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The Montshire Museum of Science is an interactive science center in Norwich, Vermont, with more than 150 hands-on exhibits relating to the natural and physical sciences, ecology, and technology. Outdoors, visitors can explore nature trails and exhibits on wind, water, and sound in David Goudy Science Park. Visiting exhibitions, educational programs, and special events are offered throughout the year.

Jan
22
2020

Montshire to Offer Sensory Friendly Hours in February and April,  Part of a Museum-Wide Effort to Increase Accessibility

The Montshire Museum of Science will offer Sensory Friendly Hours on Saturday, February 8, from 9 to 10am and on Thursday, April 2 from 5:30 to 7pm.

Sensory Friendly Hours give families the opportunity to enjoy a less-crowded visit to the Montshire at a discounted rate. Visitors can enjoy a fun and interactive learning experience in a comfortable and welcoming environment.

During these hours, the Montshire will offer:

  • Limited participation of up to 70 people
  • Reduced sound from select exhibits
  • Quiet, respite space with sensory materials
  • Pre-visit information, including social narratives, a sensory map, and a checklist

Sensory Friendly Hours were developed in connection with Sensory Friendly Upper Valley. This experience may be appealing to individuals with autism spectrum disorder or who have sensory processing differences. This initiative is part of a larger Museum effort to expand access and to ensure that the experiences offered are relevant, comfortable, and welcoming for all visitors.

Last year, with support from the Institute for Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, the Montshire used Design Thinking—a human-centered approach to problem solving, designed to foster innovation—to explore and plan better ways to support families affected by autism spectrum disorder. Local families, health care practitioners, researchers, and agency representatives joined us for a multi-day workshop to deepen our understanding of autism and how the Montshire can be a supportive space.

As a result, the Montshire has created several new resources, including sensory kits for visitors to check out and pre-visit information on our website so visitors know what to expect. The Museum has also altered several restrooms to provide privacy and comfort for anyone with special needs, including those with limited mobility.

“The Montshire is a great resource for participants in our Aspire program, and we look forward to a continued partnership with the Museum,” said Jayne Wolfe, Program Director of the Special Needs Support Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

During the Montshire’s Sensory Friendly Hours—and every day—visitors can check out sensory supplies at the admissions desk, including noise cancelling headphones, a weighted lap pad, manipulative fidgets, stuffies, timers, and therapy balls.

Reservations for Sensory Friendly Hours can be made on the Montshire’s website, at www.montshire.org. Space is limited to 70 people. Admission is discounted by $3 per person for these special events and it is free for Montshire members. Please note that on February 8, visitors are welcome to stay for the day. However, the galleries will open to the general public at 10am, so some accommodations will not be available after 10am.