Museology Master of Arts Program

November 20, 2019

Understanding Accessibility at the Seattle Art Museum

Project by Rebecca L. Janssen (2017)

Multiple laws require museums, as public institutions, to address accessibility, but few fully embrace the inclusive spirit of these laws. In order to better address accessibility concerns, some museums have established interdepartmental committees to understand and increase their accessible practices. The purpose of this project was to develop a holistic plan for addressing accessibility in practice and policy for the Seattle Art Museum’s interdepartmental committee (SAM’s Access Team). The project was implemented in two phases. The first phase assessed the pre-existing accessible practices and policies at the museum. The second phase compared this information with current best practices in the field to develop a plan for the future of accessibility. The assessment and plan guide the actions of the Access Team, helping SAM identify next steps that increase accessible practices and better serve their range of visitors. Beyond SAM, this project is a model for other museums beginning to address accessibility at their institutions, and provides a framework for understanding current practices within an institution and the field as a whole.

Keywords: Class of 2017, museum, museum studies, museology, project, accessibility, universal design, access, organizational change, museums, disability, inclusion


Janssen, R. (2017). Understanding Accessibility at the Seattle Art Museum. Unpublished master’s project, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.