hsd worked on the Museum at the Gateway Arch project for nearly a decade. The new museum opened to the public this July and, as the exhibition designers, we couldn’t be prouder of the finished product.
Not only has it been a large-scale project, it has also been a special one as we have worked towards the goal of the National Park Service’s stated ambition ‘NPS – All In’, meaning that all facilities should provide equitable access and experiential opportunities for all visitors.
To truly make the museum accessible for all we worked with the St. Louis Universal Design Group. This group was comprised of some 25 individuals with various impairments – visual, auditory, physical, learning, emotional etc. The group had the opportunity to review and adapt all designs for usability both at a design and prototyping stage.
Therefore, it was fantastic to hear that the museum has recently received the Open Door Award for Creating Inclusive Spaces from the Starkloff Disability Institute for, “extraordinary efforts to include universal design in the Gateway Arch Museum through collaboration with the St. Louis Universal Design Group.”
The Starkloff Disability Institute is a non-profit organisation dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate fully and equally in all aspects of society. Its annual Open Door Awards recognises individuals, organisations, and initiatives that make a significant impact on the lives of people with disabilities.
David Newburger, Commissioner on the Disabled and ADA Coordinator for the City of St. Louis, commented, “We now have an elegant entrance to the museum without steps. We now have large type on cards next to many displays so that a person with low vision can read words that are behind glass. We now have knee space and active parts of touch screens that allow smaller children and wheelchair users to reach and interact with the screen displays.
“We now have 86 tactile replicas of items that allow the blind to “see” the thing displayed, for example, a stage coach, a peace medal, a Pirogue (that is, a kind of dug out canoe), a school bus at scale next to a model of the Arch so that person who cannot see can now absorb the enormity of the Arch.”