The MoMA Alzheimer's Project: Making Art Accesible to People with Dementia
History of the project: The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project is a nationwide initiative that builds on the success of MoMA’s long history of serving people with disabilities and special needs. It further enhances MoMA’s educational programming for older adults, which includes lectures, both at the Museum and at senior centers and assistedliving facilities; an annual Grandparents Day; and regular teleconference courses for homebound seniors. The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project allows the Museum’s experts to concentrate on one particular segment of the adult population and to create programming designed for the needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.
From 2003 to 2006, MoMA, along with staff from Artists for Alzheimer’s, a project sponsored by the Hearthstone Alzheimer’s Family Foundation, conducted focused interviews with people who have Alzheimer’s disease and began pilot programs with groups from Hearthstone. After this initial phase, MoMA independently expanded and deepened its research and program development, including creating educator workshops that focused on teaching strategies in the galleries, artwork selection, and audience-appropriate activities. Educators also receive biannual training from professionals from the New York City Alzheimer’s Association and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Goals of the project: The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project aims to:
- continue and advance the Meet Me at MoMA program;
- determine the best practices for creating, developing, and implementing gallery tours and related programming for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers, both in a museum setting and for individuals in assistedliving facilities or at home;
- provide resources and practical training to other museums, associations, organizations, and individuals interested in offering similar programs to meet the interests and needs of their local communities;
- reach out to various communities to raise awareness of and advocate for the benefits of making the arts accessible to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.
This guide details the logistical steps of creating a museum program for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. It also includes the breakdown of a guided tour, from selecting artworks and planning questions to communication strategies to keep in mind when working with this audience. The Museum of Modern Art was one of the first museums in the country to offer programs to make its collection and special exhibitions accessible to people with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. In 2006, the Museum launched Meet Me at MoMA, an educational program specifically designed for people with Alzheimer's disease. This guide is based on that program.