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Autism Review: Worlds of Wonder

Next in the series of the autism review will be a review of the accessibility of the World Museum in Liverpool, most specifically the Worlds of Wonder exhibition which is currently on until October. At this point it is worth noting that the worlds of Wonder exhibition does have specific autism friendly days but due to my own availability this was the best day for me to be able to visit so I did not visit on a day when it was specifically autism-friendly.

Before your visit

The first thing I noticed is that the website is not particularly user-friendly especially on a mobile which was where I tried to find my information. Trying to find the accessibility information is extremely difficult but is available here:

It does have a specific section for visitors who are autistic and does actually mention adults as well as children. The access information available includes:

  • A visual story,

  • Mentions that there is a café,

  • Explains about the information desk,

  • Information about the toilets,

  • And accessible parking.

It is worth noting that this particular exhibition is a paid-for exhibition and it is recommended that you book your tickets in advance. One of the biggest positives for accessibility that I found for this particular visit was the Disabled person tickets that also came with a free carer ticket. This was the first time I've been able to do purchase this ticket as every other museum I tried required so much proof of disability that I became overwhelmed and wasn't able to do it. The World Museum did not require this which made booking a ticket far more accessible.

During your visit

Upon arrival it was really unclear as to where you were supposed to go due to conflicting signage around the ticket desk, where the exhibition was and a lack of signage around where the toilets were. After queueing up a member of staff did explain clearly where we were supposed to be and where the toilets were located.

A member of staff provided a clear warm welcome at the entrance to the exhibition and explained what would happen once you went into the exhibition and how long you could spend within the exhibition.

Once inside the lighting levels were quite low so it wasn't a bright over stimulating environment. However the exception to this was the interpretation panels to explain the different props and sets that were on display as they were backlit with a very bright light, which made it quite difficult to actually read the text. Due to the low-level lighting throughout it did mean that when you exited the exhibition it did take a while for your own eyes to adjust to the lighting levels so signage would be beneficial to prepare visitors for this.

As you would expect with an exhibition that focuses on Dr Who, there was the Doctor Who theme tune playing throughout. This wasn't on a particularly high volume. There was one section of the exhibition where visitors were encouraged to use software to make them sound like a Dalek, however the unknowns around this made me feel quite anxious as to how it would work and how loud it would be. Whilst I was there somebody did you use this particular software and it was extremely loud so I would recommend having some form of headphones so that the sound of this doesn't travel around the rest of the exhibition.

Although I didn't go on a day that was specifically autism friendly the exhibition wasn't too busy so it wasn't overcrowded. It was easy to go up to each thing that you wanted to see and without being surrounded by people. I visited in one of the morning slots which made a lot of difference due to this being a quiet time within the museum anyway.

The exhibition followed a one-way system which was clear to follow which meant that you were unable to miss anything that you wanted to see exhibition. The exhibition was in different stages which were all introduced by Mark Gatiss via Video which helps to create a clear transition and links all the elements together almost in chronological order which made the exhibition clear to follow.

There were different ways of interacting with screens with different games or fact finding to use. Some of these were not particularly well explained so it wasn’t clear what you were supposed to do so I think this interpretation did need to be made clearer as to what the purpose was, what the aim was, to encourage more people to use them. There wasn't much of a tactile element to the exhibition, which was understandable due to a lot of the props and sets that were on display being originals which obviously didn't want to be damaged. Some more tactile elements would have improved the accessibility of the exhibition as a whole. Once we had left the exhibition, we did attempt to find something to eat in the cafe at the World Museum but the cafe itself was very busy and very loud. There was also no clear menu as to what was on offer that day, this was a huge barrier for me personally as I need to know that there is something that I will be able to eat on the menu due the number of sensory needs I have with food. Due to the lack of information around what was available we were not able to eat in the cafe. The Worlds of Wonder exhibition is only on until October 2022 but is well worth going to see for any Doctor Who fan. Whilst not fully accessible, which we know doesn't exist anyway, the World Museum and especially the Worlds of Wonder exhibition was quite an accessible experience. With just a few changes for autistic visitors this could be a more accessible visit on all days, not just autism friendly days.

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