About Artful Moments

Our Story

Artful Moments is a program created by the Art Gallery of Hamilton that provides meaningful, individualized, and engaging activities using our collections and exhibitions that encourage participants to be creative, to express themselves and to connect with others through shared experiences. Our focus is on enhancing the strengths and abilities of the participant, regardless of their abilities, state of health or social circumstance, while presenting activities at a level of engagement and rigour expected of gallery and museum programming. We focus on the process and the experience rather than a final product or demonstration of learning.

Combining specialized strategies for dementia care with creative activities, the program explores how these experiences can help to open up a world of in-the-moment engagement and enjoyment for the participants with dementia, while providing opportunities for social connection and shared experience with loved ones and peers.

From this experience, Artful Moments: Shared Learning was created; the culmination of our own experiences and learning over time, presenting the key information and ideas that we have found most successful.

Artful Moments provides responsive, meaningful, individualized engagement that focuses on strengths and abilities.  The program works by:

  • Using museum collections and exhibitions to provide meaningful content. 
  • Emphasizing adaptation over reinvention of museum activities and resources.
  • Prioritizing the experience in the moment and social connection at every stage of dementia or level of ability.
  • Standing on a framework of knowledge of dementia and the best practices to achieve success.
  • Being supported by research, experience and shared expertise

Founded in 1914, the Art Gallery of Hamilton is the oldest and largest art museum in Southern Ontario, with a permanent collection of over 10,000 objects, recognized as one of the finest in Canada.  The Collection comprises Historical Canadian and European Art and Contemporary Art and in recent years has focused on collecting work by Indigenous and women artists.  The exhibition program balances travelling exhibitions and work from the Collection, often placing works from different times and places together to inspire a critical conversation.

In the past decade, the AGH has delivered a public program focused on the power of visual art and exhibitions to enrich social connection, particularly when paired with experiential and creative learning.   We have had particular success developing programs to address specific wellness needs and communities using the arts to support people’s social, emotional and physical wellbeing in meaningful ways, regardless of abilities, circumstances, or prior experiences with art.

Artful Moments’ core value is the sharing of knowledge. This has been with us since the beginning. Together we have combined our skills, passions, and areas of expertise to develop a program that embraces the social and wellbeing potential of museums along with the rigour expected from museum programs.

 Artful Moments is guided by extensive knowledge and best practices in dementia care. We continue to learn from each other and collaborate on a program that we love. We are so pleased to share our experiences with you.

Introducing Learning Modules

Artful Moments - What is cognition – A woman looks at paintings in an art gallery.

Module 1: Dementia and Museums

Understand the philosophy and impact of Artful Moments, as well as how to use this website to develop your own program.

Artful Moments - A participant draws a self-portrait during a hands-on class.

Module 2: Understanding the Participant

Understand the impact of dementia on a person and how the changes in the brain that are caused by dementia can affect their participation in an Artful Moments-style program.

Artful Moments - A group of participants compare two paintings, Bud by Marion Dale Scott, 1939 and Transitions I (self portrait) by Christina Sealey, 2001.

Module 3: Understanding Environment

Learn how to apply your knowledge of dementia to create a program environment that maximizes the safety, accessibility, and comfort of your participants and facilitators in order to promote engagement and wellbeing.

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