Innovative Practice 2018 on Accessibility

The fully accessible art museum

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), located in Midtown Manhattan in New York, recognizes the diversity of the public’s abilities and needs, and offers a variety of programmes and services to ensure the accessibility of the museum and its collection. Approximately 60,000 people with disabilities made use of these programmes and services from 2014 to 2016.

“Sharing and learning from each other has been a key to change making and teamworking. Thanks to “Meet me at MoMA”, museums have increased people´s quality of life.”

Halldora ArnadottirPhD art historian.
About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:The fully accessible art museum
Organisation:The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
Country
of Implementation
USA

FACTS & FIGURES

  • MoMA’s Community and Access Programs serve over 18,000 individuals yearly. This number does not include individuals with disabilities who visit the museum every day using the audio description services, Braille materials, and other accessible features.

PROBLEMS TARGETED

Many museums provide access into the building, but often the programming and displays are not accessible to individuals who have cognitive or sensory disabilities. Further, a crowded museum is often intimidating or impossible to navigate for these individuals.

SOLUTION, INNOVATION, AND IMPACT

MoMA is accessible to individuals using wheelchairs, who are deaf or hard of hearing, and who are blind. Notably, its access programmes are inclusive to the visually impaired by offering tours that provide the opportunity to touch and experience the art while asking questions and receiving audio descriptions of each work.
MoMA also provides programmes for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and their family members or care partners, as well as to visitors with developmental disabilities and their family members. The museum creates time and space for more quiet, focused viewing of exhibits while providing educators who understand the visitors’ special needs and can provide answers and descriptions that make the art meaningful. MoMA’s newest Community Program is Prime Time, aimed at deepening engagement between the museum and older adults.
MoMA’s Community and Access Programs have served approximately 60,000 individuals over the past three years through monthly programming.

OUTLOOK, TRANSFERABILITY AND FUNDING

MoMA educators visit institutions around the world to train museum professionals, caregivers, teachers, and health care providers on the museum’s pioneering work with the Alzheimer’s population. It also hosts trainings at the museum with attendees e.g. in Oslo and Tokyo. MoMA’s practices can be replicated by creating on-line and in-person trainings conducted by museum staff. In addition, a guide on best practices can be created to assist other museums with programming. These trainings and guidance tools can be presented at conferences and made available via web-based trainings.
MoMA’s institutional fundraising revenue comes from individual, corporate, and foundation supporters, and thus funding for Access Programs comes from these same sources.
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FACTSHEET

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