UNSW Art & Design Master of Curating and Cultural Leadership students have been working with UNSW Galleries to explore innovative ways of engaging visitors in the Shelter Union exhibition currently showing as part of the Living Here Now season. 

Working in groups, students were challenged to think of a way to enable gallery visitors to critically explore and connect with the work on display in Shelter Union. The students pitched their ideas and based on their originality, design simplicity, and audience consideration, UNSW Galleries staff and academics chose one project to be implemented. 

The 'winning' idea is a website designed by Tonje Andersen and Emma Fowler that aggregates additional insights and rich media for select works in the exhibition. The website is accessible in situ, and connected to specific works, with in-gallery QR (Quick Response) codes. 

The digital platform investigates aspects of each work through social, economic, political and environmental frameworks that relate to Shelter Union’s curatorial premise. By developing the portal on Tumblr, and linking to external webpages and material, the site gives the gallery visitor access to a range of written and video material, and connects with existing Tumblr audiences online. It's a simple solution that emphasises the interactivity, democratisation, and cultural exchange that lies at the heart of Shelter Union

For the students, having the opportunity to test their ideas on a professionally curated exhibition provides them with real world experience in audience engagement. For UNSW Galleries, the design solution provides a framework to test more virtual extensions of their exhibitions, and collect a rich archive of popular and academic discourse around each exhibition.  .

Shelter Union is on at UNSW Galleries until 15 August and features new projects by Artéria (Portugal), Coconut Collective, Teddy Cruz (USA), Richard Goodwin, The Lot, Studiobird, Urban-Think Tank (Venezuela) and Jesper Wachtmeister (Sweden), in addition to a major photographic project presented in association with The Big Issue.