Reimagining the Museum Lobby

Paper

Friday, April 03, 2020: 11:00am - 12:20pm -

Diana Pan, The Museum of Modern Art, USA, Shannon Darrough, The Museum of Modern Art, United States, Rik Vanmechelen, The Museum of Modern Art, USA

The lobby is the first place a visitor experiences a museum. But quite often this space is confusing and intimidating in its effort to serve a multitude of purposes. At The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, the lobby has historically welcomed approximately 3 million visitors annually. In October 2019, MoMA, which has undergone a multi-year expansion project including closing its doors to the public in the final 4 months of construction, will re-open with 30% more gallery and public space. The average annual visitation is also expected to increase noticeably. This paper outlines the thought process and evolution of MoMA’s new lobby as it tackled key problems such as creating a single space to serve a widely diverse visitor base; balancing the tension between serving as a space for art vs a space for commerce; using technology solutions to minimize friction at points of transaction such as at the ticketing area, at the coat check, in the retail stores, and at the scanning posts’ point of entry; optimizing queueing and manage crowds to ease visitors’ anxiety; and assisting visitors in wayfinding after they complete the transactional elements of their Museum journey.

This paper specifically focuses on the visitor experience in the lobby, and the making of MoMA’s new lobby. Many assumptions were made in redesigning and transforming the lobby so that it is a space beyond simply commercial transactions, so that art is fully integrated and a visitor is immersed in art from the moment they set foot inside. In addition to a deep dive of the afore-mentioned problems, and a description of how MoMA approached each, this paper will share results based on concrete data analytics and observations in its initial opening months. Where applicable, operational changes as a result of such data will also be shared.