4 Kids: The Invisible Exhibit

Experience the world of darkness

Eva Howlings

Written by Eva Howlings
Published on 18.05.2011 17:21 (updated on 18.05.2011)

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This exhibit was developed to raise awareness about living with blindness. During the first part of the exhibit, your group is assigned a blind person as a guide. They lead you into various environments; all different, but all pitch-black. Using your hands and walking carefully, you feel your way through the exhibit and try to identify objects as you go. It takes about an hour before you see daylight again, but then your eyes are truly open.

The second part of the exhibit is an educational room where you can try your hand at playing games while blindfolded and examine some of the gadgets that make life easier for the blind.

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Novoměstská radnice in Karlovo náměstí.

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90 minutes. We stayed longer than that because my girl got a real kick out of playing the games afterward.

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You are asked to leave your watch and mobile phone in a locker. No pictures are allowed in the exhibit. The person who guides you through is blind, and you get most out of the experience if you are able to trust this stranger, who will guide you through complete darkness. There is a quite a bit of fumbling as they try to direct your hands or grab onto you to lead you around. If you are uncomfortable being touched by strangers (in a dark room, no less) you might want to ask for a “hands free” version of the tour before going in. That said, even the hands of a stranger are comforting when you´re in the darkest space you´ve ever been.

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It´s possible to ask for tours English or another foreign language. I don´t believe the language is necessary for the tour to be good. There´s a brief lecture on the history of the expo in the beginning, which I will go over in the “In Short” section below, but otherwise the exhibit works well as a non-verbal experience.

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Indoor.

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There´s no water apart from the bathroom tap, but it´s the deep kind so you can easily fill a bottle.

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There´s no food here, but Mama Café is just across the street and there´s also an ice cream window where you can reward your child for their bravery and open-mindedness. Eat it with your eyes closed!

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You can park at Nový Smíchov (free up to 3 hours) and take the tram.

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10:00 – 19:00 every day of the week. The size of each group is a maximum of eight, so pre-book on the site and bring your reservation number,  http://neviditelna.cz/en/what-is-it/booking. Tours are pre-booked in 15 minute intervals.

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The organizers don´t recommend the show for children under 8. I took my 5 year-old and she was fine, but she´s a very brave little girl. With plenty of coaxing and reassuring, I think 6 and over would be ok. You know your own child best – if they scare easily then ask to do a micro-version of the tour, with just one or two rooms so you can beat a retreat before you´re lost in the labyrinth. Ask to be allowed to go out and back in – kids sometimes just need to try something a few times and know they can exit if they want to. I know what works for my own child, in terms of making her feel safe – reassuring voice, going slow, holding hands. I focused on appealing to her sense of wonder and complimented her on recognizing the objects we felt, rather than letting her start to worry about how long we were “stuck” in there. But if your child (or you, for that matter) is prone to panic attacks I´d give the show a miss, no matter what your age.

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If you take your time and feel your way carefully, I don´t think you´ll get hurt. Some risks might be: fingers getting squeezed in cabinet doors or walking into furniture, or maybe dropping things onto your feet. Check in verbally with each other and know your child´s whereabouts. During the tour there are times when you want to feel the texture of the floor – guests are instructed to squat rather than bend over, to prevent banging their heads. Note: At the end of the tour you are seated in a dark “café” and your blind guide hands you a steaming hot beverage of your choice. So be careful!

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There is one little bathroom. When we were there the bulb was out – I´m not sure if that was intentional, but we were pros at managing in the dark by that time.

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Kids under 7 are free.
Weekend prices: Adult: 200, Student & Senior: 170, Family ticket: 500
Weekday prices: Adult: 180, Student & Senior: 150, Family ticket: 450

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The exhibit is worth the entrance fee. It´s well designed and you can´t put a price tag on building sensitivity towards people who are differently-abled – especially in children. The appreciation you have for your own vision when it´s over is also invaluable.

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Great for Dads. Being plunged into darkness makes us all feel vulnerable – having a strong hand to hold on to builds trust and appreciation.

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Not a good idea, though of course many blind people bring guide dogs.

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This exhibit is more like an activity – there is a specific sequence and timing to it. One of the goals is to show how you can live a relatively normal life without sight. It´s good to teach kids consideration for people who are differently-abled, but it´s also valuable to show them that apart from a few key things, we are not so different after all. When we were there, many of the other guests were partially or completely blind, as were the guides. That´s good – because children typically see one differently-abled person at a time, and they naturally arouse curiosity. Being surrounded by blind people helped normalize it, which is important.

We really enjoyed the “resource” room after the tour. The wall displays include information about famous blind musicians. There´s a Braille typewriter you can demo, and a timepiece that talks. The games and puzzles were the best, though. We wore blindfolds and tried our hand at playing specially designed games like chutes and ladders. The pieces were different shapes (as opposed to different colors) and each field had texture, so you could feel which way to go. The die has raised bumps. Apart from my daughter´s shameless attempts at cheating, it was like any other game.

Related: other venues in Prague that give you the experience of being blind include the restaurant Pod křídlem noci, where blind waiters serve patrons in complete darkness, and Kavárna Potmě, a similarly-themed cafe at Ovocný trh that will be open from June 6 – 22 this year.
http://www.podkridlemnoci.cz
http://svetluska.centrum.cz/clanek.phtml?id=391

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Fun activities in Prague for the kids.

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