COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Every few months, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum holds Sensory Saturday. Museums can be overwhelming, with so many things to see and learn about.
Sensory Saturday caters to people who may be easily overwhelmed or overstimulated. “Sensory Saturday is a day where we turn everything down in the museum. We try to make sure that the lights are a little lower, the volume’s a little lower. We have lots of tactile things out for people to touch,” says museum educator Erin Harr. “We try to just make the museum a welcoming place for all of our friends that might not be able to join us when it’s a bustling, busy Saturday.”
This experience can be helpful for kids who can be distracted and people on the spectrum. Haar says veterans also benefit from a calmer experience. “Those that have PTSD or other injuries that might preclude them from visiting on a normal day,” says Haar. “We want to make sure that we’re a little less crowded, a little more welcoming, a little more quiet for those folks who need that time and space.”
President and CEO of the museum Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter says he has brought his grandkids to Sensory Saturday. He says it was much easier for the kids to focus and really take the museum in.
“Instead of this being a giant playground and a small crowd control exercise, it lets them experiment and think and touch a lot of stuff,” says Lt. Gen. Ferriter.
And if even Sensory Saturday is too much for someone, the museum has sensory inclusive bags that you can use for the day. In it is a pair of headphones, a fidget spinner, and some other tools to help people successfully experience the museum.
And for people who are nonverbal, Haar says, “We’ve also got a card here that can say ‘I’m feeling angry’ or how they are feeling. It also explains something that they might need, but they wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell us that they needed something.”
Most of all, Haar says the goal of Sensory Saturday is to make every visitor comfortable. “We hope those that visit us on Sensory Saturday are able to get the experience of the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, hear our veterans’ stories, and just feel comfortable while they are here,” says Haar.
The museum has Sensory Saturday every quarter. It will also be open Monday to celebrate President’s Day, and admission will be $1.