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MCA Denver's New Glasses Allow Colorblind Visitors To See The Full Picture

The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver now offers visitors who are colorblind a way to see the whole picture. Through a partnership with the EnChroma Color Accessibility Program, the museum has four pairs of EnChroma glasses, which allow those with the deficiency to see colors more distinctly.

Nick Silici, the museum's installation manager, helped test the glasses out.

"It was like going from analog to digital," Silici said. "So, I'm red-green colorblind and the reds and greens were there. They weren't muddy. They were vibrant. Everything worked."

For Silici, who is also an artist, seeing colors has always been a challenge, but not one he knew about until he was in his mid-20s.

"I was in a friend's (art) studio, and he was making these paintings of colorblind tests," he said. The tests use multiple colored circles with numbers in them.

"And I couldn't see the number," Silici said.

He was a little trepidatious about trying out the glasses, wondering if it would change him as an artist.

"I never painted in red or green because I never was satisfied with the colors that were being produced," Silici said. "And I feel like this is a game changer. I want to go back and look at the work that I've done in the past. I wanted to leave the museum and go to my studio and work on stuff."

Museum membership and community partnerships manager Bradley Ingles, who also is colorblind, says he hopes the glasses are a game changer for patrons who may not have come to the museum before.

"Color blindness can range from annoyance to an actual accessibility issue," he said. "So having this as an accessible way for people to come in and use the glasses to see the world in a new light is incredible."

Ingles said putting on the glasses gave him an entirely new insight into the works that the museum was showcasing.

During one of MCA Denver's educational events, a lecturer was talking about the significance of a pink line in a painting.

"And I couldn't see the line," Ingles said. "So I was really excited to get these glasses so I could see the art the way the artist intended."

Credit MCA Denver
MCA Denver

The EnChroma glasses use special lenses that remove wavelengths of light where the red and green cones in the eyes have an overlap, causing difficulty in determining colors.

"When you say you're colorblind, people always think you see the world in black and white," Ingles said. "A lot of the time it's more shades on shades. It's hard to decipher — what's red, what's green."

The partnership got its start when a museum staff member visited the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in New Mexico, where the glasses were already in use. According to museum officials, MCA Denver is one of the first museums in Colorado to use the glasses.

"We are thrilled to be participating in the EnChroma Color Accessibility Program to offer our color blind visitors the opportunity to experience our museum and the art we have on view in clear and vibrant color with these glasses," said Nora Burnett Abrams, the museum's Mark G. Falcone director, in a news release.

Color blindness affects more than 350 million people worldwide, about one in 12 men and one in 200 women.

Stacy was KUNC's arts and culture reporter from 2015 to 2021.
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