photo-icon Featuring 'A break away!' by Tom Roberts, AGSA; photo: Saul Steed.

Art for all: AGSA launches Accessible Guides

Cultural Heart Our Wellbeing

Update as at Tuesday 26 May 2020:

Following updated guidelines from the South Australian Government, the Art Gallery of South Australia today announced a revised reopening date of Friday 5 June, following its temporary closure due to COVID-19 restrictions. AGSA will open adhering to the physical distancing, capacity limits and increased hygiene measures as outlined by the Government’s phased roadmap to recovery.

AGSA continues to offer experiences of its collection, exhibitions, and key programs online through podcasts, videos and interactive encounters, events and activities. Visitors are encouraged to monitor AGSA’s social media channels and website for updates and details of the Gallery’s phased reopening approach.

As many of us have experienced over the past weeks, art in all its forms can be a great source of solace in uncertain times: lifting our spirits and reminding us of the wonder in the world. Globally, artists and art institutions have been helping us keep connected to art while we are isolating, with all sorts of creative online initiatives. Among those is Adelaide’s own Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) - which has enhanced its digital experience offering and just launched new Accessible Guides to make a selection of artworks in its collection accessible to everyone, anywhere, anytime. 

Building on AGSA’s ever-growing Access Programs, which include Australian Sign Language (Auslan)-interpreted lunchtime talks, tours and openings, and interactive sessions for students from the South Australian School for the Vision Impaired, the new Guides give Deaf, hard of hearing, blind and vision-impaired audiences the opportunity to watch Auslan videos, read transcripts and listen to audio-descriptions of works of art.

AGSA accessible guides photo saul steed credit artwork
photo-icon Saul Steed

putting accessible guides to work. Image: featuring A break away! ​by Tom Roberts, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.

While originally designed for in-Gallery use, the new Accessible Guides are also available online for audiences to access from home.

The Guides have launched with commentaries on thirteen works of arts on display in the Elder Wing of Australian Art – each available in three formats: Self-Guided Audio, Audio Described and Auslan videos presented by members of South Australian’s Deaf community. The plan is to build on the number of commentaries that can be accessed, over time.

AGSA elder wing Installation view photo saul steed
photo-icon Saul Steed

Art Gallery of south  australia's Elder WinG Installation View

“Our initial goal was to create a social experience so that a range of diverse families and friends could enjoy visiting the Gallery together, to allow people who are Deaf, hard of hearing, blind or vision impaired to have the same access to information."
Karina Morgan, Education Support Officer and Auslan interpreter at AGSA

“The Guides also offer a way for remote communities, or people who may not be able to visit in person, to connect with us. Now, with the Gallery’s closure, the Guides give everyone the opportunity to continue to engage with our collection in a meaningful way.”

Since temporarily closing its doors to the public in late March, AGSA’s staff have been busy creating all sorts of digital experiences so art lovers locally and around the world can keep engaging with its collection, exhibitions and make their own art! There are now extensive resources and online workshops for educators, activities for children of all ages, online events, curators’ tours and podcasts online.

Biennial installation stelarc photo saul steed
photo-icon Saul Steed

Stelarc with his work Reclining Stickman, 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres; photo: Saul Steed.

Each week, via its website and social media, AGSA will release new video episodes, podcasts, interviews with artists, and curator talks and virtual tours of the 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres. Audiences can also remotely operate and live-stream Stelarc’s Reclining Stickman as part of Monster Theatres, an artwork that is fully operational during AGSA’s temporary closure.

"The Gallery is physically closed yet digitally open. People look to artists and cultural institutions for a sense of community, learning, wonder and to find solace. AGSA remains deeply committed to connecting people through art. Our free and newly enhanced digital experiences have been created for audiences of all ages to meaningfully connect with art, no matter where they are in the world."
Rhana Devenport ONZM, AGSA Director

Visit AGSA on Facebook to keep updated on when they will reopen and new initiatives on offer.

AGSA’s new Accessible Guides were made possible with support from the South Australian Government through the Richard Llewellyn Deaf and Disability Arts program.

Article by

Skye Murtagh

Skye Murtagh

Skye is passionate about sharing stories from all walks of life. When she's not busy weaving beautiful words together, she's singing a line or two from her favourite song.