Seattle Art Museum


I was hoping to have a better experience this time, but it was similar to the last one. My friends and I wanted to attend Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Rooms Exhibition. The regular tickets were sold out online but they were still offering on-site tickets. We needed some accommodations so my friend reached out to inquire about it. Her questions were unanswered for the most part. She had to ask again in a separate email and finally got them answered plus the staff informed us that we could go inside in a different line so we didn't have to wait for hours due to one of our friend's condition. We showed up and was able to get the tickets after showing a copy of the email about what the person told us to do. 

We loved the amazing exhibition. It was very fun, beautiful and colorful. We did have some Deaf-challenged experiences throughout the day that could've been avoided if planned in advance. For example, the staff would talk to us every time before we entered the room. There was a display with some rules. However, the staff were saying more things compared to what was on the poster. One of them did ask to type on our phone to explain some things such as to not place our smartphones too far inside the little windows for the flashing light room (to avoid having it fall inside) so that was great since we wanted to be conscious of the rules and not damage anything. We also didn't want to lose our smartphones! So that was helpful to know. 

I personally think it would've helped so much if the staff had a small lamented paper or big index card with additional information to show Deaf and Hard of Hearing visitors of anything that could or needed to be shared before entering that room. I was also concerned and puzzled with how it varied for providing accommodations. It should be the same regardless of regular tickets or on-site tickets. The whole thing was very unclear and we had to jump through some hoops in order to get it worked out.

I am hoping to see things improve at SAM so it's less Deaf-challenged and clear for getting accommodations when it's needed. 

  • Well Lit Environment


Friend and I bought tickets online to see the Intimate Impressionism Exhibition. When we arrived in person to pick up our tickets, I asked the woman at the check-in desk on 1st floor if there was some kind of accommodation with having the audio in print of what people were listening to through their headphones during the tour. She told me no. 

But when we went to the 3rd floor to enter the exhibition, I decided to ask the same question again. A man named Chris C. immediately knew what I meant and located a binder with all of the descriptions in print. He informed me that someone else had taken another binder with the normal font size and ours was in large print. It was difficult to hold with it being a bit heavy and bulky. My Deaf friend noticed some people looking at their phones and realized that it was similar to our binder but available online via app! No one had told us about this option. It helped us a lot because we couldn't listen with headphones and it wasn't comfortable holding a somewhat heavy binder while navigating through the crowd for an hour or longer. 

Many thanks to Chris C. for communicating with me via paper/pen and providing the binder book. I think my friend spoke with him too about the app to use. The reason why I'm giving 3 stars is because a staff incorrectly told us the wrong information, the app feature wasn't shared with us when we asked about the binder, and the SAM website appears to not provide what is available and/or where to pick it up for accommodations such as the binder. What if someone had stopped by in person and got the incorrect information and decided to leave without purchasing tickets? Also it appears that they only have one binder with normal font size and one binder with large font size. There needs to be more in case several Deaf and Hard of Hearing people come by and don't want or know about the app feature. An older crowd might not be savvy with technology. SAM sees A LOT of people every day so it's good to be prepared. Overall, they're going in the right direction and that's good. Just needs a few improvements :)

P.S. I was surprised and disappointed that their film(s) had no CC on the big screen. 

  • Makes Eye Contact
  • Speaks Clearly
  • Positive Attitude
  • Assisted Listening Devices


I love that SAM hosted the MIRO exhibit in American Sign Language. Being my family is very involved in art, it meant a lot to me to be able to bring them and experience a fully accessible tour. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if every exhibit was conducted this way. I was not able to stay long so I was unable to check out the rest of the museum. From previous visits here I have noticed their video's were closed captioned. Another very accessible feature for deaf/hh individuals! If SAM continued more ASL tours, I would jump at every opportunity to come back!   


NOTE: This is my second review for this museum. My previous review was a 1. So. We've seen some improvement here...!

Through a wonderful collaboration with Deaf Spotlight, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has made it possible for ASL-fluent docents to lead gallery discussions exclusively in ASL.

I have worked with many institutions in the past 11 years, and have seen a range of approaches in offering this service to the ASL community. One can understand my shock with SAM, (back in 2012) finding this notion to be completely foreign.

Now they've boldly taken the step to offer this. Well done!

The next step is for them to really work on expanding programming that serves primarily the ASL community. They can look to others like the Metropolitan Museum of Art (in NYC) for great ideas in the commitment to serve ASL users.


My enthusiasm to see the Japanese Fashion exhibit at SAM was tempered by the fact that the museum has yet to make some significant improvements in serving the American Sign Language Community. All moving images, visuals, videos and other interactive media with voice overs were not captioned. The museum's efforts to serve the Blind community are commendable; however there are no plans in place to add any docents that are conversant in American Sign Language for guided tours in ASL - or even provide ASL-interpreted tours.

A large part of this involves the capital needed; therefore the museum can do more by allocating it's resources to locate and secure external funding. 

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