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Sensory Friendly Spotlight: Museum of American Revolution

The Museum of the American Revolution, located at 101 S 3rd St in Old City, is an accessibility gem. It is clear from their design, exhibits, and programs that they’ve embraced the disability community in ways that are quite uncommon. From touchable raised paintings to full staff training, the Museum of the American Revolution has made a strong effort toward inclusion.

I recently was able to take a tour of the Museum of the American Revolution with Tyler Putnam, Gallery Interpretation Manager, and Bailey Greenberg, Education Coordinator. The museum itself was an incredible experience, but as someone with vested interest in accessibility, their sensory accessible features made it even better. I’ve highlighted some of my favorite sensory-friendly features below:

Relaxed Experience Morning: The Museum of American Revolution offers Relaxed Experience Mornings, a quieter, more laid-back museum experience. On relaxed experience mornings, members who might be more sensitive to sensory stimuli are invited into the exhibits where the sounds have been turned off. Visitors need not worry about sounds of cannons booming through the museum or an unexpected movie beginning to play.

Something that really struck me about the Museum of American Revolution’s commitment to accessibility is that many of these sensory-friendly features were built into the museum from its inception; accessibility was not an afterthought! On relaxed experience mornings, sensory objects are also laid out at different points along the museum for people to interact with the museum in a different way. Bailey Gamberg, education coordinator, pointed out that while the museum initially conceived of relaxed experience mornings as a way to engage children on the spectrum, they have found that adults and individuals from other populations benefit from these mornings, as well.

Sensory Accommodations: Noise-cancelling headphones are available for any visitor who may need them. The Museum of the American Revolution additionally has a small ‘quiet room’ with a bubble tube for someone who might need immediate access to a quiet space. The museum also provides a sensory guide, which can be helpful for guests to review before entering the museum to decide which exhibits may work best for each person. Their virtual tour can also be helpful in preparing for a trip to the museum, or for enjoying the museum from home!

You can find more information on accessibility features for guests on the spectrum here.

Trained Staff: All Museum of American Revolution Staff are trained in disability sensitivity. One museum staff member who I was able to speak to emphasized that he tries to tailor his message so that it is accessible to all people in his tours. Although I didn’t get to speak to many staff members, it was clear that disability awareness was a key part of their training and that the museum values having highly invested and educated staff member who are inclusive of all guests.

Openness to the community: Throughout my tour, Bailey and Tyler emphasized how their approach to accessibility was to engage members in the community to focus on their needs. It’s always refreshing to see organizations doing things right by asking the true experts - those with lived experience. If you have the time, check out all of the disability efforts that the Museum of the American Revolution has already enacted here!

Although Museum of the American Revolution is closed right now due to COVID-19, we encourage you to add it to your list of places to see upon reopening. It is truly a wonderful place!


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