For many nature centers around the country, spring is peak season. Abundant wildlife, beautiful blooms, (finally!) fair temperatures, and blue, sunny skies show off your site in its best possible light.
There is of course no substitute for first-hand experiences of nature. After all, parks and preserves exist to get people out of doors!
However, your indoor space provides ample opportunity for meaningful interpretation that connects the tangible assets of your site –this species of bird, that type of tree—to memorable and powerful “universal concepts” such as the wondrous complexity of nature, the necessity of stewardship, and the value of lifelong curiosity and exploration.
Forge powerful emotional and intellectual connections with your visitors by bringing the sights and sounds, the scents and textures of the great outdoors IN with multi-sensory exhibits.
Beyond tapping into universal concepts, adding multi-sensory components to exhibits also supports Universal Design, which is defined as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”
According to the Center for Universal Design, “Principle Four: Perceptible Information” calls for design that “communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.”
Guidelines for implementing this principle include: 1) “[using] different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation of essential information,” and 2) “[providing] compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by people with sensory limitations.”
Read more about Universal Design principles here.
Incorporating auditory, olfactory, and tactile as well as visual experiences can make your site’s important assets accessible and appealing to a broader diversity of visitors, including those of different ages, learning styles, physical abilities, or linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
Multi-sensory exhibits also offer something stimulating and immersive when those April showers roll in—or even through the winter. (Unlike actual flowers, silks with scent beads won’t wither in cold weather!)
Click below for your FREE Guide to Creating Multisensory Exhibits:
Consider how you might use interactives like these to elevate and celebrate the experience of spring at your site.