QUT Design Team Wins Gold for Bringing Visual Art to Everyone

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QUT’s cutting-edge art accessibility project, which transformed traditional paintings into 3D models and soundscapes, won gold at the IAUD International Design Awards.

QUT Design Lab and QUT Art Museum jointly received the prestigious Gold Award in the Inclusive Culture category, for their 2019 exhibition Vis-ability: Artworks from the QUT Art Collection at the QUT Art Museum, winning the award alongside design giants such as Panasonic and Mitsubishi.

The project’s research lead, QUT Associate Professor Janice Rieger, said QUT was the only Australian recipient at the awards ceremony, held in Tokyo over the weekend.

“It’s recognition that QUT creates inclusive design for people of all abilities. What’s particularly significant is that we won this award in the category of inclusive culture: it shows that at QUT, we let’s create these cultures of inclusion,” Professor Rieger said.

Dr Rieger said the Vis-ability exhibit was co-designed with people with disabilities, setting a benchmark for inclusive design and establishing QUT as an international model, driving changes in exhibit practices across the world. world.

“A universal design practice examines all aspects of the exhibition: from creating inclusive materials on the website to inclusive artwork and tours. From the moment someone thinks about coming to the QUT Art Museum, it means they should be considered, whether they are neurodiverse, visually impaired, hearing impaired or have limited mobility,” Prof Rieger said.

She said a key feature was the exhibition’s workshop with a panel including people with disabilities.

QUT Design Lab staff, QUT Art Museum staff, international visiting scholars from Belgium and Canada, local artists and access advisors come together to co-design inclusive cultures at QUT for the exhibition Vis- ability.

“We 3D printed a tactile rendition of what one of Catherine Parker’s acrylic paintings would look like so people could ‘touch’ the painting. We also created a soundscape of the work with a blind French DJ. We have also co-designed audio descriptions of selected works with blind people,” she said.

“So when you walked into the exhibit, you could see the painting, you could touch the painting, and you could hear the painting. Even people who consider themselves able-bodied appreciated this.

Professor Rieger said the exhibition helped broaden the public’s perception of ‘visual’ art and created lasting change at QUT and in galleries around the world.

“Since Vis-ability in 2019, every QUT exhibit includes audio descriptions. We also created touch tours and touch pathways,” she said.

“This little show has proven to be award-winning nationally and internationally and now QUT is known in the industry for creating inclusive exhibits. I have seen remarkable changes within the industry. It’s quite revolutionary what he’s done,” she said.

The International Association for Universal Design (IAUD) promotes the design of spaces that are accessible to everyone, regardless of age, size, ability or disability.

Professor Rieger is from the School of Architecture and Built Environment at QUT with the Faculty of Engineering.

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