The Museum strives to be accessible for everyone.
Our interactive science park is designed with barrier-free exhibit experiences, fifteen accessible parking spaces, accessible restrooms, and a spot on our train that accommodates one wheelchair at a time.
Service Animals and Pets
Personal Care Attendant
Resources for Visually Impaired
Resources for Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Challenges
Medical and Emergency Assistance
Portable Automatic Eternal Defibrillators (AED)
Have additional needs or questions?
Free parking is available in our main lot and overflow lot. Seven spaces in the main lot, four spaces in the overflow lot and two spaces adjacent to the picnic dome are designated for visitors with mobility needs.
Visitor drop-off and pick-up is permitted at the Museum’s main entrance.
All entry and exit doorways to and from the main building, as well as the Butterfly House and Insectarium, are automated.
Service animals are welcome at the Museum. Upon arrival, please inform the Admissions Desk if a service animal will accompany you.
Non-service animals are not allowed on Museum grounds.
North Carolina state law prohibits owners from leaving dogs and other pets unattended in a vehicle or in other under conditions that are likely to cause suffering, injury or death due to heat. Animal Control will be called if pets are noticed to be left unattended on Museum grounds and deemed to be in unsafe conditions.
The Museum has five manual wheelchairs for loan on a first-come, first-served basis. Wheelchairs are available at the Admissions Desk in the main lobby. Visitors must leave a form of ID as a deposit.
Elevators provide access to the second floor exhibits and classrooms in the Museum’s main building and to the top floor of the Butterfly House for private educational programs and events.
Our campus includes eighty-four acres of indoor and outdoor exhibits. If you need transportation assistance at any time, please ask a staff member for help.
The Museum’s outdoor pathways, including those in Hideaway Woods, are accessible and meet ADA guidelines.
The Ellerbe Creek Railway locomotive can accommodate one wheelchair per train ride. Tickets are available daily on a first-come, first-serve basis at the Admissions Desk. Click here for more details.
Admission is complimentary for a Personal Care Attendant when accompanying guests with disabilities. This courtesy is extended to interpreters attending with sight or hearing impaired visitors.
The Museum offers audio descriptive labels at each of our maps and outdoor interactives in Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind. Our indoor galleries offer a variety of touch and audio-focused interactives. Please ask at the Admissions Desk or call (919) 220-5429 for more information in advance of your visit.
Through a special partnership with UNC TEACCH Autism Program, the Museum offers resources designed for guests on the autism spectrum, their families, and caregivers. Visitors who have similar social-communication challenges, or even typically developing guests, may also find these resources helpful.
A social narrative clarifies expectations and helps prepare you for your visit. These stories are especially helpful when read in advance of your arrival. Download and print a hard copy or view on a smart phone or tablet. Hard copies also available at the Admissions Desk or through a Museum staff member.
- Going to the Museum
- Going to the Butterfly House and Insectarium
- Riding the Train
- Taking a Break
- Riding on the Santa Train
Visual schedules are picture cards that can be sequenced to show the order of exhibits and activities you want to visit. Download, print and cut out a hard copy or view on a smart phone or tablet. Visual schedules also available at the Admissions Desk or through a Museum Staff Member.
Activity systems use pictures to clarify “what I will be doing, how much I will be doing, and when I am finished with a particular activity.” These systems are available to download and print and are available for the following exhibit areas:
- Carolina Wildlife
- Play to Learn
- Riding the Train
- Butterfly House and Insectarium
- Dinosaur Trail
- Explore the Wild
- Catch the Wind
- Riding the Santa Train
Other Visual Supports available for download or at the Admissions Desk include:
Transitioning between exhibits at the Museum can be difficult, especially activities like Hideaway Woods, which has no clear ending. Consider clarifying how long you will stay in Hideaway Woods by using a visual timer or visual countdown. Using a schedule and putting another exciting activity afterward may also help your family member transition more easily.
Sensory Friendly Map and Tools
This special map locates areas at the Museum that may have strong smells or offer quiet relaxation (Cool Down areas). Noise-canceling headphones and sun glasses are also available to borrow at the Admissions Desk. Visitors must leave a form of ID as a deposit.
Cool Down Areas and Kits
Cool down kits are available at Group Check-In (south side), the main building, Train Station, and the Butterfly House. If you need one, ask a staff member for assistance. Each kit offers relaxation strategies including deep breathing and sensory toys for muscle relaxation. These kits can be returned to any staff member or can be dropped off at the Admissions Desk on your way out.
Accessible restrooms are available on our Southside campus, in the main building, Butterfly House, Café Plaza, and in Hideaway Woods, Explore the Wild and Catch the Wind.
There are two single-occupant restrooms on the second floor of the main building next to The Lab in Investigate Health. Everyone is welcome to use the restroom they feel comfortable using. Changing tables are available in all of our restrooms.
Designated Caregiver Areas offer semi-private nursing locations as well as a quiet place to rest—away from the main exhibit floor. Caregiver icons on the Museum map show these locations.
A private nursing/caregiving room is available on the second floor of the main building. This quiet, enclosed space accommodates one family at a time and features low-lighting, comfortable seating, and changing amenities.
Sprout Café, Elements Coffee Bar, and Southern Harvest Mobile Kitchen can accommodate guests with food-related allergies.
While we do not use peanuts or peanut oil in the preparation of our menu items, we are not a ‘nut free’ campus. Please note that we feed some of our animals peanuts and other nuts as part of their normal diet.
Upon request, some menu items can be made without gluten, dairy, or eggs.
Allergy information from the packages of every food product used in Sprout Café is available for review by guests upon request.
People with severe allergies should alert staff when placing a food order.
Guests may also call in advance of a visit to request food preparation in a separately sanitized area away from other food.
You can view our Sprout Café menu here.
Members of the Museum staff are trained in basic first aid; staff are not medically trained. First aid kits are available throughout campus. Please see the nearest staff member for assistance. Common over-the-counter medicines are available for purchase in the Elements Museum Store.
For medical and emergency assistance, find the nearest staff member and dial 911.
Two Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) are located on campus. Members of the Museum staff are trained on their use.
Please contact us or call (919) 220-5429 during business hours Monday through Friday to speak with Museum staff.