Archive for March, 2009

Visitor comfort in museums: seating

March 29, 2009

Comfortable and plentiful seating is the single easiest way to make visitors feel comfortable and welcome.






Seating can be a part of the exhibition. This is a space in an Asian museum.



This historical exhibit from the Oakland Museum is a reproduction of a military transport plane taking troops from Oakland to Vietnam. 

Photo: Laura Lovett, Oakland Museum

Photo: Laura Lovett, Oakland Museum


Seating in non-exhibit areas is critical. The lobby of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City is a great place to rest, or just sit and watch the crowds. 




Here is an example of cruel irony at MOMA. Chairs on display everywhere, and no place to sit in the entire exhibition. 


Why not let visitors sit on reproductions of these award-winning chairs? 










Visitor comfort in museums: Readable labels

March 29, 2009

There are some very simple things museums can do to help a great many visitors work less hard and be more comfortable. One of the first is to create readable labels with large type and a contrasting background,  placed at a height comfortable for most visitors.



Readability can depend on something as simple and basic as background color.





These two labels are practically side by side in the same gallery. They are lit the same way. The designs are identical except for the background color.



Contrast can be light on dark as well as dark on light– although this motif should be used sparingly, because it’s more fatiguing. This text was readable from four or five feet away:




From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, here’s an adaptation for visitors with visual impairments or anyone else unable to read the wall labels: a spiral bound book of label text.



General signage should be prominent and highly legible as well.