Museum Studies Blog

Posted on June 22nd, 2021 in Internships, Student Work by Laura Holzman | Tags:

By Ross Edelstein, IUPUI Museum Studies MA student

Sometimes, you wonder why something hasn’t been done before.  Sometimes, your realize things haven’t been done for a good reason.

Sometimes that good reason isn’t good enough.

A hand holds a small painting

A tote bag next to objects including sunglasses, a rubber toy, blocks, and a painting.

Many museums like to offer sensory kits – usually with fidgets and tools.  But the Eiteljorg, where I have been doing my Museum Studies Master’s internship, did something a little different a few years back by offering sensory bags with a twist.  For their Jingle Rails exhibit, the Eiteljorg developed sensory bags where the materials were those that were being featured in the Jingle Rails exhibit itself.  This, of course, was intriguing to me.  One of the largest potential problems for people with autism is the lack of touch at many museums, especially art museums, and that so many museum objects simply can’t be touched for both the safety of guests and for the objects.

Why had nobody done it before?

So, I developed what I am terming “sensory art.”  Essentially, this is very simple art, focused on providing a variety of textures to compensate for the art itself not being able to have direct interaction with the objects.

The result is paintings that can be easily cleaned by staff, while preserving their texture, as well as clay art that guests are able to touch and can be easily cleaned.

If you’re curious about how I put it together, you’ll be able to find the full blog and all associated information on my website,