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The Secret Fort Sensory Space at Galway City Museum

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min read

The Secret Fort Sensory Space at Galway City Museum

min read

18/01/22

The Secret Fort Sensory Space at Galway City Museum

Galway City Museum was awarded funding for the development of the Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture exhibition Monument. This project created a multidisciplinary exhibition platform about large monuments on small islands in Europe, but with a primary focus on Dún Aonghasa and the stone forts of the Aran Islands. Early on in the project development, because one of our volunteers was a student with Autism we decided we would like to include a sensory space for children as part of the exhibition. However there wasn’t funding available within the exhibition budget for this feature. It was decided to seek funding under the Galway City Council Creative Ireland scheme for this project.

We identified a small child-size space in the exhibition for the sensory space. We called it the Secret Fort Sensory Space and commissioned its fit-out using images and shapes from the Dún Aonghasa site. We learned that sensory spaces can help focus an individual who is otherwise often distracted and provide persons with lack of environmental stimulation with additional stimulation in a focused and controlled manner. Visually and physically engaging, easily distracted persons within a multi-sensory environment has proven to increase attention span over time. In short the project:

  • Allows both the local and visiting population to be offered opportunities to engage in cultural activity in a meaningful and measurable way.
  • Directly relates the action to provide support to cultural institutions and agencies to carry out programmes with individuals and communities with special needs.
  • Demonstrates how cultural benefits of visiting cultural institutions and agencies are often unused by persons within the special needs sector due to the lack of appropriate support in these buildings.

This project was built on the existing networks and relationships within our community through our collaborative partners on this project.

The space includes 3 sections.

  1. Custom Padded Floor and Wall: The padding on the floor and wall inspired by the grass and stone forts on the Aran Islands. Each section printed with a photo from the Islands. The space surrounded with soft materials and safe for all individuals.
  2. Ceiling Projector and Bubble Tube: A ceiling projector which projects blue sky, inspired by the waves and sea surrounding the Aran Islands. This projector provides consistent yet shifting light which helps individuals to focus. The Bubble Tube adds to the blue hue within the space, engaging the children in auditory and visual senses. There is also an audio playing of waves and birds which adds to the theme of the sensory room, creating an atmosphere of safety and tranquillity.
  3. Ceiling Hanging Feature: There is a hanging feature on the ceiling which allows the individual to lie on the floor and watch the birds/clouds and the shifting light.

Since the launch of the Secret Fort we have received really positive feedback about it from our visitors. It has become a popular spot with children of all ages as it offers a child-centred space where our young visitor can be within the exhibition but a little apart.

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