Are you willing to open your doors to a new audience? Museums and cultural institutions of any size can create a program that will awaken the senses and stimulate the minds of adults living with memory loss. The program can be led by volunteers and implemented at little or no cost to a museum, with the exception of addressing any accessibility issues necessary for aging adults to navigate your space.
Tours are intimate, focused on personal connection and discussion. The tour itself is more of a journey — exploring pieces of art and using props that help visitors engage their senses, tell stories, and reminisce about the past. Docents and volunteers are trained to create a comfortable environment that stimulates senses and sparks conversation. The benefits have proven great for the adults with memory loss and their families — as well as for the volunteers who lead them.
- Read a Free Step-by-Step Guide. Download the manual, Opening Doors to Memory & Imagination: Creating a Museum Program for People with Memory Loss, compiled by Jane Tygesson. The manual offers background, research, training tools, and a logistical checklist on how to develop and execute a program.
- Read a Guide to Hands-On Art-Making Projects. This 6-page document from the Racine Art Museum (RAM) shares several project ideas for engaging adults with memory loss, with a focus on process more than product. These projects can be easily replicated at other museums and cultural institutions.
- Explore Poetry Ideas & Resources for Memory Loss Tours This resource from the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota provides an overview of poems, poets, and poetry resources to use in memory loss tours. It is organized by topic so you can customize resources for different contexts and audiences.
- Contact Jane Tygesson for Free Consulting. Jane can advise your museum on how to create an Opening Doors program using items from your own collection. Jane will provide consulting on accessibility and logistical issues, help you establish partnerships with local memory care facilities and organizations serving the aging, and provide training to staff and volunteers. Visit the Contact page.
- Connect with Other Museums. As you plan and execute your Opening Doors program, resources and collaboration are available through the SPARK Alliance — a group of cultural institutions offering similar tours — to share ideas and best practices.