Museum hosts its first Accessibility and Sensory-Friendly Night for families with special needs, August 11

For immediate release ‐ August 02, 2016

Contact: Emelia Cowans, 919.707.9837. Images available upon request

RALEIGH — Nearly 13 percent of North Carolinians have some form of disability and the Autism Society of North Carolina estimates that 1 in 68 children born today has some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Because the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is dedicated to making education equal for all and removing the barriers that some in our communities face, the Museum, in collaboration with ARC of Wake County, Arts Access and Marbles Kids Museum, present Accessibility and Sensory-Friendly Night for families with special needs on Thursday, August 11 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.) This event is designed to provide a fully-accessible visit to those who might benefit from a calmer, lower-visitation period at the Museum. This event is free to all and registration is not required.

The self-guided evening spans all four floors of the Museum’s main building (11 W. Jones St.) and offers educational stations courtesy of local partner organizations and agencies, live-animal programming, and interactive activities. In addition, a sensory-friendly 3D movie — “Flight of the Butterflies” (6:00 – 6:30pm) and our current featured exhibition, “American Adventure,” which is in the form of an educational maze (6:30 – 8:30pm) are available for a special $5 charge and can be purchased at the door or online at

The Museum’s Discovery Room (for toddlers and preschoolers) will be open till 8:30pm and the Living Conservatory — home to dozens of butterflies, tarantulas, tropical plants and our two-toed sloth — will be open till 7pm. Families needing a moment to retreat to a quiet room with dimmed lights can do so inside the Explore on 4 meeting space on the 4th floor of the Museum.

Museum Accessibility and Inclusion Coordinator Liani Yirka says events like Accessibility and Sensory-Friendly Night show visitors that the Museum wants to meet them at their comfort level. “The Museum is dedicated to providing a welcoming and inclusive cultural resource to all of our communities,” Yirka says. “Sometimes visiting a popular venue or museum can prove overwhelming and can  lead to uncertainty for people who experience the world in different ways. We are excited to provide an evening that is quieter and has lower sensory experiences in order to assure all of our visitors that this is their museum, and that they can enjoy a visit here.”

Outside agencies partnering with the Museum include:

  • ARC of Wake County
  • The Autism Society of NC
  • Arts Access
  • Triangle Down Syndrome Network
  • CERT training demo
  • NCEMA Grant – Emergency Preparedness Initiative for Persons with Intellectual and Developmental
  • Disabilities
  • Bridge II Sports
  • Excelsior Classical Academy
  • Orange County Historical Museum
  • NC Exceptional Children’s Assistance Center (ECAC) and the North Carolina State Improvement Project (NC SIP)
  • AFIE – Advocates for Inclusive Education
  • SEIC – Special Education Inclusion Committee of the Wake County PTA Council
  • Hope Services
  • Apex Occupational Therapy

For more information about Accessibility and Sensory-Friendly Night, contact Liani Yirka at or 919.707.9887.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (11 W. Jones St. and 121 W. Jones St.) in downtown Raleigh is the state’s most visited cultural attraction. It is an active research institution that engages visitors of every age and stage of learning in the wonders of science and the natural world, drawing them into the intriguing fields of study that are critical to the future of North Carolina. Hours: Mon.- Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sun., noon-5 p.m. Admission is free. Visit the Museum on the Web at Emlyn Koster, PhD, Director; Susan Kluttz, Secretary, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; Pat McCrory, Governor.

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit

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