Queens Museum: Central Atrium for All

A colorful, detailed, and wide-angle perspective digital rendering that reimagines Queen Museum’s West Reception area and Central Atrium. The rendering is populated with a diverse group of over 20 visitors across a broad spectrum of age, disability, gender, and race. The rendering illustrates inclusive design interventions like a multi-height reception desk with integrated seating, a counter featuring accessibility equipment, interactive digital screens, a rest area where a pair of Deaf individuals are having a conversation in American Sign Language, and a wide, gently sloping ramp where a wheelchair user has just ascended from the lower atrium to the foreground of the image

Image: Denise Chow, Maya Gamble, Reem Khorshid, N’Dos Onochie, Kalla Sy

Queens Museum: Central Atrium for All is a 2-year design-research project funded by a $250,000 grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, conducted from 2020-2022 by JSA/MIXdesign, a New York-based architectural studio specializing in inclusive design, in collaboration with the Queens Museum and Queens Community House.


This report documents not only the end-product of this research, but also the story of implementing a participatory design process to generate design recommendations that can be adapted by a wide range of institutions to make their buildings more accessible and welcoming for diverse audiences across age, culture, disability, gender, race, and religion. The project treats the Queens Museum as a generalizable case study that can be adapted by other museums to improve the entry sequences of their buildings.


The project used a range of engagement tools informed by best practices in public health – literature reviews, surveys, interviews, site assessment tours, public programs, and professional development trainings – to solicit experience-based knowledge from stakeholders and visitors. Central to the project was the recruitment of an “Access Cohort” composed of 27 Queens residents who were paid to identify access barriers and co-create inclusive design solutions throughout the course of the project.


This project is part of JSA/MIXdesign’s larger initiative MIXmuseum (founded in 2018) which works with institutional partners to consider accessibility challenges faced by many art museums that underwent renovations in the early to mid-2000’s, particularly in public entry sequences that need to meet the needs of the diverse audiences they hope to attract. MIXmuseum focuses on creating open-source recommendations and toolkits for museums to improve the public-facing, non-gallery areas of the visitor experience. You can learn more about MIXmuseum on their website






A photograph taken in mid-day during a focus group held at Queens Museum, one of the participatory design activities that took place during the Central Atrium for All project. A group of about 20 individuals wearing surgical masks are seated in a circle of wooden folding chairs, awash in a golden glow of filtered daylight from a skylight above. The diverse group includes older adults, individuals with walkers, caregivers, baby strollers, and white canes for low-vision individuals. The group is in active discussion with a facilitator, who sits in front of an amplifier and large digital TV monitor that depicts children on a tour of the museum.
Photo: JSA/MIXdesign




Project Lead: Seb Choe

Principal: Joel Sanders

Report Layout & Graphics: Camille Esquivel

Architectural Design: Marco Li

Public Health Researcher: Abigail Ginader

Project Support: Nate Sloan, Matthew Liu

Focus Group Facilitators: Eron Friedlaender, Julia Anderson

Co-Design Workshop Facilitators: Hansel Bauman, Manuel Mansylla


Queens Museum

Project Lead: Catherine Grau

Core Team: Debra Wimpfheimer, Gianina Enriquez, Kimaada LeGendre, Justin Singleton, Hitomi Iwasaki, Jasmine Castillo, Laura Sloan

Project Support: Sophia Marisa Lucas, Adrianne Koteen, Ben Strauss, Xavier Roblas de Armas, Amy Raffel


Queens Community House

Dennis Redmond, Nicole Vaughn, Jennifer Clark


Access Cohort 

Angela, Elizabeth, Esther, Eva, Gladys, Itzamna, Juan, Liaam, Luis, Manjusha, Marco y Maria, Mariella, Marselette, Max, Maya, Monica B., Monica P., Nancy, Nayana, Norma, Rosario, Sahar, Steffany, Tamara, Tashrika, Virginia, Yesenia


Yale Graduate Students

Annika Babra, Denis Chow, Julie Chan, Cindy Duan, Ben Fann, Sarah Fodero, Maya Gamble, Ann Johnson, Emily Hudson, Reem Khorshid, Alyssa Kim, Fany Kuzmova, N’dos Onochie, Yuqing Qu, Kalla Sy, Yazmeen Wardman, Joon Yun, Grace Zajd, Yushi Zhang


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Yale School of Architecture, Dean’s Fund.