The challenges of adapting our museum for relaxed sessions. Gladstone’s Land, Edinburgh. Nov, 2019.

At Gladstone’s Land we are very happy to announce that we will be starting new relaxed sessions for visiting us very soon. We are a National Trust for Scotland property in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town and our building is one of the oldest on Edinburgh’s most famous street: the Royal Mile.

Our house is a lovely example of how wealthy people used to live in Scotland back in the 1600s and perhaps one of the best things you can see during a visit is the painted ceilings we still have. They were painted around 1620 and have been preserved since then.

Edinburgh is known for its cultural attractions open all year round and as part of a cultural organisation we want to make our museum more accessible for everyone to enjoy and learn a bit more about our heritage.

We have been working on different projects to make our house more accessible to all kinds of visitors, from translating our information into different languages, to having larger prints of our room cards available for people with sight problems. We also wanted to make it more accessible for visitors with special needs such as Autism so we started thinking of how we could do it. Of course, it wouldn’t be as easy as we thought in the beginning! Being in such a great location there were some problems we had to confront. Sometimes, our museum gets very busy, especially during school holidays, and as an old building, most of our rooms are quite small and dark.

Apart from that, if you have been to Edinburgh and have had a walk around the Royal Mile you might have noticed the presence of hundreds of people, lots of traffic and of course, various musicians and bagpipers playing for everyone to enjoy their music. Again, we are in an old building and don’t have the best insulation to prevent the noise from outside coming in. How could we then help our visitors have a positive experience during the relaxed sessions?

Well, we thought of preparing some special packs to give our visitors on their arrival. These packs contain some items that might come in useful during the visit. A pair of ear defenders, – we tried them and they really help to muffle the bagpipe music! – a sensory toy and an “I need help” card that can be handed to any of our members of staff in case it’s needed. We also provide a one-page schedule of the tour of the house with images that explain what happens next, and some other sheets with visual information to help understand how the tour will continue throughout the visit.

We have prepared a presentation with pre-visit information that will soon be on our website and social media pages, so please feel free to have a look if you are planning to visit us. We will soon be in touch to confirm the dates for these relaxed sessions.

You can find us on or on our social media, Facebook: Gladstone’s Land. Twitter and Instagram: @gladstonesland.

We are all very excited about this new challenge and cannot wait to show you all around!

See you soon!

Alicia Sancho – Senior Visitor Services Assistant at Gladstone’s Land, National Trust for Scotland.

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