CINCINNATI, Ohio — The Cincinnati Art Museum is giving the VIP treatment to families of kids with special needs.

As part of a monthly program called “Sensory Saturday,” families can check out the museum before it is open to the public. 

What You Need To Know

  • The Cincinnati Art Museum offers a program for kids with special needs
  • The program is called Sensory Saturday and runs before the museum opens to the public
  • The program is a big attraction for families of kids with autism
  • Sensory Saturdays will return in September

A quieter, less crowded space is a big attraction for families of kids with autism, said Sara Birkofer, manager of accessibility and gallery programs.

“It’s a very heartwarming experience to be a part of a program that gives people access to a space that they didn’t feel welcome in before,” Birkofer said.

Besides being the first patrons of the day, Birkofer and her team also lend each family a welcome bag filled with all kinds of fun ideas for getting the most out of their visit to the museum.

“We’ve also got some fidget toys that might be helpful to help kids to not touch artworks in the gallery, which is something we very much need,” Birkofer said.

Each child taking part in the program also gets to choose a small toy to take home. 

Some families come back each month; like Calvin, a boy who uses a walker and communicates with the help of a special touch pad that talks.

 “Calvin’s parents have said they’ve never seen him walk the way he walks here,” Birkofer said. “He loves the wide open spaces and I think he just loves the ambiance of having space that’s kind of just for him.”

The museum held the most recent Sensory Saturday on May 28, but the program will return in September.

Until then, all families visiting the museum will be able to borrow the welcome bags to make navigating the museum an easier and more fun experience for every member of the family.

To see more programs from the Cincinnati Art Museum click here.