View of the five islands that illustrate the urbanization of Capitol Hill, 1814 through 2020.

US Capitol Tactile Models
Gallagher & Associates, 2021 - 2022
The US Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) in Washington DC had the goal of creating a universally accessible experience when refreshing their exhibit. G&A recognized the increased availability of new, durable tactile fabrication methods and mounting trends in tactile artifacts and diagrams, so our initial concepts offered up many touchable opportunities for the exhibit. We aimed to both clarify the existing content and grant blind or low vision visitors access to the visual elements of the Capitol's art and architecture. The final product added five tactile maps of Capitol Hill and two models of the Capitol's Dome to the existing inventory of six touchable objects in the "Nation's Capitol" gallery of the exhibit: a collection for every subsection.

Each tactile model was drawn from a top-down photo of its corresponding scenic model, then reviewed thoroughly for content accuracy. ADA-compliant numbers match a key on the right side of the panel.

Latter models in the five-model series highlight which buildings were new and which were existing with a tactile texture.

Interior & Exterior Capitol Dome Models
The CVC's original exhibit drew visitors in with its large scale replica of the Capitol Building's signature dome. Though this model itself is durable and visitors can get a sense of the details through touch, we realized it's difficult for any blind or low-vision visitor to get a sense of the overall shape of the dome exterior or the numerous interior details. In order to reach this audience, we illustrated the interior and exterior of the dome based on reference material and closely-reviewed models, then commissioned a 3D printing specialist to create these reduced-dimension versions that worked with the exhibit space.

The interior section view of the large dome model is a beautifully detailed scene. The tactile models on the right bring those details to a wider audience of visitors.

Detail of the two models

Front view of the large dome model, on the reverse side of the interior section.

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