About this Blog
Statement of Purpose
This blog was created primarily to promote and discuss the idea that comfortable museum visitors are happy visitors who are more likely to enjoy their visits and more likely to return. Thus, museums and other public spaces are better and more successful in all ways when they provide basic comforts including (but not limited to) good seating, readable signs and labels, lounges and other areas of visual and psychic relief, and navigable restrooms. Our intent is to analyze museums and other public spaces in terms of comfort, a word we use inclusively to mean visual, aural, intellectual, and emotional comfort as well as physical comfort for a wide range of humans of all ages and types. Given this broad mandate, we might wind up touching on topics as diverse as architecture, exhibit design, food service, economics, retail sales … we’ll see where it goes. We hope to maintain common sense, and a sense of humor.
Who We Are
I am a museum consultant. Besides working in partnership with my husband, Steve Tokar, I’ve worked on data collection for a number of visitor evaluation projects. In the course of this work, I’ve thought a lot about the museum experience from the viewpoint of the visitor. I am also a registered nurse. As a nurse, I am trained to see people as individuals, not as marginalized or stereotyped members of so-called disability groups — the blind, the disabled, and so on. In my view — and this is hardly an original viewpoint — we are all of us at some point in our lives disabled, impaired, handicapped. As babies, we all start out small, with poor vision, and unable to walk. As adults, we can be injured or otherwise impaired at any time. Public spaces, including museums, should reflect this reality by accommodating a wide range of sizes, shapes, and physical abilities.
I’ve worked in and around museums for around 15 years as a writer, exhibit developer, evaluation consultant, and media producer. The very first project I worked on was a series of universally accessible audio tours at the New York Hall of Science, which were among the first audio tours at a hands-on science museum anywhere. Thus I’ve been aware of universal or life-course design from the beginning of my museum career. In 2002-2003 I conducted the first (and to my knowledge, so far the only) survey of universal design attitudes and practices in North American hands-on science centers. Since 2004 I’ve written and presented on the topic of comfort, and lack thereof, in art museums.