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Support and resources for autistic visitors

Find out more about our range of initiatives to support and welcome autistic visitors.

National Museums Scotland is committed to encouraging autistic people to visit and enjoy our museums.  We now have a range of resources to support and welcome autistic people to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Relaxed Mornings

Join us for our monthly Relaxed Morning for anyone who would appreciate a calmer visit to the museum. We plan to hold these sessions on the first Sunday of every month. Find out more information and details of our next Relaxed Opening Hour.

2022 dates

  • Sunday 6 November
  • Sunday 4 December

2023 dates

  • Sunday 8 January
  • Sunday 5 February
  • Sunday 5 March
  • Sunday 2 April
  • Sunday 7 May
  • Sunday 4 June

Preparing for your visit

The museum has developed a general visual story featuring pictures of the museum and information about what to expect when you visit. The museum has two entrances, the tower entrance and the main entrance.  There is a visual story for each entrance:

Tower Entrance Visual Story

Main Entrance Visual Story

You may wish to enter the museum via the Tower Entrance – this avoids the busy entrance hall by the main entrance and the need to go upstairs or use the lift to get into the main part of the museum.

There is more information on our 'Plan your visit' page.

We have created a sensory map, to show all the different sensory experiences in different parts of the museum. Some of the interactive galleries are currently still closed, so please check with a member of staff on arrival. Download a map to help you find the areas best suited to you.

Download our picture communication cards of some of the museum’s most popular objects. These include information about their location.

Sensory backpacks

A limited number of sensory backpacks are available to borrow for free from the Tower Entrance desk and the Main Entrance Information Desk. We also have spare ear defenders available in adult and child sizes.

Getting to the museum

Information about getting to the museum can be found here.

You may wish to enter the museum via the Tower Entrance – this avoids the busy entrance hall by the main entrance and the need to go upstairs or use the lift to get into the main part of the museum.

Above: The Tower Entrance to the National Museum of Scotland

Is the museum noisy and busy?

It can get noisy and busy in the museum, however due to Covid-19 precautions and the restrictions on numbers the museum is currently much quieter.

There are a number of exhibits that feature noises. Particular things to note include:

  • The Millennium Clock – this goes off on the hour and includes music, lights and moving parts. The Ritchie clock in the Grand Gallery will make a sound every 15 minutes but it’s not too loud.
  • The hand dryers in the toilets are quite loud so please be aware if you are using these facilities.
  • The Performance and Lives gallery has musical instruments which can be played.
  • There are a number of audio-visual displays (videos) within the museum – the sensory map will highlight any galleries that are noisy or more likely to be busy.

In general, the Scottish galleries and the Art and Design galleries are calmer spaces.

Is there a place to go if I or someone I am visiting with is distressed?

If at any time you or someone you are visiting with finds the visit overwhelming, a member of staff can direct you to quieter areas in the museum. The sensory map also identifies the quieter spaces. During our monthly Relaxed Mornings we offer a dedicated quiet space. 

Who can I ask for help?

If you have any questions or problems during your visit, please speak to a member of our Visitor Experience team. They will be present throughout the galleries or at our information desks in the Entrance Hall, the Tower Entrance or outside the Level 3 Exhibition Gallery. The Visitor Experience team wear purple shirts and navy blazers.

Above: A member of our Visitor Experience team with visitors in the Grand Gallery

Events

Throughout the year we hold a number of relaxed events, including our monthly relaxed mornings and a programme of early door and after hours events. 

Feedback and further information

We are always striving to improve the museum experience for autistic visitors and would welcome any feedback or queries you might have. Please contact us on communities@nms.ac.uk

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