Archive for September, 2009

Getting comfortable in San Diego

September 21, 2009

The annual meeting of the Western Museums Association will take place in San Diego on October 24-30, and visitor comfort is on the agenda.

Beth and I are working with Stephanie Weaver of Experienceology, educational consultant Paul Gabriel, and Vivian Haga of the Museum of Photographic Arts to present a pre-conference workshop and a conference session:

Pre-Conference Workshop

Increasing Visitor Comfort to Encourage Return Visits

Sunday, October 25, 1-5:30 PM


In this tough economy, we need to do everything we can to welcome visitors and encourage them to return, become members, and support the museum financially. Visitor comfort is known to aid learning, promote mental and emotional receptivity, and increase the likelihood of a return visit; yet in many museums, comfort is not a priority. In this pre-conference workshop at the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego’s Balboa Park, participants will explore practical, economical, and simple ways that museums can help make visitors comfortable by accommodating their physical, psychological, neurological, and social needs. Participants will work together to assess public areas of the host museum in terms of comfort and accommodation and suggest potential improvements. Most critically, they will collaborate with the host museum staff to examine potential barriers to making those improvements and create strategies to address and overcome those barriers. Findings will be presented in a session at the conference.



Getting Comfortable with Visitor Comfort

Wednesday, October 28, 9:55-11:15 AM


This session offers practical and simple visitor comfort tools to apply at your museum, using the results from our pre-conference workshop at the Museum of Photographic Arts as a starting point. Experts in design, visitor experience, and physical and learning disabilities will deconstruct what we learned from our host museum and how it might be more broadly applied to museums in general, while museum staff weigh in on the workshop results and share what they learned. Panelists and attendees will suggest and critique practical, economical, and simple ways in which all museums might increase visitor comfort-physically, psychologically, neurologically, and socially.


If you’re attending WMA in San Diego this October, we’d love to see you there. 


Metropolitan Museum: Return of the American Wing

September 21, 2009

When we visited New York City in September 2009, we were delighted to discover that the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum was open to the public once again. 

Am Wing plaza view

In spite of some changes that in (Beth’s opinion particularly) make it a somewhat colder, less visually coherent space, it’s still one of the great interior spaces in American museums — an indoor piazza. 

The American Wing Cafe is open once again, and the prices are still reasonable. We were momentarily disturbed to realize that the windows have been frosted over.

Am Wing cafe

“The view is gone!” we said. But there’s a good reason, which becomes apparent as soon as you climb the stairs to the newly-added mezzanine right above the cafe.

Am wing outside view

It’s a construction site out there, and the Met is simply preserving the esthetics of the American Wing experience.


Am wing pardon appearance use this

The mezzanine itself, although it adds a ceiling to the Cafe that’s a little low for psychological comfort, is put to good use as an exhibit space.

Am Win mezzanine


Meanwhile, the piazza itself, while not as tranquil and intimate as it was before the remodeling, still has a variety of places for people to sit.

Am Wing seating


There is still a fountain. Like all fountains, or any element featuring water for that matter, it is extremely attractive to visitors.

Am Wing fountain