Cultural organizations constantly seek ways to expand their audiences and community engagement with technology solutions and innovative programming. In 2020, this quest became heightened because of the impact of COVID restrictions on public gatherings and family celebrations. When I started to write this post, I wanted to highlight the tele-present robot program at the Hastings Contemporary in UK. This innovation was first mentioned during a Cuseum webinar.
Over the past year, I learned more about programming for older adults from the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Art Gallery of Windsor. I spoke to Laurie Kilgour-Walsh at the Art Gallery of Hamilton to prepare for a 2020 client project. Laurie provided information about AGH’s programming as well as the published research from the pilot study. This work indicated engagement with older adults is improved when the educational programming involves the caregiver as well an educational docent or staff person. This program included educational talks, reminiscing and hands-on art making. Laurie mentioned that the AGH project was influenced by work that MOMA did with the Alzheimer Society.
Sophie Hinch from the Art Gallery of Windsor spoke about the AGW’s upcoming project with the local Alzheimer society at the Age Friendly Arts and Culture Symposium in December 2020. AGW and AGH programming in this area seem similar in emphasizing the importance of involving caregivers in the ‘art talk’ as well as the older adults. The caregivers are often feeling the same level of social isolation as the older adults involved. The panelists at the December 2020 symposium explored how visual art, heritage objects and music can trigger memories and creativity in older adults and improve community and family connections. Several museum workers were interested in providing 3D images of their collections for memory boxes.
Once the highlight videos from the Symposium are available, I am planning to put a link here. Until then, please take a look at this resource guide from the Alzheimer Society to develop meaningful interactions. You can also review the presentation slides from the morning panel here.