Sensing Culture Touring Exhibition - Portsmouth City Council’s Arthur Conan Doyle Collection

Project Details


How do you translate a primarily visual museum collection into something meaningful for those who are unable to see? The Arthur Conan Doyle Collection, The University of Portsmouth and the RNIB explore contemporary technologies to create educational tools that increase museum accessibility for visitors who are blind or partially sighted. The project will focus on the challenges of bringing an engaging and authentic experience that can represent conceptual information in primarily non-visual ways. Areas of exploration include 3D printing, audio description technology, thermoception and digital dissemination.

Layperson's description

For people with visual impairments, it is sometime impossible (or at least extremely difficult) to engage with photographic material. Typically, these are represented as either audio descriptions or tactile photography, where the images are rendered into 'almost flat' sculptures for interaction via the finger tips. This however loses some of the detail of the image and may fail to capture the drama of an image.

Key findings

This project focussed not on the technology (although that was extensively employed) but on the information that an image should portray and how that could be remapped to an alternative (non-visual) mode. For example, the death of Sherlock Holmes, at the Reichenbach Falls was re-mapped as a battle not between two men, but as the moment before the plunge into the ice depths below. Thus, the image was re-sculpted in temperature as well as its spatial form. Digital Sculpting was used to create a 3D version of the image, that was then printed and cast in various materials to represent the hard surfaces, verses the soft water. Each cast element incorporated technologies to adjust its temperature, so that figures of Sherlock and Moriarty were heated, whilst the rock and waterfall were cooled to create the tension between hot bodies and the icy death awaiting them. Cooled air blew up 'the picture' from below, further indicating the inevitable drop to the bottom. Thus, the whole 'picture' could be experienced in temperature (hot/cold), texture (hard/soft), and spatially (sculpted form), as well as visually (high contrast grey scale for users who had some visual function).
Effective start/end date4/01/1618/04/18


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.