Heritage Museums & Gardens has received a $225,000 grant for the creation of a Five Senses Garden, which will provide universal access and programs for those with a range of physical and mental disabilities. The grant, part of the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, must be matched one-to-one.

“Heritage is deeply grateful to Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for this award,” said Ellen Spear, President and CEO of Heritage Museums & Gardens. “Heritage is committed to providing access for all to enjoy the gardens and exhibits, and to fully engage in outdoor exploration and discovery. The Five Senses Garden will provide a dramatic welcoming and stimulating environment for visitors of all ages and abilities.”

Set within a beautiful natural setting and linked to the surrounding gardens, the Garden for the Five Senses welcomes everyone regardless of their ability. Sensitive to the discrete needs of each visitor, the fully accessible design offers varying levels of sensory experience: tactile, auditory, visual, olfactory and gustatory. Through careful detailing and programming, the garden also offers a range of therapeutic attributes, enhancing range of motion, vestibular, motor planning, proprioception and cognitive skills.

David Kamp, FASLA, LF, NA and principal in charge of design for Dirtworks, PC, believes that nature is essential for human health, development and well-being. “We are proud to be part of the team for the Five Senses Garden in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Garden not only honors Heritage’s core mission, but it also provides the opportunity for everyone to engage with nature on their own terms in their own way and at their own pace,” stated Kamp.

Heritage’s Five Senses Garden will guide visitors along a newly created trail that follows a broad loop around and behind the Old East Windmill, in areas less frequented by visitors. Along the gently meandering path, which will be wheelchair accessible and consist of mixed surfaces that provide visual and tactile cues, water features will appeal to the senses of sound and touch. Existing stone walls will be incorporated within the gardens and provide natural tactile experiences. Plants in raised beds and containers will create intimate and accessible garden spaces for visitors to gather and soak up the beauty of the areas. Majestic trees along the pathway, combined with new plantings, will capture the sound of the wind and provide auditory stimulation through the rustling of leaves.

Interactive elements within the Five Senses Garden will be designed to fully engage people of all abilities through sensory-stimulating experiences that aid in learning, motor and cognitive development, and memory-awakening.

Heritage is open daily, 10 am-5 pm, through October 9. Tickets are available online at heritagemuseums.org or by calling 508-888-3300. Heritage is grateful for the support of the 2017 lead sponsor, Arbella Insurance Foundation.