Anchorage Museum holds ‘Sensory Friendly’ morning for visitors with disabilities

A large open room with chairs and a staircase.
The Anchorage Museum Atrium on June 8, 2023. (Dev Hardikar/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Museum is holding its monthly Sensory Friendly and Access Morning this Sunday. It’s an opportunity for people on the autism spectrum and people with developmental and physical disabilities to visit the museum while it’s quiet.

“It’s a really wonderful time for people to come and experience the museum just in terms of it being less crowded,” said Madelyn Troiano, an educator at the museum in charge of the program.

From 9 to 10 a.m., before the museum opens to the public, families have access to the first floor and the Art of the North Gallery. Most families gravitate to the Discovery Center, a collection of interactive exhibits on Alaska’s environment that can get really busy during the day, said Troiano. She said the earlier opening is all about providing people with the access and the space to take in the museum at a comfortable pace so they can get the full experience.

Two people stand with their hands on a lit up museum exhibit of a volcano.
Two visitors touch an interactive volcano exhibit in the Anchorage Museum Discovery Center. The Discovery Center is the most popular spot during the museum’s Sensory-Friendly and Access Mornings. (Dev Hardikar/Alaska Public Media)

During the event, the museum also provides accommodations for people who may become overstimulated. They have fidget toys, sunglasses and chewing gum. They have designated safe spaces, too, said Troiano.

“If you really need a quiet, private moment, we have room for that, to decompress or de-escalate, whatever needs to happen,” she said.

Visitors who register online can also give specific information about their accommodations or needs. Admission is $5 per family or group.

The museum holds Sensory Friendly and Access Mornings on the second Sunday of every month. Troiano said usually about five families register each month.

“People are really happy to be here and feel taken care of and understood,” she said.

So far, she said, the only complaint has been that the museum’s coffee shop isn’t open early.

A snapping turtle in a tank.
Chomper, the Anchorage Museum Discovery Center’s snapping turtle, says hello. (Dev Hardikar/Alaska Public Media)

Dev Hardikar was Alaska Public Media's 2023 summer news intern. Reach him at

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