Going to one of Winnipeg’s many museums is a wonderful activity for families—especially during the winter! The Manitoba Children’s Museum is working hard to ensure that all children can take part in all the fun that the museum offers.

The Children’s Museum, along with community partners including the Autism Learning Centre, Autism Manitoba, On the Spectrum Occupational Therapy, and families in the community, work together to understand the types of resources will that will make the museum more accessible. As part of these ongoing efforts, the idea for the “Explore-Abilities Morning” was born in 2015. 

The Museum’s Director of Education and Exhibits, Erin McIntyre, notes that the Explore-Abilities morning occurs several times per year. At these events, the Museum offers free admission to children with sensory processing differences and their families before the museum opens to the general public. During this event, multiple adaptations are made to the museum galleries to minimize potential triggers to children with sensory-processing differences, such as turning off flashing lights and offering paper towels in spaces that traditionally just have hand dryers. Admission is limited in order to create a space where families can enjoy a quieter museum visit.

In addition to these supplemental measures, the museum has also implemented several measures to improve accessibility all the time, including providing access to wheelchairs, sunglasses, ear defenders (to protect children’s ears from loud noises), fidget toys, designated quiet zones, a social narrative document for preparing for your visit, and video and text relay for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The Manitoba Children’s Museum is a non-profit organization, and the organization sees clear links in their mission to Article 31 of the summarized United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, which states that “[c]hildren have the right to relax and play, and to join in a wide range of cultural, artistic, and other activities.” Although advocacy is not an outright part of their mission, the Children’s Museum exists to spark kids’ creative learning.

According to McIntyre, the Children’s Museum believes in the potential of all children and provides an interactive learning environment that nurtures the power of imagination and spirit of self-discovery. For over 30 years, the museum has been the place for families to play, laugh, learn, and grow. Children have an innate hunger to learn, a strong appetite for knowledge, and an avid thirst for play – and they have the right to have these needs met. The Children’s Museum provides an environment where all kids can thrive in a safe facility designed exclusively for their creative play.

The Explore-Abilities Morning is a fairly new way that the Children’s Museum is becoming an even more accessible space for children in need. The next opportunity to take part in the Explore-Abilities Morning is March 23rd from 8:00-9:30 am – learn more here!