Media Release

14 September 2015

The art collection of Catherine the Great has been gilded by modern technology at The National Gallery of Victoria, with the Deaf and hearing impaired now able to fully experience some of the world’s greatest artworks.

Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great will be supported by Conexu’s OpenAccess Tours app for smart devices, giving users access to a variety of Auslan videos and captions for each artwork.

Conexu Chief Strategy Officer Rachel McKay said that making commentary accessible to the Deaf and hearing impaired gave their appreciation of the artworks an extra dimension.

“For the one in six Australians affected by hearing loss, it can be difficult to follow an audio tour or guided commentary,” Ms McKay said. “While they can still view and enjoy the artwork, they haven’t had immediate access to extra information about it.

“Anecdotally we know that people who are hard of hearing can feel distanced and even alienated from major events like these.

“The OpenAccess Tours app lets people with different communication needs easily and discreetly enjoy these experiences with their family and friends.

“We’ve had a very positive response so far – the app has already been downloaded more than 5000 times and the feedback has been great.”

National Gallery of Victoria Director Tony Ellwood said he hoped Masterpieces from the Hermitage struck a chord for those with disabilities.

“We are delighted that we had the opportunity to bring one of the world’s most important collections to Australian audiences,” Mr Ellwood said.

“The exhibition is a rare chance to be immersed in the world of Catherine the Great and her magnificent collection of art.

“We believe that as many Australians as possible should have the opportunity to see and appreciate this collection. We’re delighted to work with Conexu to help bring the arts to those who are hearing impaired.”

The free Conexu OpenAccess Tours app is available for all smart devices and has been recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Masterpieces from the Hermitage: The Legacy of Catherine the Great is in Melbourne until 8 November 2015. It highlights the innovation and vision of Catherine the Great, whose passion for education, the arts and culture heralded a period of enlightenment in Russia.

Tickets are available at and the OpenAccess Tours app can be downloaded free.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Magoffin - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 07 3815 7618

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