Engagement with Art and Objects

Engagement with art and museum collections can have significant benefits for people living with dementia. This is true whether the experience involves looking at and discussing art and objects, or creating art or other hands-on expressions of their ideas and interests. Museum objects can be used as a vehicle for meaningful self-expression. Indeed, engagement with these objects, through close looking, discussion, and hands-on response offers a person with dementia the chance to:

  • Explore and exchange ideas about art, objects, artists, periods of history, natural history
  • Experience intellectual stimulation and the enjoyment of learning activities
  • Make connections between personal stories and the world at large
  • Access personal experiences and long-term memories
  • Participate in a meaningful activity that fosters personal growth
Artful Moments - Wearing conservator’s gloves, participants have a tactile experience of a bronze portrait bust, Frank Panabaker by Elizabeth Holbrook Bradford, 1959.
Wearing conservator’s gloves, participants have a tactile experience of a bronze portrait bust, Frank Panabaker by Elizabeth Holbrook Bradford, 1959.

In addition, there are positive benefits for friends and family members who participate or accompany the participant. They experience their loved one engaging, expressing themselves, and enjoying experiences in a safe, comfortable environment. They see their loved one as a whole person with lived experiences, creativity, talent and ideas. Their relationship, which may be centred on offering care and support, can shift, at least for a short time, to an equal partnership. As well, they can experience and appreciate the experience themselves, and socialize with others.  

A growing body of research is confirming the anecdotal evidence that the arts can improve quality of life, reduce stress, and allow people to better connect to the world. By offering programs like Artful Moments, your museum can be part of this experience.

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