FAMSF Improves Museum Access with Beam Device

The Beam Tour program allows visitors with disabilities to visit the de Young remotely with the use of a computer with a camera and a Wi-Fi connection. What differentiates this particular program from our standard audio tour or an online virtual tour is that the technology, an ambulatory device known as Beam, provided to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco generously by its maker, Suitable Technologies, allows for an independent and interactive experience.

For example, patrons with disabilities that prevent them from visiting the museum in person can log on and effectively proceed through galleries via the Beam in a self-determined path. The device’s sensitive lenses allow the offsite visitor to see the art in high resolution, while its microphone, screen, and speakers enable interaction in real time with guides or friends in the museum. Comments or questions from the offsite visitor can be relayed and responded to immediately. We believe this in-museum program to be the first of its kind, and it broadens access for a previously underserved segment of the population.

The Fine Arts Museums’ access programs are robust and serve a wide range of visitors with disabilities. Programs include tours for persons with dementia and Access Days, when visitors with disabilities are invited to visit—at reduced or no cost—when the Museums are closed to the general public. This new Beam Tour removes the barrier of extreme mobility challenges and allows for virtual visits to the museum galleries.

Watch the CBS News segment "Robots open up the world of art" here and the Fox News segment here.

You can learn more about Accessibility at the Fine Arts Museums here.

This program is generously supported by Hanson Bridgett.