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Designing Inclusive Cultural Experiences: Preserving the Past, Exploring the Future

  • Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Books Library 40 West 20th Street New York, NY, 10011 United States (map)


Designing Inclusive Cultural Experiences: Preserving the Past, Exploring the Future

Presented by the Institute for Digital Archeology

Tuesday, September 20, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM, Andrew Heiskell Braille & Talking Book Library, 40 West 20th St | New York, NY 10011


This event marks the opening of our new tactile exhibition “the architecture of identity, celebrating history and a shared vision for peace

Centered around Palmyra’s ancient triumphal arch, this exhibition represents the launch of a bigger project in collaboration with the UK’s Royal National Institute for the Blind, the USA’s National Federation of the Blind, and the New York public Library to develop and deploy 3D printing technology to help to make architectural cultural heritage — something which is traditionally very hard for those with sight difficulties to experience — more accessible. We aim, also, to draw attention to the extent to which emerging technologies have the power to transform the museum and gallery experience into one which is more welcoming, inclusive, and inspiring for those who cannot see.

A total of seven tactile exhibits complete with braille, large print, and audio exhibition guide will explore the key architectural and decorative features of this ancient structure. The exhibition will travel across the United States in parallel with a sister exhibition in the United Kingdom.


6:00 PM: Refreshments

6:20 PM: Opening Remarks

6:30 PM: Panel Discussion

8:00 PM: Exhibit Exploration

Open to the Public Wednesday September 21st to Tuesday October 11th

- Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10am - 5pm

- Tuesday and Thursday 12noon - 7pm


Chancey Fleet is the Assistive Technology Coordinator at NYPL's Andrew Heiskell Braille & Talking Book Library.  This branch, located in Flatiron and serving patrons of all abilities, provides one-on-one Information literacy coaching and community workshops that educate assistive technology users, as well as developers and designers, about what's possible with accessible technology. From braille and talking books to programs that support tech novices, power users, creators and lifelong learners,  to connect with a library of possibilities. 

Alexy Karenowska is a magnetician with a research group based in the University of Oxford, UK's Department of Physics, and is also Fellow by Special Election of Magdalen College Oxford. A trained engineer as well as a physicist, Karenowska directs the IDA's technical team. She has a particular interest in the application of 3D printing and machining technologies to the restoration or replication of damaged or destroyed archaeological structures and artefacts, and the development of new technologies for the characterization and the development of new technologies for the characterization, preservation and appreciation of heritage objects. 


Rebecca McGinnis is the Senior Managing Educator for Accessibility at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She and her colleagues are internationally recognized for their innovative programs for people with disabilities. In 2013 she developed and co-taught Museums, Accessibility, and Technology, a semester-long course in the MFA in Design + Technology program at Parsons the New School for Design, with Don Undeen, then manager of The Met’s MediaLab and professor Katherine Moriwaki from Parsons. She isan adjunct lecturer in the Museum Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University, where she teaches Accessibility in the Museum. In 2014 the Met received the American Foundation for the Blind’s Access Award. In 2011 Rebecca received the LEAD Award for Excellence in Accessibility Leadership and the American Council of the Blind Achievement Award in Audio Description for Museums. Her publications include “Islands of Stimulation: Perspectives on the Museum Experience, Present and Future” in The Multisensory Museum: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Touch, Sound, Smell, Memory, and Space, ed. Nina Levent and Alvaro Pascual Leone, Rowman & Littlefield, 2014. She has MAs in Art History and Museum Studies and pursues a PhD in Cognitive Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. 

Steve Landau founded Touch Graphics in 1998. The company has received numerous federal RD grants, and produces interactive tactile signs, exhibits, and learning aids, based on the outcomes of government-funded research.  These materials communicate spatial concepts through touch, vision and hearing. Recent projects include a network of 40 universal talking tactile maps for Google's NYC headquarters; interactive talking sculptures of a seahorse and penguin for Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, tactile painting panels for the National Gallery of Art, and a touch-responsive campus model for Overbrook School for the Blind. Steve studied art at Oberlin and design at Harvard.

Emilie Louise Gossiaux is an artist born and raised in New Orleans, and currently living in New York City. She began her undergraduate studies in the arts at the Cooper Union in 2007. Just before her Senior year, in 2010 she lost her vision due to a traumatic accident. After regaining her strength and independence, Gossiaux returned to the Cooper Union in 2013, and graduated with a BFA in 2014, with an award of excellence in sculpture. Upon graduating, Gossiaux began her year-long internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with the Media Lab, and Access/Community programs. After completing her internship, she was hired as a Contractual Museum Educator, and is currently teaching blind and visually impaired visitors in the Seeing Through Drawing class, and has led several gallery talks for general audiences in Adult programs, exploring cross-sensory methods for experiencing art. As a practicing artist, Gossiaux has shown her sculptures and paintings in several art galleries and institutions around the world, including Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London, Storefront Lab in San Francisco, Cantor Fine Arts Gallery in Los Angeles, 5 Press Gallery in New Orleans, Recess Gallery in New York City, and the Smithsonian Institute of Art in Washington D.C. In 2013, Gossiaux won an award of excellence from the VSA IN/FINITE EARTH Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and in 2014, she graduated from the Cooper Union with an Elliot Lash Memorial Prize for excellence in sculpture.

Earlier Event: September 19
Triumphal Arch in New York City
Later Event: September 22
Bridge Over Troubled Water