NYTimes: Is This the World’s Most Accessible Museum?

Those without disabilities might not notice the innovations, but a museum in London is winning plaudits for its design and content.


LONDON — On a recent afternoon, Clare Barlow, a curator at the Wellcome Collection, a museum of science and medicine here, gave a tour of its new permanent exhibition, “Being Human.”

The exhibits included a fecal transplant kit used to treat gut infections, a sculpture that gave off the smell of breast milk, and a vial of cells that have been the basis of some of the 20th century’s biggest medical breakthroughs, taken in the 1950s from an African-American woman, Henrietta Lacks, without her consent.

Ms. Barlow didn’t start the tour with any of those. Instead, she pointed to the bottom of a display plinth.

“Can you see it’s painted black?” she said excitedly. “That’s partly because it looks beautiful, but also to contrast with the floor.” It was painted that way to help visually impaired people move around the space, Ms. Barlow said.

She then pointed to a bench in front of a video screen. “You see it’s off-center?” she said. That’s so wheelchair users can pull up alongside it and get a perfect view, she said. Normally, in museums, they have to sit to the side.

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