Students Staff

25 November 2015

Eye-tracking technology to test how wheelchair users experience major London exhibitions

We all love going to London’s world-famous museums, but do we all have the same experience? If you are a wheelchair user does the layout of exhibitions have a significant impact on your enjoyment and appreciation of the latest blockbuster show?

This Thursday and Friday wheelchair users will be visiting galleries at the world-famous Victoria and Albert Museum with eye-tracking technology monitoring how they experience the exhibitions.

The research is being led by Dr Michael Tymkiw , Lecturer in Art History and Co-Director of the Centre for Curatorial Studies at the University of Essex who is working alongside Dr Tom Foulsham from the Department of Psychology.

• Anyone who would like to volunteer to take part in the study should contact Dr Tymkiw by email at: or go to: to find out more.

By completing these tests in several top museums the University of Essex research team plans to develop recommendations and guidelines about how museums can optimise the configuration and installationof galleries in order to expand accessibility for viewers with mobility limitations.

Dr Tymkiw said: “Museums need to meet the challenge of making gallery spaces and objects from collections more accessible to visitors with physical disabilities. This is becoming increasingly important due to the aging of the overall UK population which means more and more museumgoers will have significant sight impairments and mobility limitations.

“We will be using eye-tracking technologies to analyse how visitors with different degrees of mobility navigate through museum spaces.”

Dr Foulsham specialises in using eye-tracking devices to study spectators in motion so the research team will be able to evaluate how the configuration of gallery spaces, crowd density, and the height and angle of objects on display affect the circulation and viewing experiences of visitors with different levels of mobility.

For this phase of the research museumgoers with different levels of mobility will visit two galleries in the V&A with eye-tracking devices. After each person’s visit researchers we will then conduct a brief interview to gather qualitative data.

...more news releases