Sunday, May 8, 2011

Meet Me- Art Appreciation for Individuals with Dementia

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The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC is all about access to modern and contemporary art. The museum's education department has an extensive Access Program that provides art programming to over ten thousand individuals a year with emotional, developmental behavioral, learning, or physical disabilities. They have also developed a program specifically for those living with Alzheimer's disease that offers art experiences such as discussion and observation of the work in their collection. This program focuses primarily on early and middle stages of the disease and is lead by specially trained museum staff/educators. The MoMA Alzheimer's Project is an extension of their in-house program that provides resources, education, workshops, and assistance to museums, assisted-living facilities, and other organizations within communities that serve individuals with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. Several museums through out the country have developed similar programs.

moma outside
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I know that for many of our folks, art is something that other people do. Art is, to many, mysterious and beyond their understanding. And modern art? Well, who even gets that, right? But modern art includes works that are very familiar to most of our folks. Who knew that Vincent Van Gough's Starry Night was "modern"? So maybe use the resources at MoMA's Meet Me site and start with familiar paintings that won't "scare off" our residents.

File:Van Gogh - Starry Night - Google Art Project.jpg
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I've posted one of the videos below from the MoMA/Meet Me website. This site is really incredible. They provide step-by-step assistance and resources for setting up a program, even artwork and education modules. They even provide information and videos on interacting with participants and conducting each session. You don't have to be an art history major to do this. I'm going to be spending a good bit of time on their site, combing over their resources and working towards getting something similar set up in my facility. I like Francesca Rosenberg's comments about how a local museum with the vision and maybe even only one dedicated person can develop this program. I also like the comments by the couple toward the end of the video who talk about how they use the give-aways at home.

Cool, huh? So go check out their website. Give yourself plenty of time to snoop around. I just think this is a very exciting way to give voice and encourage interaction to those folks in our facilities who are living with Alzheimer's. Maybe you have a nice local museum that would be willing to work with you on something similar. Maybe a local college has students in their art department in need of projects, maybe even a grad student who needs a doctoral thesis!

It's so exciting to see the creative and tender ways that caring, interested people are reaching out to out elders living with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.

We'll take a look in a later post at some easy suggestion for introducing an art appreciation program into your facility, especially if your population might feel a bit intimidated by "ART."

Have you tried something similar in your facility or had an experience with a resident who found their voice through art? I would for you to share.

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