About Jane Tygesson

Jane Tygesson’s work is based on some of the best research and strategies available in the emerging field of arts and aging.
– Pat Samples, Co-Founder and former Program Director for ARTSAGE, Minneapolis, MN 



Jane Tygesson is author of the manual Opening Doors to Memory & Imagination to help museums create programs that engage the senses and spark conversation for people with memory loss. She is the Program Director of the Opening Doors initiative, through which she offers the book and services free of charge so that more museums around the country can offer tours to adults with memory loss. 

In recent years, Jane has worked closely with an organization in the Twin Cities named ArtsSage, which has broadened her expertise beyond  museum work to also include working with communities on how they can integrate the arts with an an aging population. Jane also does consulting with individual arts organizations and senior living residences on how to create arts programming for seniors.

Jane co-founded the “Discover Your Story” program at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) in 2008, which has brought more than 3,000 adults in the early and middle stages of Alzheimer’s into the museum with their families, friends, and care partners for interactive tours. Jane has since partnered with the SPARK! Alliance, with funding from the Helen Bader Foundation, to help support similar programs for people with memory loss at 11 cultural institutions in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Jane has spoken widely at conferences on the topic of arts and memory loss, including presentations at the National Art Education Association Conference, the National Docent Symposium, and the Association of Midwest Museums. Jane serves on the advisory boards for ARTSAGE and the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project MN, and served on the Early Stage Advisory Board for the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota.

Jane has been a docent at the MIA for 20 years and previously served as Gallery Director at Mongerson Wunderlich Gallery in Chicago. She currently serves as a trainer and coordinator for the Art Adventure program in local elementary schools.

Jane has long had a passion for working with the aging, having spent ten years performing music in Twin Cities’ nursing homes and serving on two hospice teams. She also serves as a Lay Care minister at her church, Christ Presbyterian, in Edina, MN. Her particular compassion for adults living with memory loss has been shaped by her experiences with her mother and godmother.

Jane holds a degree in Art History and Slavic Studies from Northwestern University in Chicago, which is where she met her amazing husband, Gary. Jane and Gary have two great kids with wonderful spouses who are now grown and have deserted their parents to create their own lives in Chicago and St. Louis (but she’s not bitter about it at all).


Jane Tygesson has provided consulting and training for numerous leading arts organizations, as well as been a featured speaker at conferences and symposiums on arts and the aging nationwide.

  • Consultant: Vocal Essence – Vintage Voices
    Assisting Rob Graham, Director of Vintage Voices, to start up six choruses in Senior Residences throughout the Twin Cities
  • Presenter: Midwest Arts and Aging Conference
    Arts and Memory Loss – Exploring the Potential
    Chanhassen, Minnesota – June 2015
  • Presenter: ACT on Alzheimer’s Conference
    How to Integrate Arts Programming with People Living with Dementia
    Chanhassen, Minnesota – June 2015
  • Lead Trainer: Intro to Arts and Aging Workshop (Funded by the Bush Foundation)
    Training Community Leaders in Integrating Arts and Seniors
    Plains Art Museum, Fargo, North Dakota – March 2015; Rochester Convention Center, Rochester, Minnesota – February 2015;
    Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, Cass Lake, Minnesota April 2015
  • Presenter: Regional Arts in Healthcare Symposium
    Arts as Part of the Healing Process
    Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota – November 2014
  • Presenter: Minnesota Statewide Activity Professional Conference
    How Staff Can Integrate Arts into Senior Facilities
    St. Cloud, Minnesota – October 2014
  • Presenter: SPARK Alliance Conference – Building Community Alliances
    Racine, Wisconsin – September 2014
  • Presenter: Celebrating Creativity in Elder Care – Creating a Dementia Friendly Community
    Working with Memory Loss in the Gallery
    Santa Fe, New Mexico – October 2014
  • Program Coordinator and Master Trainer: ArtSage Arts and Aging Minnesota Professional Development (Funded by the Minnesota State Arts Board)Initiative II – How Arts Organizations Can Create Programming for the Aging Population
    Program Participants: Caponi Art Park, COMPAS, MacPhail Center for Music, Minnesota Discovery Center, Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center, VocalEssence, Zenon Dance Company
    Minneapolis, Minnesota – October 2013 St. Paul, Minnesota – November 2013
    St. Cloud, Minnesota – January 2014 Minneapolis, Minnesota – March 2014
  • Attendee: The Creative Age: Exploring Potential in the Second Half of Life
    Washington, D.C. – June 2014
  • Presenter: Midwest Arts and Aging Conference
    Tapping into Creativity and Potential
    Minneapolis, Minnesota – June 2014
  • Lead Trainer: Intro to Arts & Aging Workshops for ArtSage
    Minneapolis, Austin, Grand Rapids, Fergus Falls, Minnesota – Fall 2014
    Funded by the Minnesota State Arts Board
  • Program Coordinator: Ecumen Lakeshore Introduction to Arts Programming
    Three Artist Residencies – Integrating Art into a Senior Residence – How Does It Work?
    Duluth, Minnesota – October, November and December 2014
  • Presenter: ArtSage Workshop for Paramount Theater Artists Working with Seniors
    St. Cloud, Minnesota – January, 2015
  • Presenter: SPARK! Alliance Symposium
    How to SPARK! Imaginations in the Gallery
    John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, Wisconsin – November 2013
  • Presenter: Accessibility & Museums – The SPARK Alliance
    Wausau, Wisconsin – February 2013
  • Consultant: Volunteer Training Days – How to Tour People With Memory Loss
    Minnesota Marine Art Museum, John Michael Kohler Art Center, Weisman Art Museum, Leigh Yawkey Woodsum – 2013

Additional Speaking Engagements, 2009-2013

  • “Musings on Museum Programs for People with Memory Loss and Dementia,” Meeting of the Minds Dementia Conference, St. Paul, MN, March 2009
  • “Caregivers Conference,” Aging and Disability Resource Center, Hudson, WI, September 2009
  • “Discovering Stories Together: Programs for People with Memory Loss,” National Art Education Association Conference, Museum Division Pre-conference, Minneapolis, MN, June 2009
  • “Memory Loss, Creative Engagement and Museum-based Programming,” Association of Midwest Museums EdCom Workshop, Chicago, IL, June 2010
  • “Alzheimer’s Disease and Creativity,” a workshop co-sponsored by the Helen Bader Foundation and the St. Croix County Aging and Disability Resource Center, Hudson, WI, August 2010
  • “Building a Memory Loss Program on a Shoe String,” National Docent Symposium, St. Louis, MO, October 2010
  • “Working with People with Memory Loss,” Twin Cities Docent Symposium, Weisman Art Museum, St. Paul, MN, March 2011
  • SPARK Alliance Symposium, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI, November 2011
  • “Are We Ready? Yes We Are!,” Minnesota Adult Day Services Association, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, October 2012
  • “Training the Artists,” ARTSAGE and National Center for Creative Aging Conference, St. Cloud, MN, February 2013
  • “Dementia: The Disease of Our Generation,” University of Minnesota Dept. of Geriatrics, Minneapolis, MN, May 2013

 Jane Tygesson is the guiding light and driving force behind our program for visitors with memory loss at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Her vision, commitment, and more than 20 years of professional experience with people with memory loss led her to be the invaluable co-creator of the “Discover Your Story” tour program in 2008. She helped research existing programs, create mailing lists from scratch, and establish a partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota to make sure we had a viable program. With the Alzheimer’s Association and museum staff, she has trained several cohorts of tour guides to facilitate these specialized tours. She is an excellent, thoughtful, and caring teacher and coach. She helped us introduce storytelling and poetry into the program, and assisted with a research project with the University of Minnesota. Her contributions don’t end there. In 2011 she reached out to medical students at the University of Minnesota to engage them in assisting program participants. This brilliant collaboration has greatly benefited students, participants, and the museum. Jane is an amazing woman with a vision and commitment to making a real difference in the lives of people with memory loss.

– Sheila McGuire, Manager of Learning Resources, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN