Asher Friedman

February 7, 2017

We took our first trip to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum last week and it was amazing. The items on display were fascinating. Walking around the space taking notes, I wasn’t able to appreciate its contents. I’m looking forward to going back with friends on my own time. Hopefully, with our class modifications in place!

Here are my comments from perusing the museum:

  • Kravis II has their unique chairs sticking out from the other pieces behind glass, which could cause tripping
  • 3rd floor has platforms that blend in with the floor
  • I didn’t see any braile
  • Lobby is dimly lit
  • Some of the pieces in the Ellen Degeneres exhibit are more than 5′ away
  • The stairs leading from the main lobby are dimly lit
  • Kravis II collection has smell numbers to distinguish pieces
  • Some of the crosses for the pen are difficult to find
  • Ainsle gallery has examples that might be difficult to see
  • Antique Radio perfectly blends into the wall so it might be difficult to see
  • The angle of the smart pen to activate the digital storage might be difficult to maneuver for people with arthritis
  • The red coffin-shaped seat in the lobby might be too low for some people
  • Usdan gallery has large table with sharp corners
  • Not enough places to sit!
  • Exit signs are red instead of green, some people to who don’t speak English might not know it is a safe passage


February 23, 2017

I visited the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) to compare it’s features with the Cooper-Hewitt (CH) museum.

What is working? What isn’t?
  • I confused the people that examine your bags with the people that check your ticket. Before entering the MOMA exhibits, your bags are searched. I confused this with where they check your tickets and put my ticket away. Only to arrive at the actual ticket check and had to pull my ticket back out again.
  • There is lots of available seating both in and out of the exhibits.
  • Almost everywhere has adequate lighting. The only places that don’t are the theater rooms.
  • A vast majority of the art and its descriptions have a nice contrast to notice with the wall, so they are easily noticed.
  • The entrance to every floor has an Information booth that is constantly manned.
  • There are frequent “You are here.” maps on the walls.
  • All of the hand rails are transparent so any art that is visible above or below can be seen.
  • The theaters are actually too dark. People bump into one another and there’s not any guidance tape or light to maneuver yourself to available seating.
  • MOMA has nice tall, wide doors to each room.
  • If there are models, or tall works of art, many of the descriptions for them are actually located on the floor at its base. This will make it easy to identify and accessible for people in wheel chairs.
  • Music from the 60’s was playing in the curated space with art from that era.
  • Some of the art located on tables was angled upwards. Some of the tables themselves were angled as well.
  • Audio headsets have 3 settings: collections, visual descriptions, and kids
What features do the competitors have?
  • Audio headsets were available.
  • Clearly marked directions for the elevators, escalators, bathrooms, restaurant, etc. throughout.
  • Before entering the exhibit there were three large screens that showed an overview of all the floors, highlights, and general info (upcoming films, tours, etc.).
  • Some exhibits that had several pieces from a singular artist also had books with a collection of all their works on the seats in those spaces.
  • Escalators were available to all floors.
  • MOMA had a “Share your thoughts” wall with many post-it notes showing different ideas, observations, and drawings.
  • There was a rough, sandpaper-like tape on the floor around a few exhibits to designate where not to cross.
  • A few rooms had automatic sliding doors to eliminate outside sound from the rooms so one can view the art in peace.
What features are missing from the marketplace? What is the most important way that the Cooper Hewitt can innovate and serve a wide range of museum-goers, with and without a range of disabilities?

I feel like there could be more interactivity in museums, especially that which is in CH. There is one piece in MOMA which is more or less a pile of sand. But the sand is not blocked off. A person could put there feet in or at least approach it. Much of what CH displays are artifacts or pieces that used to be in the marketplace. I am grateful that CH is preserving a lot of these interesting equipment, but why not have a replica, or duplicate, that the audience can interact with? They were originally designed to be held. Let the audience be transformed to the 1950’s and interact with a radio from that time.