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A New Approach to Sunday Mornings

Dimmed lights, silence, and the gentleness in the atmosphere is nothing but a mood for a Sunday morning. Cup of coffee in hand or not, this Sensory-Friendly program at the Museum of Contemporary Art will relax you in a way you didn’t know was possible.  

“Sensory-Friendly Mornings is indeed a new offering that reflects the museum’s ongoing commitment to creating accessible entry points to the work of artists and of the museum,” said Katy O’Malley, the Media Relations manager at MCA in Chicago. The program serves a great advantage to neuro sensitive individuals that struggle with very bright lightening or loud crowds and music within certain museum settings. 

“The MCA brings communities together to experience the art and cultural issues of today; Chicago’s neurodiverse community is a vital part of that conversation,” O’Malley said. MCA believes it is their responsibility to provide a welcoming space for the comfort, wants, and needs for this community.  

There were 64 reservations for one of the last Sensory-Friendly Mornings back in September 2021. The next upcoming Sensory-Friendly Morning presentations will be offered on March 27 and June 26, 2022. This is the fourth iteration of this program and before the COVID-19 shutdown, MCA has offered many other types of relaxed performances in their theater program.  

This program was created by Matti Allison, the associate director of Visitor Experience and head of accessibility initiatives. “We are a museum for everyone, and some of our guests feel uncomfortable in our typical museum environment due to crowds or sensory overload, Allison said. To put it a little differently, we need everyone who wants to be at the MCA to be here, or we aren’t fulfilling our mission,.”  

If you have never attended the Museum of Contemporary Art, each floor holds its own art exhibit and its own type of art gallery by multiple different artists. The second floor holds a center called “The Commons” where people can take a break if they need to from the videos with light and overlapping sound. The daylight peers into most open area rooms where artificial light isn’t needed. Flash photography isn’t allowed for the respect of the guests. Other types of assistance are also offered for visitors with various disabilities. Assistance such as live-captioning for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

Chloe McMullen is the front door greeter to help you navigate the museum and inform you of theater events.  McMullen has two siblings who are on the autism spectrum and was happy to have a program like this to offer to the neurodiverse community.  

This Sunday was McMullen’s first time working a Sensory-Friendly Morning. She said she hopes the program is advertised more in the future. There was only one post on MCA’s Instagram social media page regarding the neurodiverse event. And not much content captioning the Instagram post. 

A father who had brought his two small sons to the museum to enjoy the quiet morning offering, said he and his family appreciate the program for his little ones. Sensory- Friendly Mornings are offered every quarterly Sunday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. To purchase tickets and view upcoming events including the next Sensory-Friendly Mornings, visit 

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