Staff Spotlight: Michelle Carlson, Education Director

Since 2017, Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center Education Director Michelle Carlson has worked to improve the Lansing community through access to the arts. Most recently, she initiated partnerships with both Impression 5 Science Center and the Peckham Art Alliance to offer accessible and sensory-friendly programming.

Sensory-friendly programming limits the number of guests and reduces other factors that may cause stress or discomfort to participants. It often includes sensory rooms and quiet spaces with select exhibits altered to reduce sounds, scents, and lighting stimuli.

The Peckham Art Alliance is Michelle’s latest endeavor. Located in Lansing, Peckham is a nonprofit community vocational rehabilitation organization. The Art Alliance program invites participating artists from Peckham to learn from professional artists within the setting of Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center. In addition to arts classes that build skills, participants also attend receptions for current exhibitions at the Gallery. This combination of arts education and creative engagement benefit the participants personally and vocationally.

Michelle says, “Peckham artists had a discussion about ‘Lift Off’ by Megan Hildebrandt. On the surface, it’s a person with flowers- but when we began to discuss how the art piece made us feel, what we thought about when we look at it, a variety of different themes emerged. They started looking below the surface of the work- is it a person lying down? Flying? Swimming? Are they in a black hole? It was thoughtful discussion, and the artists were so engaged.”

Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center also recently partnered with Impression 5 Science Center in their mission to provide sensory-friendly STEAM programming. In addition to their regular open hours, Impression 5 is now opening for special hours dedicated to creating an environment that is comfortable and safe for all families. Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center provides a professional artist and hands-on activity for a selection of these sessions.

Michelle says, “It is a wonderful experience to be able to offer programming to families that need sensory-friendly experiences that they would not otherwise be able to experience.”

If you’re interested in participating in an Impression 5 Science Center Sensory-Friendly Hours with Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center, reach out to Michelle at!

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