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Accessibility at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Updated: Feb 27

Hello! Time for my promised post on accessibility at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Firstly, some housekeeping: I work for the DMNS in customer service. I am not in marketing, and I’m writing this post on my own time and any mistakes in it are mine. Secondly, if you ever see me at the museum you are more than welcome to say hi as long as I’m not with a customer!


Now then, on to the post! I am going to break this down into a few sections based on different areas of the museum. I’ve done my best to document all our accessibility features as of February 2020, but we are always working to become more accessible so things may change as time goes on. If you ever have any questions about any of the things mentioned here, ask at the front desk or the information desk. We will be more than happy to help you and will do everything in our power to give you the best experience possible.


OVERALL ACCESSIBILITY


Parking: the museum has plenty of handicap parking in two sections along the front (north side) of the museum, and several spots on the east side by the night IMAX entrance. There are also several spots on each level of the parking garage (which is free), with access to the parking garage elevators from them. You are also welcome to drop people off directly in front of the doors and then go park from there, if that works better for you.

Public Transport: The museum has a bus stop on the east side, but you will have to go around to the north side to enter the museum.


Wheelchairs: We provide free wheelchairs to our guests. You just have to leave your name and phone number. These wheelchairs can be checked out at the information desk across from the gift shop. If you need to send a friend or family member in to get a chair for you and bring it out to your car just have them check in at the ticket-scan and we will happily let them run in to get you a chair. If you use a different assistive walking device and would like to switch to a chair for the day you can check your regular walking device at the information desk and it will be kept safe until you come to swap back.

Strollers: We also provide free strollers if you need one. They are checked out under the same system as wheelchairs.

Elevators: There are elevators throughout the museum. Please be patient with them, though, some are a little slow! There is one located just past the entrance to the gift shop, one across from the Gems & Minerals exhibit, several in the west atrium, and two in Prehistoric Journey to allow access to the tiny extra floor in there. There is also one in IMAX, but it is a special elevator and we’ll get to it more in the IMAX section.

Audio Guides: We recently got some shiny new location based audio guides for people with visual impairments. These take a little more setup, so ask at the information desk for the “EdgGuide” and we’ll help you get things going. They are completely free, but you will need to download an app onto your phone for it to work.

Family Restroom/Brest Feeding Room: The museum now has a family restroom and breast feeding area. It is located just inside the entrance to the Gems & Minerals exhibit to the right. There is an additional family restroom in the Discovery Zone on the second floor, and outside of the temporary exhibits area on Level 3.

Lockers/Coat Check: We provide an area to hang coats just behind the first escalator. There are also small lockers in the same area. If you need a larger locker for something like luggage or anything else larger, ask the security guard in the front lobby and they’ll take you to our larger lockers. Said security guards usually hang out under the T-Rex or over by ticket-scan. If you can’t locate one, ask the ticket scanner and they will locate one for you.


Language: If English is not your first language we do have a fairly diverse staff when it comes to language skills. Some staff members will wear buttons indicating other languages they can speak, but not all. If you would prefer to communicate in another language please feel free to let us know and we’ll do our best to track someone down who speaks that language. It may take a few minutes, and I can’t promise we’ll always be able to find someone, but we’ll do our best!


Evening Hours: The museum has just started offering evening hours every Friday! We are now open until 10pm on Fridays to allow more access to the museum for people who may struggle to visit at other times due to work/life commitments. Admission is the same as day admission, and you can come any time during the day. There is a bar and we also have different fun things going on throughout the museum.

Low Sensory Experiences: The museum has recently started offering low sensory experiences in various parts of the museum. These are usually earlier in the morning, before regular opening, or in the evening after regular closing. Some of them are quieter IMAX films, some are calmer setups in our Discovery Zone for kids, some are specially lit access to the dioramas. The best way to keep up to date with when these are happening is to join the museum newsletter which you can join by going to the DMNS website and clicking on the blue “Stay in Touch” button, or checking our events page.

Braille Maps: We have braille maps available for checkout at the information desk. They need to be returned at the end of your visit.


ASL Interpreters for events: If you need an interpreter for any lecture or event we are holding please call the museum or e-mail guest services at least a week ahead of the event. 303-370-6000 or guestservices@dmns.org.



DAY IMAX


Our IMAX theater gets two sections, as accessibility for day events is a little different from night events, since we use two different entrances. Also, if you need any help/have any questions during the film you can find a host sitting behind the projection booth at the top of the theater. Sometimes we’ll also be in the top couple rows of seats watching the films. We wear blue fleece jackets (or vests), black shirts with a white outline of a square on the front and in the square are a bunch of different languages saying “Welcome," or light blue button up shirts.

Closed Captioning: Many of our IMAX films come with closed captioning, though unfortunately not all. You can ask the ticket taker inside the theater, or ask someone at the front desk. When you come in for your film just let the IMAX ticket scanner know you need closed captioning and we’ll grab you one of our closed captioning stands. They automatically sync up with the film and are adjustable for comfortable viewing.


2D conversion glasses: We offer special glasses that will convert our 3D movies back into 2D for anyone who has issues with 3D movies. Just ask the person handing out glasses for a 2D pair and we’ll give you those instead of the regular 3D ones.


3D glasses: our 3D glasses are designed to fit over regular glasses, so even if you have regular glasses you should still be able to enjoy our 3D films.


Earplugs: If you have issues with the volume of IMAX films we offer earplugs. Just ask the IMAX ticket scanner and they will grab you a pair.


Audio Descriptive Devices: We offer audio descriptive devices for some of our films. Ask the ticket scanner and they will grab you one and get you set up if it is available for your film.


No-Stairs Entrance: The IMAX theater involves a lot of stairs, so if you need an entrance without them here’s how that works! The main entrance to the IMAX is on the second floor, while the accessible/no stairs entrance is on the third floor. You are welcome to go right to the third floor, however we only sell snacks on the second floor so if you want snacks be sure to stop in and grab them first! When entering on the third floor please wait for a Host to escort you into the theater. This is so we can make sure you are properly set up for the film with glasses and anything else you need, and to make sure you aren’t entering while the previous film is still playing.

Accessible seating: Once inside there are a few different areas that you can sit without having to go down any stairs. We have two areas for wheelchairs/scooters and each can it about three chairs/scooters, with two regular seats for companions. We also have a few extra regular chairs that we can bring up for other people in your group, but please note that wheelchairs/scooters have to have priority in those areas. There is also a row on either side of the theater that is below the wheelchair area, but not down any stairs. Everyone is welcome to use these, but if you are transferring out of your chair/scooter to use these we have to have you park your chair/scooter behind the projection booth due to fire code not allowing anything to be in the aisles. Lastly, you are welcome to go sit elsewhere in the theater, but please know you will have to go back up the stairs to exit.

Larger Chairs: If our chairs are too small for you we do have two larger regular chairs that can be moved into the wheelchair seating area for you to use, but please note that wheelchairs have priority in that area. Ask a host and we can grab one of these chairs for you.


Night IMAX


Closed Captioning: Same as the day IMAX.


2D Conversion Glasses: Same as the day IMAX.


3D Glasses: Same as the day IMAX.


Earplugs: Same as the day IMAX.


Audio Descriptive Devices: same as the day IMAX.


No-Stairs entrance/exit: Here’s where things get a little different! Firstly, if you are at a 5 o’clock showing of one of our films (and it is not Friday) you will be exiting out the east side of the museum, rather than the north side where you came in. The only way to exit without stairs is to take our IMAX elevator down. However, to take our IMAX elevator down you have to be escorted by a host. The reason for this is that the elevator is a little funky. Not in a “it doesn’t function” way, just that it is programmed to have the lights off part of the time so it won’t disturb anyone if used during the show, so if you don’t know how to use it you’ll just be stuck in a dark box. Also, it is a security point so we have to keep it locked a lot of the time, and sometimes it gets locked in places it doesn’t belong so we have to go hunt it down and unlock it to bring it up to the theater.

If you are coming to an evening show at IMAX, such as our weekend showings of various Hollywood films or our 6 o’clock showings of our shorter IMAX films that we also show during the day, you will be entering on the museum on the EAST side rather than the north side. We have the elevator unlocked during this time, and you can come right on in through it. The lights won’t turn off on you and you don’t need an escort for this part! Just go to the right of the east entrance doors and you’ll see another door to a little vestibule with the elevator. Take it to the lobby and get your tickets scanned and buy your snacks, then let a host know and we’ll take you up into the theater proper. The exiting procedure is the same as mentioned above: you will need a host to take you down.


Accessible seating: same as the day IMAX.


Larger Chairs: same as the day IMAX.

Planetarium

Accessible Seating: The top row of the planetarium has room for roughly six wheelchairs/scooters, and six regular seats for guests or anyone who can’t use the stairs. You are also welcome to sit down in the lower rows, but please know you will have to exit back up the stairs.


Earplugs: We also offer earplugs if the volume is a bit much for you. Ask a host and we will get you a pair.


Larger Chairs: If our chairs are too small for you we do have two larger regular chairs that can be moved into the wheelchair seating area for you to use, but please note that wheelchairs have priority in that area. Ask a host and we can grab one of these chairs for you.


Virtual Reality


Currently, our virtual reality arcade offers three types of experiences. Please note that some of these are more vertigo inducing than others. The first is our Virtual Reality Transporter which involves sitting on a platform with four seats and wearing a virtual reality headset as the platform moves in time with the simulation you are watching. You are buckled in, and there is a bar in front of you for you to hold onto, and each simulation lasts about five minutes. The second is our game bays. We have twelve games to choose from including popular ones like Beat Saber and Job Simulator. Some are more intense, game based, and more likely to cause vertigo, others are more laid back and exploration based. You get ten minutes to play. Third, we have Birdly. Birdly involves laying on your stomach on a table with wings while wearing a virtual reality headset. You then get to fly around as a dinosaur for three minutes.

Glasses: Two of our three experiences allow you to wear glasses while wearing the headsets. You can wear them while doing Birdly, or while playing in the game bays. Unfortunately, you can’t wear them on the Virtual Reality Transporter as it uses a different type of headset that is not designed for them. For many people the fact that the headset sits right in front of your eyes negates most vision issues, but not always. If you are worried about how well you will be able to see on the transporter without your glasses ask one of the hosts if you can peek in a headset before you buy your tickets so you can see if it will be worth it for you. Once you put the headset on you can also wiggle it around a bit to make sure it is sitting right to give you the best possible focus, and they have a little slider on the bottom that you can move to focus things as well.


Wheelchair accessibility: For Birdly if you can comfortably get up on the platform without assistance then you can ride Birdly. You will have to park your chair in the corner or outside the Birdly enclosure. For the games you are welcome to stay in your chair, but please realize that many of the games require moving around and you will also be holding a controller in each hand so your ability to easily move your chair may be limited. Of our current offerings the games that require the least moving around are The Blu, Beat Saber, Nature Treks, and Google Earth. Our games change sometimes though, so feel free to ask a host about the level of movement in each game. For the transporter we have two options. Firstly, if you can get up onto the platform on your own or with the help of someone in your group then you are more than welcome to ride on the platform, however a host cannot be the one to help you up. Also, please note that your chair will not be able to remain in the enclosure during the ride as there is not room, so you will have to have someone in your group move it back out for you or be comfortable with having a host move it. The second option is our non-platform headset. This headset allows you to remain in your chair and watch the same simulation without the movement of the platform.



Whew! This ended up a bit longer than I thought it would! Again, if you have any questions please feel free to ask them at the front desk or the information desk, or ask anyone in a blue fleece vest/jacket or in our black Welcome shirts.


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