Are you searching for accessible or sensory-friendly activities to enjoy with your family this fall? Look no further! Mesa’s Department of Arts and Culture, home to Mesa Arts Center, i.d.e.a. Museum and Arizona Museum of Natural History, provides inclusive and welcoming facilities and programs for all.
In 2019, Mesa Arts and Culture organizations became Certified Autism Centers™ as designated by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. This designation signifies that staff members completed a specialized training and certification program equipping them with a deeper understanding of autism and sensory sensitivities.
At Mesa Arts and Culture, each organization within the department goes above and beyond to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience for visitors of all abilities. From designated sensory rooms and social stories to the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program, they have thoughtfully implemented various measures to support guests with disabilities.
- Arizona Museum of Natural History is committed to creating an inclusive experience for all visitors. They offer comprehensive sensory guides for each gallery, providing valuable information about lighting and noise levels to help families plan their visit accordingly. Additionally, noise-canceling headphones and light-sensitivity glasses are available upon request. The museum features quiet areas, tactile elements and the Exploration Station, which offers engaging hands-on activities. To further enhance accessibility, the museum offers free American Sign Language self-guided tours. Tablets are available at the front desk, or visitors can explore the museum on a virtual 360-degree tour from home. azmnh.org
- i.d.e.a. Museum is another remarkable destination within Mesa Arts and Culture that strives to cater to the needs of all visitors. The museum provides sensory guides throughout its gallery spaces, offering valuable information to enhance the experience. For added convenience, a limited number of sensory backpacks are available for checkout at the front desk, and guests may also request lap desks. Quiet spaces are thoughtfully incorporated throughout the museum for those who benefit from reduced noise. ideamuseum.org
- Mesa Arts Center recently expanded its designated sensory spaces for festivals, allowing more guests to participate fully. This fall, there is an exciting addition to the Día de los Muertos Festival (Oct. 21–22, 2023), where the introduction of a Relaxed Hour on Sunday, Oct. 22, from 9-10 a.m., will provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for individuals and families with sensory sensitivities. During this dedicated hour, guests can enjoy reduced crowds, self-guided tours of the altars, reduced lighting and less amplified sound, a relaxing chill-out space, food allergy-friendly snacks, and hands-on art-making activities led by specialized artists experienced in working with individuals with additional needs. While it is a dedicated hour, guests are welcome to stay and continue to explore the festival using their own or provided (limited supply) fidgets, ear protection and other sensory resources. mesaartscenter.com
For more information about the offerings from each organization and to plan a visit that caters to your interests, or if there are specific accommodations you require that are not listed, you are encouraged to reach out to the organization. They are dedicated to supporting you and your family’s needs and continually improving the accessibility and inclusiveness of the facilities and programs. There, you will find valuable resources and details to ensure a memorable experience for your family.