Art exhibit lets vision-impaired visitors touch masterpieces at Madrid museum

ALISON STEWART: A couple of million people visit the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain, each year to see the world-famous works of art, such as "The Annunciation," "The Garden of Earthly Delights," and "Las Meninas."

Now, for the first time, the museum is attracting a set of patrons who are able to experience the artwork in a different way: By touching it.

Fifty-six-year-old Jose Pedro Gonzalez lost his sight at age 14.

Today, he is at the Prado Museum running his hands along El Grego's "Nobleman." It's one of six reproduced paintings in the exhibition called "Touching the Prado."

LA ONCE SPOKESPERSON, JOSE PEDRO GONZALEZ: Suddenly, I saw the ruffs, they go all the way up to his ears. I saw them. And what else did I notice? Well, how the painting is done. Look, this has a different texture than this.

ALISON STEWART: Gonzalez represents La Once, Spain's National Association for the Blind. It's one of the organizations that helped bring this exhibition to the museum. 

JOSE PEDRO GONZALEZ: I have never been given the chance to touch a painting in a museum, not even in a smaller version of it. So for me, this is a unique experience."

ALISON STEWART: The tactile copies are the result of a special technique called Didu, developed in Spain by Durero Studios. Didu was first used in a 2010 photo exhibition by a journalist who had lost most of his sight due to illness. The process uses special inks and ultraviolet light to raise parts of the images, allowing the works to be visualized.

The Prado paid a little more than $6,000 for this "Mona Lisa," which took 20 days to recreate. The reproductions include works by Goya and Correggio.

Black cardboard glasses are provided so those who can see are able to experience the exhibit as the visually impaired do.

"Touching the Prado" runs through the end of June.