Seated woman speaking at an FRN event while other attendees listen attentively

(Re)designing the Dinosaurs: Museum Accessibility and Digital Design

This seminar examines the potential of museums to adopt multimodal approaches for enhancing experiences and making collections accessible through digital design and new technologies. Emphasis will be placed on a deep look at current museum practices today, including ways that museums can be more inclusive. An entire day will be dedicated to an on-site visit to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), complemented by readings that excavate and critique the history and theory of museums during their formative stages.

While the seminar doesn’t exclusively focus on dinosaurs and scientific collections, its overarching goal is to broaden awareness and cultural understanding of museums. It addresses their formative role in perpetuating issues such as abilism, colonial violence, and white supremacy. We will closely study strategies and design opportunities employed to rectify past harm, including examples used by designers, artists, and museum technologists. In a post-COVID world, our exploration will extend to both successful strategies and failures museums have experienced in designing for individuals with diverse motor, cognitive, sensory, and behavior-emotional disabilities. Our analysis aims to provide insights into the evolving landscape of museum practices.

By the end of the course, participants will design and develop their own hands-on final project: a low-fidelity prototype for the design and implementation of a selected museum object or a museum experience so that it becomes accessible beyond the bounded regions of sight.

Seminar Schedule. Seminars run Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a midday communal lunch. Seminar conveners may adjust the class schedule in response to participant needs. Special events may also be held during the week. Participants are required to attend the full week of seminar meetings and maintain 90% attendance overall.

Seminar Materials. Eligible participants are provided with all required seminar materials (books, articles, laboratory equipment, and entrance fees).

Accommodations & Meals. Limited housing accommodations are provided to participants who live more than 50 miles from the program site. All admitted participants are provided with some meals during the program period.

Application Procedure. Applicants should submit the completed application along with all of the following:

  • A statement of intent that indicates how the seminar participant will apply what is learned at the home institution
  • A current CV
  • A letter of support from either the division dean or department head, who is well-acquainted with the applicant’s area of research
  • Their institutional liaison officer’s approval