Minxin Cheng

#2 The MoMA

Contextual Inquiry Responses

I choose MoMA as my research objectives. I went through their website first before I headed to there. There is an independent part of Accessibility on their website with detailed categorization.

Link: Introdction of accessibility programs in MoMA


As it’s introduced on the website, all public areas and entrances of the Museum are wheelchair accessible. They provide wheelchairs free in the checkroom of the main lobby, while permit motorized wheelchairs. Other kind of equipment for wheelchairs such as wheelchair-accessible restrooms, family restrooms are also available.

Specific programs also developed for different kinds of disabled.

  • Individuals who are blind or partially sighted

For individuals who are blind or partially sighted, MOMA provides Braille gallery maps and audio tours, service animals are accepted on whole museum area, and they also provide Touch Tour with their trained guides to cognize these artworks by touching.

Figure 1. 
Screenshot from video on MOMA website: Visitors with visual impairment are touching the artworks.

Figure 2. 
Screenshot from video on MOMA website: Trained guides are describing the paint to visitors with visual impairment.
  • Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing

For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, they can pick up a transcript of any of audio programs at the Audio Desk, and also can schedule free sign-language interpretation and CART captioning for any MoMA program.

  • Individuals with developmental, learning disabilities, and dementia

For people with developmental or learning disabilities, also dementia, they provide discussion opportunity to ask questions about art, discuss ideas with MOMA educators, and view art in MoMA’s collection and make them own. People can also find a community of other art-enthusiasts.

As it says, “MoMA welcome everyone”, it does, but during my inquiry I still find some other features worth to discuss, also something problems that can be better. I list them as follows, these following features and problems are not only specific to disabilities, they relate to every visitor of MoMA.

2. Vision and Information

  • The whole exhibition area is lighted by uniform and bright light, generally it soft and comfortable.
  • The information labels height is both comfortable for normal visitors and visitors in wheelchairs, but some information labels are not convenient to read as following pictures showing.
Figure 3. An information label of Nan Goldin: The Balled of Sexual Dependency
Figure 4. Detail of the information label
Figure 5. An information label of From the Collection: 1960-1969
As it shows, all introduction information are put on one information label, it takes time to match each information to the exhibits.
  • There is a lot of multimedia applying in the whole exhibition area, some of them could be a trigger to some specific disease such as epilepsy. Following are two examples.
Figure 6. One of current exhibitions: Teiji Furuhashi: Lovers

The artwork is displayed by video projection on the wall of a dark room. The video runs circle around the whole room and keeps changing.

Figure 7. One of current exhibitions: From the Collection: 1960-1969

The artwork is also displayed by a projector projects flickering images on the wall.

Other notes:
For more information about potential triggers of seizure triggers in museum, this website may provides some details:
Link: Epilepsy Foundation: Photosensitivity and Seizures
Following are some possible triggers of seizures who are photosensitivity:
Figure 8.

3. Sound and Radio

  • Visitors can get radio guide by two approaches, one is borrow a free guidance from service center, or download a MoMA App in Apple equipment.
  • Visitors find out the radio guide by entry the guide number on the guidance equipment or their own Apple equipment, but not all exhibits have their own guide number. Sometimes people can’t get extra introduction from the radio guidance.
  • Broadcasting in the museum is played by different languages that is very convenient for non-English speaking visitors.
  • Some artworks includes background voice may make people uncomfortable. Following is an example:
Figure 9. An artwork of From the Collection: 1960-1969

It’s one of artworks of From the Collection: 1960-1969. Four old television equipment voice harsh noise what makes people very uncomfortable even for normal visitors. It may even worse for people with special disease.



4. Facilities

  • Special equipment for disabled, for visitors come with families are basically complete as the description on the Overview part, but there are also some details can be improved such as the checking service table is a little high that may be not comfortable for some people and people in wheelchair.
  • There are huge amount of visitors crowd into the museum everyday. Many of the facilities are crowded. There were a lot of people waiting in line of entrance, cloakroom, many visitors lay on sofa in the resting area, while the air were not fresh, and exhibit area were noisy.

5. Others

  • The MOMA App is useful and easy to use. It sorts the exhibitions information in two ways: by different information and by the exhibit floor.
Figure 10-13. Screenshots form MoMA App
  • Some exhibition content may not suitable for children visitors such as the Nan Goldin: The Balled of Sexual Dependency. It’s a great exhibition but indeed includes some violence and sex content what may not suitable for children. I’m not sure whether it needs a notification like film classification system and I haven’t found out article our discussion relates to this issue directly.
Figure 14. Nan Goldin: The Balled of Sexual Dependency
A blog for reference: I took my children to sex and death museum

#1 Cooper Hewitt Museum

Contextual Inquiry Responses

We took the first trip to the Copper-Hewitt Museum last week, but for me, it was my second time. I’ve been there on the Museum Day of last year September. In my first trip, I was amazed about the touch screen and the Pen. This time, for the accessible inquiry, I observed more details than last time and I’d like to summary them as following aspects:


For blind and low-vision users, I tend to think the light environment of the whole museum space may be a little bit dim, some of the exhibition rooms where have windows there can be light up by natural light, but the central part of the building is a bit too dark that might be a challenge for low-vision guests.

The exhibition hall doesn’t have many information screens, but the Interactional screens being set in most of the exhibition rooms might be a trigger of epilepsy. As I search the information about epilepsy, some particular light could make epilepsy come on. I’m not sure whether those screens will be negative factors.

For color blindness people, I didn’t find some special design for them. Based on the information I got online about the color blindness, including blue-yellow blindness, red-green blindness and total color blindness. My guess is that the EXIT sign is a special design because commonly it should be green but red on Copper-Hewitt.


There was almost no sound design in the whole exhibition area. I only heard some video sound in the corner of the radio exhibition area.


As I mentioned above, there were no too many screens for guidance information. Visitors got information mainly through the instructional screen set in exhibition room and the information labels along the display cabinets. The height of these labels was comfortable for visitors in wheelchairs and let visitors easily touch the cross icon with the Pen.

On the other hand, the guide sign of the museum is sometimes confusing. I enter the museum through the garden side this time. I couldn’t find any indicative mark of entry. I finally find that when I entered the coffee shop asking the stuff there then entered the museum through the museum shop with another two lost visitors. The floor sign was also confusing; the number beside the elevator shows the number of the elevator but not the floor number visitors now on. I spent time to make sure whether I was on 2 Floor or 3. I think it should be clearer.


The interaction design is the most interesting part of Copper Hewitt. The center of interaction design is the interactional screen. Visitors touch the screen browsing information and background of items displayed, also can design artworks by them.

In terms of the interaction design, two rooms in the museum impressed me. One is that individual room with only an interactional screen and a projector, visitors can drag pattern into the draw area on the screen or draw their own pattern on the screen, then the projector will show the pattern on surrounding walls. The other one is the processing lab on the ground floor where people can pick up a city issue then make up their solution.

As a visitor, people can get information and save them for later by touching the cross icon, also as a designer, people can save their own artworks and ideas at that moment.


For disabled visitors, there was a special elevator for them going upstairs at the front entrance door near to the coat checking service counter. It’s old equipment and exists some problems such as when the door opened, it’s not slid to one side or two sides, but need people to open as opening a door in our home. It may be a challenge for the disabled to hold the handle, wrench it and open the door. The door is also conflict with the service counter, if there are other visitors checking their coats, the door will not be easily opened.

Other equipment as I mentioned above such the information labels are convenient for the disabled visitors in gerenally.