Making museums more inclusive

With more than forty museums in the Greater Boston area, our city is the perfect place to celebrate International Museum Day on Thursday, May 18. Collections and exhibitions across the region feature everything from art to science to history and beyond.

At HUBweek 2016, Harvard Art Museums hosted an event dedicated to considering ways of making art museums more inclusive and accessible. Designers, technologists, and museum innovators spoke at this event about how new approaches to looking, listening, and learning could inform museum design.

  • Carmen Papalia, an artist who identifies as a non-visual learner, shared some of his interactive art projects, including one in which he replaced his cane with a high school marching band.
  • Panelist Sara Hendren spoke about the work at her Adaptation + Ability Group, a research lab at Olin College working on creative technologies related to the body. She writes on her website Abler about the way art, technology, and built environments interact with human bodies, and will soon be publishing a book about disability and design.
  • Jim Olson told HUBweek audiences about his work at the Peabody Essex Museum in developing a collaborative program, Access App, focused on describing museum collections for blind and low-vision visitors.
  • And at Parsons School of Design in New York, a 2013 course partnership with the Metropolitan Museum of Art focused primarily on museum accessibility and design. Parsons assistant professor Katherine Moriwaki ran that program and at HUBweek she shared ideas from the course, which included mapping the physical museum by acoustic, flooring, and lighting; as well as website design experience for individuals with visual impairment. The Met’s Rebecca McGinnis highlighted the museum’s ongoing sensory experiments; use of a telepresence robot; and an exercise in seeing through the act of drawing.

In honor of International Museum Day the Harvard Art Museums will offer free admission on Thursday, May 18.

This is a guest contributed post written by Harvard University.

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