Museum’s quiet hour is a draw for MP
Staff at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro have been working hard over the last few months to create a welcoming, relaxed environment for those who live with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). In recognition of the improvements being made, Truro and Falmouth MP and Minister for Disabled People, Sarah Newton, visited as part of the National Autistic Society’s Autism Hour campaign.
In collaboration with Spectrum, a local charity that provides residential care for adults and children, the Museum’s Community Engagement Officer (Arts Council NPO supported), Celine Elliott, has been coordinating changes that include holding a Relaxed Opening event, developing a resource backpack filled with sensory ‘fiddle’ toys and optional ear-defenders, providing a ‘social stories’ download to help prepare visitors ahead of their trip and creating an online sensory map to highlight areas of high and low stimulation.
As a Royal Institution of Cornwall member, Sarah Newton heard about the initiative and asked if she could come along to find out more.
“We were very pleased to welcome her here and chat through all that we’ve been doing,” said Celine. “Our Relaxed Opening went very well and it’s now become a regular feature in our events programme. Gavin Pedley from Spectrum has been giving us very helpful advice and guidance – showing us how we can make those with ASD feel comfortable enough to properly enjoy their visit. We transformed our Lower Education Room into a chill-out area for the quiet hour and, to avoid sudden noises, turned off our hand dryers.
“It’s been a great learning curve and one that we will continue to build on in the future. A museum like ours should be there for everyone, whatever their personal challenges, and that’s what we’re aiming to achieve.”
The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Sarah Newton, said:
“It’s so important that everyone is able to enjoy attractions and places of interest, and the adjustments the Royal Cornwall Museum has put in place will make such a difference to people with autism spectrum disorders who come to visit.
“Even seemingly small things like providing ear defenders and sensory toys can have such a positive impact, and I’d encourage others to follow the museum’s lead.”
The next Relaxed Opening at the Royal Cornwall Museum is on 24th October 10-11.30am. For more information, visit https://www.royalcornwallmuseum.org.uk/a-relaxed-opening-at-the-rcm