Read about the author and Program Director of Opening Doors.

“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 offers the book and her services free of charge so that more museums around the country can offer tours to adults with memory loss.

Jane co-founded the “Discover Your Story” program at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) in 2008, which has brought more than 1,000 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 in 11 cultural institutions in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Jane has spoken widely at conferences on the topic of arts and memory loss, including presenting 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 18 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 who are now grown and have deserted their parents to create their own lives in Chicago (but she’s not bitter about it at all).


Jane Tygesson has been a featured speaker at the following conferences and symposiums:

  • “Musings on Museum Programs for People with Memory Loss and Dementia,” Meeting of the Minds Demential Conference, St. Paul, 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