About me

close up head and shoulders photo of Sam Bowen and her daughter Lucy, both white females with long blonde hair, wearing matching mustard colour hoody tops. They smile at the camera

Welcome, I’m the founder of www.sendinmuseums.org and an award-winning inclusion campaigner in museums.

I’ve worked in the sector for over 25 years as a Curator, Learning Manager and Museum Development Officer. I am also a SEND mum, my daughter Lucy has Special Educational Needs and Disability. In a Ven diagram of Museums and SEND, I sit comfortably in the middle!

Before becoming a parent, my understanding of access in museums was limited to ramps, large text and feely bags. I say this because, back then, there simply wasn’t any guidance around SEND inclusion but I now know how easily achievable this can be within your museum.

You don’t need to become an expert on this subject, the children, young people, their families and teachers are the experts, but you know your museums, their collections and the wonderful stories they tell. Where I can help is to inspire and support you in developing the tools – be that programming, interpretation, resources and business strategies to become more accessible to the 9% of the UK child population who are SEND.

Add their siblings to that number and SEND access needs affect nearly a 5th of the UK’s children and young people. When you make your venue welcoming and accessible to them, you have also automatically made a huge positive impact on disability and neurodivergent visitors of all ages.

My own work has been shaped by visiting museums and galleries with my daughter and facing inaccessibility, it feels awful! Not being able to physically access an activity, display or service is frustrating and upsetting. Witnessing non-disabled children experience museums with the same glee you wish for your child, and know to be possible, is heartbreaking. It’s why so many SEND families do not see museums as being for them, but if you build it, they will come. All children deserve the same access to cultural enrichment and have the legal right to it too.

I am passionate about museums, galleries and heritage spaces and the joy and wonder they can bring to a wide range of visitors, so I enjoy helping organisations share this in an accessible way. This website details the different areas I freelance in and has testimonials from some of the people I have already worked with.

Please do get in contact with me to discuss how we can work together to make positive impact in your organisation for SEND and ‘Be the Change’ for our sector needs.