Museum Accessibility Research: Publications and Advisory Board

In 2008 the Art Beyond Sight Institute embarked on a series on Museum Accessibility Research and Development Projects. These projects are based on ongoing and expanding partnerships with large metro area art museums, and a growing number of smaller museums, university museums and historic sites. This multi-year series of initiatives includes audience research, development of accessibility materials for the field, development of research and evaluation tools pertaining to access programs, research and documentation of organizational change towards inclusion, and a number of other areas.
An important milestone of this process was Audience Research Study based on focus groups with visitors who are blind or have low vision in six metro areas around the country (2010-2011). This is the first national data of this kind that looks at the needs and preferences of visitors with low vision as well as barriers to full participation in art museums.

The continuation of this audience research is our current Museum Accessibility Study and Development Project (2011-2015) that aims to pilot training and evaluation tools, as well as  study development of access programs for blind visitors and the institutional impact of these programs. The project was awarded a National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Articles, reports, and other research publications:

Museum Experience and Blindness by Nina Levent, Georgina Kleege, Joan Muyskens Pursley.

An Inspirational, Fashionable Force: Judith Druck, My Grandmother by Elisabeth Axel.

Sustainable Museum Access: A Two-way  Street by Nina Levent and Joan Pursley.

Leveling the Participatory Field: the Mind’s Eye Program at the Guggenheim Museum by Georgia Krantz.

Emphasizing Observation in a Gallery Program for Blind and Low-Vision Visitors: Art Beyond Sight at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston by Bridget O’Brien Hoyt.

A  Docent’s Perspective: From Tour Guide to Advisor by Donnelly Wilburn, Seattle Art Museum docent.


Advisory Board of Researchers, Accessibility Experts and Museum Professionals

(short bios here)

Richard Bernstein
ADA Lawyer

Valerie Fletcher
Institute for Human Centered Design

Hannah Goodwin
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Matthew Kaplowitz
Bridge Multimedia Corporation

Rebecca McGinnis
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Lotfi Merabet
Harvard Medical School

Cynthia Overton
American Institutes for Research (AIR)

Alvaro Pascual-Leone
Harvard Medical School

David H. Rose
CAST Universal Design for Learning

Francesca Rosenberg
Museum of Modern Art

Glenda Sims
University of Texas

Jennifer Teich
AHRC – New York City

Gary L. Talbot
Mass. Bay Transportation Authority

Jerry Wolffe
Journalist, Lecturer, Civil Rights Advocate

Past Research was supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, MetLife Foundation, and The Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust. 

Current Research is supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Laura Niles Foundation, and Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation.

Large Metro Area Art Museums:

Brooklyn Museum, NY
Guggenheim Museum, NY
Indianapolis Museum of Art, IN
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Seattle Art Museum, WA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA

Small/Medium sized and University Museums:

Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC
Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY
Gore Place, Waltham, MA
Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ
Huntington Museum of Art, WV
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WI
Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art, Manhattan, KS
Old State House/Boston, MA
Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, NC
Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, Austin, TX
Chicago History Museum, IL
Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA
Meadows Museum, Dallas, TX
Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, Tucson, AZ
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR

Museum Programs in Action: Project Progress

A number of museums in the study have completed the focus grouse, training, and sometimes repeat trainings, and are working on their pilot programs. Image Gallery

Brooklyn Museum watercolor workshop

Brooklyn Museum watercolor workshop

people seated in front of guide and sculpture

MFAH Verbal Description Tour

people standing in front of painting

SAM Verbal Description Tour

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • LinkedIn