Reinventing the Museum Experience

  • PARTNER: Metropolitan Museum of Art

    GOAL: Explore ways new technologies can make the museum experience engaging and accessible for all

    APPROACH: Students from Parsons’ School of Art, Media, and Technology spent a semester with people with disabilities in order to gain a deeper understanding of their needs and desires in the context of a museum setting. Working closely together and in collaboration with museum education specialists and professionals in the field of access technology, the team designed new solutions to meet the needs of people with disabilites. The concepts created were displayed in a public presentation at the inaugural Met + Parsons Access Expo.

    OUTCOME: Committed to making its priceless collections accessible to visitors with disabilities, New York’s world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art teamed up with Parsons students to develop new technologies in the form of apps and objects to make the museum experience immersive and engaging for all.

    Involving extensive research, trial-and-error prototyping, and testing, the students' efforts included:

    • Redesigning the website to be an immersive experience that replicates attending the museum in person
    • Detailed mapping on the museum app, allowing visitors with mobility issues to plan their route in advance and accommodating visitors with light and noise sensitivities
    • Creating objects appealing to several senses, including touch, that allow people with visual impairments to experience works of painting, photography, and other two-dimensional visual art
    • Developing devices that track the eye movements of people with cognitive disabilities, such as autism, as they view works of art. This helps the museum understand their experience and provides valuable data for use in making changes that foster participation.

    The hands-on demonstrations of these concepts offered an exciting glimpse into the future of museum accessibility and clearly demonstrated the positive impact designers can have when they seek authentic solutions to social and health issues facing our society.

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