruments of the blind. And on the other side? A pitch-black labyrinth of rooms and halls, a convoluted network through which a blind or partially-sighted tour guide provides the only lead.  All in all, the whole experience takes about 90 minutes, and for at least an hour, guests are kept quite literally in utter blackness. But be warned: some people don’t quite realize how afraid of the dark they are until they’re plunged into it head-on.

“Could an hour of blindness open your eyes?” That is the question of Prague’s riveting “Invisible Exhibition”, an interactive showcase which thrusts visitors into the dark.”

Originally started in 2011 as an experimental exhibit for students in Budapest to learn what it means to live without sight, the Invisible Exhibition has since grown to include locations in the Czech Republic and Poland with a new exhibit to be added in the United States in the near future. A journey through the lit gallery brings with it a whole host of information: a comprehensive history of technological adaptations for the blind, a speaking clock, a Braille typewriter. In particular, a painted wooden snakes-and-ladders game board stands out. Designed with pegs and divots for vision-impaired children to follow as they roll specialty die, the game is both amusing and frustrating for visitors to play blindfolded.  Those who really want to test themselves can also try for a round of blind checkers or chess, often with rather ridiculous results.

Of course the real highlight of the exhibit is the hour-long darkened tour. Enveloped in blackness, one can’t help but feel a tad panicked at first; hands groping at nothing, eyes blinking but unseeing, a whole fragment of everyday perception suddenly gone. However, once the overall shock of losing sight has passed, the tour becomes fascinating and dynamic. Led through seven different rooms by a blind or partially-sighted guide, one is put to the test of carrying out everyday activities without the aid of vision. From trying to navigate a market stall to paying for a beer to “viewing” sculptures in an art museum, the tour takes visitors to a world where only their senses of smell, touch, taste and balance can help them.

Enveloped in blackness, one can’t help but feel a tad panicked at first; hands groping at nothing, eyes blinking but unseeing, a whole fragment of everyday perception suddenly gone.

Deep in the dark, it is these senses which grow attuned throughout the tour, tested in a way they typically aren’t for the sighted.   Perhaps then, the only real way to capture the thrill of the experience is first-hand; in fact, the guide warns against giving away too many details to the public to preserve the feeling of surprise for other visitors.  The Invisible Exhibition is after all an exposition meant to surprise visitors, to startle them with the unknown and to test the very extent of their sensory perception.

And for those who are intrigued by the concept but want their experience to extend beyond a tour, the Invisible Exhibition also offers invisible team-building, wine tasting and massages. For an occasion that is both humbling and exhilarating, these alternatives provide a fascinating twist on a casual experience.

Courtesy of Prague-Stay.com

Deep in the darkness, senses become attuned. Courtesy of Prague-Stay.com

 

The Invisible Exhibition

Novoměstská radnice

Karlovo namesti 1/23

120 00 Praha 2

T: +420 777 787 064

http://neviditelna.cz/en/

 

Mon-Fri: 12pm – 8pm

Public holidays, Sat-Sun: 10am – 8pm

 

Tickets are 180 koruna for adults with discounts for students. In addition to tours in Czech, guides can also speak in English, German, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese for an extra 100 koruna per group.
Julia Joswick is in the NYU CAS Class of 2016. Her hometown is Flemington, New Jersey. 

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Categories: Spring 2014 Issue Number 2, Travel

Author:The Prague Wandering

The Prague Wandering is an NYU based study abroad webzine- the only one of its kind. It focuses on issues in contemporary Czech culture and the city of Prague, exploring beyond the study abroad bubble.

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