SOLOMONS, Md. – Since 2011, Calvert Marine Museum has hosted their annual Night at the Museum for Friends with Disabilities.
On May 12, 2023, from 5 to 7 pm, the museum hosted a group of roughly 115 people filled with friends with special needs along with their friends and families for absolutely free.
The night was filled with fun activities such as a visit to the skates and rays tank, searching for shark teeth (which they could take home), a cruise around the Wm. B. Tennison, looked at and touched fossils at a table hosted by members of the museum’s Fossil Club, and so much more that the museum had to offer!
The museum even introduced their newest family member, Poppie the Opossum to the group!
Kathleen Porecki, the Museum’s Office Specialist I and the event coordinator for Night at the Museum, explained how the event started, and it all began with a story about her son who has autism himself.
“I am a staff member at CMM and my son, who has autism, was featured in a local newspaper in a photo with his dad while attending a special movie viewing for people with Autism at the Prince Frederick movie theater, an event held in cooperation with Calvert County Parks and Recreation – Therapeutic Recreation Services,” Porecki told TheBayNet.com. “Then, Museum Director Doug Alves and Deputy Director Sherrod Sturrock approached me and asked if I thought we could do something similar at the museum and would I be interested in creating an event, to which I replied an enthusiastic ‘yes!’ I reached out to Joy Weir of Therapeutic Recreation Services and, together with CMM staff’s input, we created Special Needs Night, which we later renamed Night at the Museum for Friends with Disabilities.”
Porecki believes that this event is important because it allows them to take in the wonders of the museum at their own pace.
“The Calvert Marine Museum is a perfect place to capture everyone’s attention and offers an opportunity to interact with all of your senses while moving through the exhibits at your own pace,” Porecki explained. “With so many fascinating animals to watch, fossils to see and touch, interesting facts to read and sounds to hear – like the Megalodon or the information buttons located in many exhibits, there is something to inspire the imagination and promote learning in everyone. Our goal is to provide this experience to people and families who don’t always feel comfortable going out to museums or other venues, and introduce them to the museum as an accessible place that is close by, where they can visit any day throughout the year. It also serves as a social outing where our guests will run into friends and make new ones.”
“It’s one of my favorite CMM events and I look forward to attending with my son. We see friends – old and new, run into teachers and people who have supported and helped my son learn and grow over the years, and it’s a carefree social outing. I also enjoy watching new families take in and enjoy the museum and all it has to offer for the first time, as well as returning guests who put this event on their calendar as a biannual family outing. Seeing everyone relaxed and enjoying themselves, learning new things, enjoying the beauty of our surroundings, and observing people connect to their community is a feeling I will never get enough of,” Porecki concluded.
The event is held twice a year with one event in the spring, and another in the fall. The next Night at the Museum is set to take place on Friday, September 8, from 5 to 7 p.m.
“Spread the word! CMM is a Southern Maryland gem and welcomes guests and families every day of the week. Come and see for yourself what makes CMM a magical place to visit… for everyone,” says Porecki.
For more information on any of the upcoming events taking place at the Calvert Marine Museum, stay tuned to their website for any updates.
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