Immigration Museum asks visitors to maximize their senses for Open House Melbourne

For Open House Melbourne’s centrepiece program, Immigration Museum hosts tactile design installation. Visitors will experience the urban landscape from the perspective of those with low vision or blindness.

Urban Tactility - Photo: Tania Davidge

As part of Open House Melbourne this year, OoPLA architects have partnered with commercial property agents Cushman & Wakefield and Immigration Museum to present Urban Tactility - a site-specific public art installation. It highlights how public art makes a significant contribution to conversations around important urban issues such as social inclusion, social connectivity and the building of community.

Urban Tactility will use tactile indicators in a playful and exploratory way, connecting participants to the many sensory experiences the Immigration Museum offers, and to the ways people with blindness or low vision might experience the city. The project aims to connect people of differing abilities and cultures to this beautiful public space with its rich cultural heritage.

Rohini Kappadath, General Manager of Immigration Museum said, “Accessibility, inclusiveness and a welcoming atmosphere are central to Immigration Museum’s responsibility as a public museum, educational and cultural institution. We are committed to being a welcoming environment for people of all abilities, and we know that the Urban Tactility installation will foster empathy and understanding for all who participate. It’s also a great pleasure to be sharing the history and significance of the building in which we are housed via our partnership with Open House Melbourne.”

The installation will form the centrepiece of the broader Open House Melbourne program at Immigration Museum and will be accompanied by a series of public conversations, walking tours and other elements. These include a series of sensory city tours presented by Vision Australia that will allow guests to contemplate the sensory qualities of our city.

Immigration Museum is the perfect location for an Open House Melbourne Hub. Old Customs House, the building that houses the museum, is one of Melbourne’s most important 19th-century public buildings. In its day, it was arguably the epicentre of Melbourne, witnessing the complex history and development of Victoria’s settlement, trade, immigration, social attitudes and government. Throughout Open House Melbourne Weekend, Immigration Museum will be hosting thought-provoking tours of the history of Old Customs House.

Immigration Museum will host a display of events throughout July and August including Open House Melbourne's keynote program Urban Tactility. Urban Tactility is also supported by the City of Melbourne, Vision Australia, RMIT University and University of Melbourne.

Programming and events

Urban Tactility Installation
Monday 22 July - Sunday 11 August | 10am - 5pm
Immigration Museum, 400 Flinders St, Melbourne
Free (entry to exhibitions at additional cost)
More information

Urban Tactility Talk
Wednesday 24 July | 6 - 7.30pm
A discussion with OoPLA about the rationale behind Urban Tactility, and how codes and legislation such as the Equal Opportunity Act, Australian Standards and the Building Code of Australia take physical forms in the city.
More information

Open House Melbourne Weekend
Saturday 27 July and Sunday 28 July​ | 10am - 5pm
Old Customs House Tours, 11am, 1pm, 3pm daily. Join Immigration Museum staff to explore and discover the history of Old Customs House, including its inception, uses and the surprising stories of the people associated with the building.
More information

Open House Melbourne Free Family Activity
Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 July | 10am –5pm
Create your own mini museum inside the historic walls of Old Customs House. What would your museum be about? What would you put on display?

Sensory City Tours
Saturday 27 July and Sunday 28 July | 2 - 3pm
Along with the Urban Tactility Tours, Open House, OoPLA and Vision Australia are hosting a series of city tours which will contemplate the sensory qualities of our city.
More information

Urban Tactility Guided Tours
22 July, 29 July and 5 August | 12 - 2pm
Open House Weekend 27 and 28 July | 10am - 4pm
In these guided tours, leaders will take people through the installation blindfolded, encouraging people to use their senses to navigate the work. The tours will focus on what the exhibition feels, smells and sounds like, rather than what it looks like.

Rights to the City Talk
Wednesday 31 July | 6 - 7.30pm
Whose rights? Whose city? What role does design play in addressing urban inequality? A discussion about the unique and not so unique challenges Melbourne is facing in addressing urban inclusivity and rights to the city for all users.
More information

Sensory City Talk
Wednesday 7 August | 6 - 7.30pm
A discussion about the growing awareness of a multi-sensory approach to design in our cities.
More information

Immigration Museum

In 1998, the Immigration Museum opened in the beautifully restored Old Customs House. As the former administrative centre of Melbourne's immigration and customs, it is the perfect home for a museum that explores and celebrates the rich cultural diversity that makes this city and this state so exceptional.

Open House Melbourne

Back for its twelfth year, Open House Melbourne reveals the buildings and spaces that shape us and our city. With a new focus on accessibility and openness, this year's suite of programs and events has been designed to get people thinking about walking in each other’s shoes.

Visit for the full program of talks, exhibitions and events happening throughout July and August.

Media enquiries

Media Kit download (via Dropbox)

Thomas Holloway, Media & Communications Support Officer (prior to 18 July)
E: [email protected] | M: 0478 058 805

​Anna Quinn, Media & Communications Manager, Immigration Museum (from 18 July)
E: [email protected] | M: 0437 565 300

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