MOMA New York: Lobby follies

One of the more annoying aspects of a visit to the old, pre-renovation Museum of Modern Art in New York was the coat check: a narrow, dim, corridor that could only hold a few people at a time. On a cold, rainy day, with most visitors checking something, it was crowded, confused, and chaotic.

Comes the much-heralded renovation, and voila: the old coat check experience has not only been replicated, but made even more unpleasant.

This was what it looked like on a mild mid-autumn day. Crowded? Yes. Dim? Check. Confusing? You bet. Hmm –what’s missing? I know: narrow! 

It’s not even clear how you’re supposed to get there from the lobby proper.

A popsicle stand at the coat check exit directing visitors to the entrance: a sure sign of intrinsically confusing design. Many visitors ignore this sign and enter here anyway, inadvertently jumping the line.

Meanwhile, out in the lobby, an example of dichotomous, able-bodied vs. handicapped thinking: a separate “handicapped” ramp.

Perhaps this is a naive question, but if a ramp and handrail arrangement works for so-called handicapped visitors, why would it not work for all visitors? Or if a large proportion prefer stairs, why not split it fifty-fifty? Why create a narrow cattle chute for the people with the wheelchairs and walkers? And strollers? And rolling luggage? Or who feel unsteady on stairs? Etcetera. This is really backwards thinking for the mid-oughts.


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