The Gateway Project
The Rise of the Designer Diplomat
Colleen Connolly,Fulbright Scholar
Abstract from 2021 SEGD Communication + Place
The Gateway Project is a Fulbright Arts Research project that advocates for greater access to multilingual exhibitions and resources for museum visitors. Its goal is to examine the bilingual museum design in Taiwan and present suggestions on how to implement multilingual systems in the United States. The first stage of this year-long research project in Taipei is to visit Taiwanese museums and meet with with museum staff and designers (talking in Chinese as much as possible). Taiwan’s exceptional bilingual design in public spaces could open up conversations with the international design community about the successes and challenges of designing for multilingual audiences. The Gateway Project is dedicated to humbly learning about Taiwanese languages and culture, and is especially interested in popular opinion on the Taiwanese government’s promise to become a bilingual (Chinese/English) nation by 2030.
A key point of this paper is examining how multilingual museum design is a tool for cultural diplomacy. After establishing a historical precedence for museums acting as non-state actors through public outreach and collaborations with other institutions, the National Palace Museum in Taiwan is used as an example of an institution that uses multilingual design to conduct cultural diplomacy. The examples of design diplomacy presented in this work are intended to introduce not only the growing importance of innovative multilingual design in museums, but also examine the role of museums in international relations.
As an American designer living in Taiwan and working towards fluency in Mandarin Chinese (after 8 years of study in America and mainland China), I hope to be a fresh perspective for Western designers who desire an authentic insight into East Asia’s
design industry. Through my Fulbright research, I hope to raise awareness about the importance of multilingual design in order to encourage my fellow designers to think critically about the future of accessibility in our public institutions.
Read more in the 2021 SEGD Communication + Place journal and other papers at https://segd.org/academic-design-research.
Communication + Place is the official research journal of the Experiential Graphic Design community. Published online, the journal features articles from both academics and professionals advancing the XGD profession through creative research, curriculum development, project reviews, and user-centric testing.