LMU Receives Grant to Enhance Museum Access for Blind Community

Engineering Student

Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) announces that the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum (ALLM) has received an Arts Access grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission. This grant will enable the museum to work with the LMU School of Engineering to create 3D artwork renderings of the Lincoln collection, providing a tactile experience for the blind and low-vision community.

LMU engineering students and museum staff collaborated to select and scan items. Using a scanner wand and turntable, the team captured all angles of various artifacts, including paintings, coins, mortars and swords. Notably, they scanned a life mask of Abraham Lincoln, allowing the blind community to feel Lincoln's face and experience his likeness through touch.

The "Art Belongs to Everyone" (A.B.E.) initiative is inspired by the TacTile Kits at the Art Institute of Chicago. A.B.E. kits will include 3D-rendered images of ALLM's artwork, along with audio and Braille resources. These kits aim to expand access to the museum's Civil War art collection.

Project Director Natalie Sweet is working with Dean Ryan Overton of the College of Engineering, whose students produce high-quality 3D renderings. “I am excited to share how we plan to bring everyone a little closer to experiencing the history of Abraham Lincoln. Access to these items is now available by request at the visitor’s desk, or for visiting classrooms, through the museum’s Program Coordinator,” said Sweet.

In the past five years, ALLM has established free resources for rural Title I schools, senior citizens, and the autism community. With support from the TAC, ALLM is enhancing access for the blind and low-vision communities while incorporating universal design principles that benefit all visitors.

The TN Specialty License Plate Program was created in the 1980s to provide a dedicated revenue source for arts and cultural activities across our state. 80% of TAC grants are funded by specialty license plates, which cost $35 annually.

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or email at admissions@lmunet.edu.

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