Museums Are For Everyone: Explore Our Sensory-Friendly Options

May 31, 2024

Museums Are For Everyone: Explore Our Sensory-Friendly Options

By Liz Holden Boatwright

At the North Shore Children’s Museum, we believe in the power of play to help all kids practice new skills, build social connections, and enhance their curiosity. But for kids with autism or other sensory processing difficulties, a museum experience can be overwhelming. That’s why we offer special tools, exhibits, and designated play sessions designed to foster a safe and welcoming place for all children.

For many kids, particularly those with autism or anxiety, visiting a new place can be a difficult experience. We’ve created a Social Story to help children prepare for what to expect when they visit the museum. Our Social Story details what a visitor might expect on a typical trip to the museum – from the traffic on the road outside to the museum staff who will check their tickets to an overview of each exhibit. We hope this guide will be helpful for anyone who likes to know what to expect before visiting a new place.

A page from NSCM’s Social Story


We welcome all visitors to our Sensory Space, one of our 15 exhibits. Sponsored by the J.B. Thomas Lahey Foundation, this quiet, softly-lit space is designed as a place for the whole family to take a breath and a break. For those who may be feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated, the room is designed as a quiet place with comfy bean bags, yoga and meditation guides, weighted toys and blankets, noise-canceling ear protection, and a library of books in four languages, many of which explore big feelings.

We also offer monthly low-sensory play sessions for anyone who would prefer a sensory-friendly environment; a formal diagnosis is not required. These sessions are held one Saturday per month, from 2 to 4 p.m., and have a lower ticket capacity to ensure that there are fewer kids and more staff and volunteers available. The lights and sounds are lowered during these play sessions, and we also offer noise-canceling headphones and “sensory boxes.” View Our Programs for this month’s schedule. Due to the limited capacity of these sessions, we recommend purchasing your tickets in advance.