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Garage Museum of Contemporary Art presents Experiencing the Museum. Diversity and Inclusion—an online platform for the collection and analysis of inclusive practices.

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art’s Inclusive Programs department presents an online platform that brings together the experience of Russian and international institutions and experts in the field of inclusion.

This has been made possible with the support of The Valuable 500 PJSC VimpelCom (Beeline brand)—a partner company that contributes to the global movement toward inclusion and has been systematically producing digital technologies for people with disabilities since 2007.

Garage proposes to understand inclusion as a set of practices aimed at maintaining diversity in society, ensuring physical and information accessibility, and overcoming exclusion and discrimination. That is why the platform’s key tasks include archiving the already implemented inclusive programs and representing various inclusive approaches. The analysis and systematization of a broad spectrum of inclusive practices will allow the tracing of general trends in the field of inclusion in the cultural environment.

The platform accumulates academic papers and popular science articles, interviews, reviews of inclusive events, and much more. The materials are addressed to both professionals and those just getting introduced to diversity and inclusion topics. The platform’s website features two blocks, theoretical and practical. The theoretical block will help users acquire a deeper understanding of diversity and inclusion; the practical block brings together specific cases of inclusive practices and solutions.

Museums and other cultural institutions have pioneered the principles of inclusion and diversity in their work and the broadcasting thereof to visitors. Whereas in the beginning, this movement centered in Moscow and St. Petersburg, it has become increasingly possible recently to encounter not only the cultural institutions’ systematic activity with various communities but also vacancies for such specialists in the regions.

Elena Vozmishcheva, Inclusive Programs curator at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center: “It is currently impossible to get a university degree in this field in Russia, however, because such programs simply do not exist. That is why Garage Museum of Contemporary Art’s latest project seems not just timely to me but also genuinely necessary for everyone who plans to enter the field of cultural inclusion or improve their competence by relying on authoritative academic knowledge and the best practices. This includes cultural studies students, art historians, future and current art managers, curators, strategic development managers, as well as employees of non-profit organizations who initiate a dialogue with cultural institutions and want to speak the same language with them.

The online platform designed by Garage’s Inclusive Programs department helps organize knowledge. It makes information more accessible to a broad and professional audience, eliminating the need to collect the necessary information bit by bit from different sources. Equally important is the fact that having studied the principles of Garage’s work with different audiences, other institutions can “synchronize their watches”—that is, compare their own approach to the formation and implementation of an inclusive program with the one implemented at Garage.”

The principles of inclusion are inherent in the very operation of the online platform. To replenish it, Garage will be inviting guest experts in the field of diversity and inclusion to share their experience in the development of inclusive practices in cultural institutions.

Since its launch in 2015, Garage’s Inclusive Programs department has worked closely with the professional community. Less than a month after the launch, in September 2015, the Museum held the inaugural Experiencing the Museum training program, dedicated to the work of cultural institutions with deaf and hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, and deafblind visitors. The training program later grew into the annual international conference Experiencing the Museum. Based on the experience of the Inclusive Programs staff, as well as that of other Russian and international experts, Garage prepared compilations of materials entitled Experiencing the Museum, covering the work with people with disabilities. Within the framework of the professional program, it was decided that a platform would be created to accumulate the experience of different museums and other cultural and educational institutions while also acting as a discussion platform.

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