I used to take dance classes as a kid, and I remember the first time I walked into MoMA I was struck by the gallery floors—perfect for dancing. So you can imagine my pleasure last week when John Heginbotham, of Mark Morris Dance Center and a founding teacher of Dance for PD, asked me to sashay across MoMA’s galleries to the imagined rhythm of Piet Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie and, later, to perform a reverence like Henri Matisse’s dancers in Dance (I).
John was demonstrating ways a museum educator might incorporate movement into a gallery program, using artwork as inspiration. His was just one of the many exciting perspectives offered during Practice and Progress: The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project Exchange.
The Exchange, a two-day conference hosted by The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project, brought together 84 professionals from across the globe who deliver arts programming for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia and their care-partners. Not only did Exchange attendees boogie down, but we shared program developments, traded tips on teaching practice, considered new and cross-disciplinary ways of engaging people with dementia with art, and discussed programmatic successes and challenges, both large and small. We heard presentations from our fellow practitioners, broke out into smaller groups to brainstorm, strategize, and debate, and had opportunities to put discussions into practice with hands-on sessions in MoMA’s galleries and studios.
Participants of the Exchange hailed from many of the almost 100 museums worldwide that have implemented art-discussion or art-making programs for people with dementia. Twenty-seven participants from 12 countries across four continents attended. We also had representatives from 10 states and Washington, D.C., and from seven of our fellow New York museums.
Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. One participant wrote, “The conference made me realize that people around the globe have a common bond in our work in the arts for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Together we are making a difference.”
Video from the two days will be posted this spring on The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project website. Keep checking our events page for updates!