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. Once we have met the needs of the participants by adapting the environment, approach and activity, a participant will be engaged in the experience, which will in turn lead to the ultimate goal of wellbeing, characterised by self esteem, social connectedness and positivity.
Combining specialized strategies for dementia care with art-based activities, the program explores how art 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.
In our initial program design, we incorporate a process of staff and facilitator learning and exploration to help us better understand dementia and the adaptations that are necessary to develop and present the most effective program possible for our participants. Once these adjustments have been made, the person’s diagnosis is no longer front of mind during the program presentation. At that point we focus on being receptive, responsive and encouraging.
Once we have learned about dementia to help us work well, we leave it at the door – we don’t talk about dementia, we talk about art in a way that works best for each person in the room. By preparing conversations and activities that take into account the specific abilities of our participants, we are easily able to adapt to different levels of ability, and to the changing conditions of the day.