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An Art Museum Is Giving Color Vision to the Color Blind

At the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, you can enhance your experience of art with color blindness-correcting glasses.
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Matthew Renton is colorblind, but he works at a museum and is surrounded by art. As director of communications at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, he tells The Creators Project, “I’ve got a blue and purple issue where I can’t distinguish them clearly. Green and brown sometimes too.” But when he puts on a pair of special EnChroma color blindness-correcting glasses, currently available at the reception desk of the museum, it alters the colors and makes them more vivid: “Everything’s got an extra pop to it,” he explains. In the short documentary above, created for Valspar and EnChroma's #ColorForAll campaign, you can watch colorblind individuals don a pair of the glasses and experience a new chromatic spectrum for the first time.


MCA Chicago is the first institution to share these "optical assistive devices" with their visitors. In order to create their lenses, the EnChroma team constructed a computer model to examine what happens to color perception when filters are placed in front of the visual system. Using linear programming, they figured out an algorithm that identifies which filters provide the most optimal solutions to visual deficiencies. They then paired the technology with the science of color blindness to create a lens with “multi-notch filters,” or ‘cutouts’ in the visible spectrum that adjust for red-green color blindness.

This collaboration is only small part of the museum’s big-picture goals to expand its accessibility. For Renton, the choice to offer Enchroma glasses was an easy one because it had the potential to enrich any museumgoers' visit: “Any tool we can offer our visitors to enhance or improve their experience is a good thing.” His recommendation for EnChroma wearers is that they check out the Martin Creed painting in Puck’s Cafe, a restaurant in the museum, which is "just stunning."


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