Breathing Room


New Installation at The New Children’s Museum

The New Children’s Museum is encouraging children and families to “pause and take a deep breath.” The arts-based children’s museum commissioned Oceanside-based artist Michelle Montjoy for Breathing Room, a new installation that provides a calm respite in an otherwise highly interactive environment.

Breathing Room is a quiet space on the Museum’s main level that welcomes visitors with calming blue, grey and white colors and hanging textile sculptures that gently move up and down. The rhythmic movement of the soft, hand-knitted elements replicates breathing cycles, allowing visitors to slow down and relax.

“It has been deeply moving to work with The New Children’s Museum to make this warm and welcoming space,” said artist Michelle Montjoy, who has been at the Museum regularly since the initial opening in June. “With the mesmerizing movement overhead, soothing colors, soft pillows and comfortable spots to cozy up in, Breathing Room gives visitors a chance to lie on their backs, take a pause and just breathe.”

As part of the creative process, Montjoy and the Museum have been observing how visitors engage in the space which has led to modifications and improvements as well as helped inform the elements for the next phase. In addition to dimmed lighting and a soft oversized crocheted rug, the artist has made numerous Hugs – oversized, stuffed sweater forms with weighted arms that offer a comforting embrace. Wall-hung Hugs are a chance to be held, while Hugs on the floor offer an opportunity to lie down and look up at the moving sculptures overhead.

Montjoy also considered that some children might want a small space and created Pods – organic knitted forms one can climb into, read a book or take a calming break. Additional opportunities for calming comfort and a sense of security include sound-cancelling headphones, soft flooring, a variety of seating and a basket of children’s books with calming themes.

“The New Children’s Museum has an opportunity as the world evolves post-pandemic to further establish itself as a place of creativity, play and comprehensive learning for all audiences,” Elizabeth Yang-Hellewell, Executive Director and CEO shared with GB Magazine. “We are seeing a much greater need for safe, welcoming, sensory supportive spaces for children and adults. Breathing Room is an important installation that supports a diverse array of sensory preferences and needs.”

To complement the intent of Breathing Room, the Museum is creating a “Sensory Guide” with Xenia Sholl from Sensory Friendly San Diego. The guide will help guests with neurodiversity, autism and other special needs navigate the Museum and locate spaces and services best suited for the experience they are looking for.

The New Children’s Museum is now open six days a week (closed on Tuesdays). For more information visit

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Esteban Villanueva