The Museum is a unique environment that emphasizes hand-on engagement using all the senses and exposes children to new objects, sounds, materials, shapes, and physical activities. There is no need to sit still, no start or end to the experience, and no judging. The mode is self-directed discovery with the child setting the pace.
Boston Children’s Museum has a distinguished history of welcoming children and families who struggle every day to have a normal life and be accepted for their inherent worth. In the 1970’s the Museum became a pioneer in creating programming to address challenges faced by those with disabilities. With the creation of What If I Couldn’t, a first of its kind exhibit to promote understanding of disabilities, the Museum became a national model for addressing difficult topics. In 2004, the Museum created access/ABILITY, a travelling exhibit designed to foster understanding and appreciation of differences. Today, the Museum continues its commitment with programs such as Morningstar Access, embracing all children and their potential.
“Boston Children’s Museum is a setting where children with special needs can be themselves and enjoy a special experience together with their families. Concerns about safety, judgment, and the fear of being defined by what kids can’t do can be overwhelming obstacles, and we are proud that Morningstar Access shows kids what they can do, opening up a world of possibilities and potential. The appreciation expressed by families for these moments at the Museum has been truly moving to us,” said Carole Charnow, President and CEO.
Morningstar Access grew from an initiative to host two children who were terminally ill in a visit to the Museum. The children both had severe immune deficiency disorders and came for a private visit with their families. Their mothers had written to the Museum asking about any programs that were offered for children like theirs. At the time, the Museum did not have Morningstar Access and planned a small, private visit for the two families and their health aides.
When the families came, the children were able to enjoy the Museum for the first time. They were taken out of their wheelchairs and were able to experience the three-story climb with assistance from their aides. They had a fantastic experience and became the inspiration for Morningstar Access.
“We commend the Museum for this ground-breaking program, and we are extremely proud to be their partner,” Said Melissa M. MacDonnell, Vice-President & Director, Corporate Philanthropy & Community Affairs. “Through unique visitation of no more than 25 families at a time, Morningstar Access brings pure joy into the lives of children who combat daily restrictions, allowing them to learn and explore. Funding this very important Morningstar program at Boston Children’s Museum is part of our overall commitment to access. Along with dozens of other grants to help increase access to Boston’s greatest treasures, Liberty Mutual made a grant of $1 million to create Boston’s first universally designed playground where children with disabilities can play alongside able-bodied peers and family members. Our giving focuses on providing educational opportunity for underprivileged youth, ensuring security through life-saving basic services to homeless men, women and children, and supporting accessibility for individuals of all abilities; nationally in 2014, we made 351 grants totaling $15.4 million.”
Families with children who have various special and medical needs are welcome to this program, such as those who have weakened immune systems, those with sensory processing difficulties, or those who are blind or use wheelchairs that can benefit from having fewer people to easily navigate the environment. The families can enjoy the Museum with only a few other visitors in the building without the fear of infection or being overwhelmed by the crowd and must register for the program in advance.
Upcoming Morningstar Access dates. PreRegistration is required
- Friday June 26th, 2015 from 8 am to 10 am
- Sunday July 12th, 2015 from 6 pm to 8 pm - Evening Edition!
- Monday August 24th, 2015 from 8 am to 10 am
In addition to Morningstar Access, the Museum has resources for families with special needs children including:
Social Story Booklet
The Museum offers a Social Story booklet that helps children get prepared for their visit. It has photos and simple explanations of what children will see and expect when they visit the Museum. Children with autism or who have some anxiety concerns will benefit from this booklet the most.
Exhibit Accessibility Guide
This guide helps visitors navigate the Museum based on their learning styles or strength. This gives visitors ideas for how they can interact with each exhibit regardless of their possible limitations.
Large Print Maps
These black-and-white large print maps help visitors who have low vision identify the locations of each exhibit and other facilities (e.g. bathrooms).
ASL Interpreted Programs
We offer American Sign Language interpretation for regular programs once a month. The Museum has provided ASL interpretation for KidStage, Story Time, Critter Day, Music and Movement, Creature Feature, and Boston Black Tour.
Accessible Group Visit
We offer school or community groups with children who have special needs the opportunities to visit the Museum. If applicable, they can book their visit when it’s quieter in the Museum. The Health and Wellness Educator works with the groups and provide reasonable accommodations to meet the needs of the group. These personalized accommodations enable children to fully enjoy playing and learning from hands-on educational activities.
For additional Morningstar Access information, please visit us online at