My visit to WonderLab
I am going to visit WonderLab! I will get to explore, learn, and play.
On some days, everyone who goes to the museum has to wear a mask. On other days, it’s my family’s choice.
People get to WonderLab in many different ways. I might walk or bike, or I might ride in a car, van, or bus to get there with my adult.
When we get to the museum, we will go through the doors to get inside.
When we get inside, we will get our tickets at the front desk. Every once in a while, the museum is really busy and we might have to wait in line or we might be asked to wait until someone else leaves.
When I am inside the museum, I may notice sounds coming from the exhibits, like click, clack, splash, or bing. I may also notice the sounds of other people, like talking or laughing.
If a sensory backpack would help me be more comfortable at the museum, we can ask for one at the front desk. Inside the backpack are noise-canceling headphones, fidgets, sunglasses, and feeling cards.
Near the front desk, there is a gift shop I can visit with my adult.
I will see staff and volunteers around the museum wearing blue or green aprons. They can answer my questions or help me if I need it.
The staff keep the museum clean and safe. I can wash my hands or use hand sanitizer, which I can find throughout the museum.
If I need to use the restroom, I can let the adult with me know. I can use the restroom on the first floor that has stalls, or the family and caregiver restroom upstairs. The toilets flush when I press the handle (not automatically).
There are many exhibits I can visit on the first floor.
There is a water table on the first floor. I can put my hands in the water to play and I can wear a smock to help keep me dry.
Near the water table is the bubble area. There are soapy exhibits that I can touch and explore.
By the bubble and water areas, there are the Viscosity Tubes. Sometimes the air compressor turns on and makes a sound like a motor. I can choose to move away from the sound for a moment and come back.
I can climb the Grapevine Climber. I have to take my shoes off and wear socks on the climber. If I do not have socks on, I can borrow some from the museum.
There are some tight spaces in the climber, but I can choose where I go and when I come back down.
WonderLab has two floors to explore with my adult. We can use the front stairs, the back stairs, or the elevator to get to all of the exhibits.
There is a lot for me to explore on the second floor.
WonderLab has musical exhibits on this floor that I can use to make different sounds. One of them is a Big Piano that I can play with my feet. I’ll need to take my shoes off first, and wear socks.
On the second floor, I can also see and learn about many different kinds of live animals, including snakes, lizards, and insects.
Most of the time, the animals are in their enclosures, and I can look at them but I can not touch them. Sometimes there is a staff member holding an animal for people to touch in a safe way. I can touch the animal that the staff member is holding if I want to when it is my turn.
I can experiment with lights and shadows in the Shadow Room, which I can enter through a doorway that has a black curtain over it. It is darker inside that room than in the rest of the museum.
The shadow room has colorful lights. If someone presses the button to make their shadow appear on the wall, I will see bright flashing lights. I can choose when I am ready to leave and go explore another area.
WonderLab has a big dinosaur exhibit. When I stand under him and hold very still, he will tell me how tall I am.
Near he dinosaur exhibit there are vending machines and a water fountain. There are also tables that I can sit at to eat, drink, or rest.
If I want a more private space, I can use Lab Room B with an adult, if it is not being used by others. The door can close to make it quieter, and the lights can be turned off or dimmed to make it darker.
Another area I can explore with my adult is the Wonder Garden, which is outside, right next to the museum. It has paths to walk on, places to sit, and nature to discover. This is also a place I can go for a snack or a break.
When it is time to go, I will leave through the same doors I entered.
The people at WonderLab hope to see you soon!
- Sensory Processing Issues Explained https://childmind.org/article/sensory-processing-issues-explained/
- Sensory Resources Guide for Museums https://wp.nyu.edu/sensory_resources_guide_for_museums/social-narrative/
- Creating Successful Museum Experiences Children Disabilities https://www.arts.gov/stories/blog/2018/creating-successful-museum-experiences-children-disabilities
- Why and How to Visit a Museum, Tips for Parents https://the-art-of-autism.com/why-and-how-to-visit-a-museum-tips-for-parents/
About the Author: Nora Nelson Laird is a senior at Bloomington High School South. Nora is volunteering at WonderLab.This project is part of Nora’s Girl Scout Gold Award. Nora grew up going to WonderLab and wanted her Gold Award to help people in the community enjoy WonderLab as much as she did.
Download a pdf copy of this story: My Visit to WonderLab