March 18, 2013  |  Learning and Engagement
“Hoi!” from Holland: The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project Goes Global

The Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Education serves thousands of diverse visitors each year through its programs, from the local Girl Scout troop, to older adults in long-term care residences, to English-language learners who’ve only recently arrived in New York.

But what you may not know is that we also spend a lot of time teaching teachers to teach (say that 10 times fast!). In other words, my Education department colleagues and I train educators from arts institutions, schools, and community organizations on how to incorporate MoMA’s teaching methodologies into their respective offerings.

MoMA Alzheimer’s Project staff-members Laurel Humble and Meryl Schwartz speak at the Stedelijk Museum. Photo: Tomek Whitfield

MoMA Alzheimer’s Project staff-members Laurel Humble and Meryl Schwartz speak at the Stedelijk Museum. Photo: Tomek Whitfield

One such outreach initiative is the MoMA Alzheimer’s Project. Building on the success of MoMA’s arts engagement programs for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia and their care partners, project staff have created training resources for arts and health professionals interested in developing and facilitating their own arts discussions or art-making programs for people with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. So far, we’ve produced a free publication and website on how to make art accessible to people with dementia. We’ve also reached over 9,700 arts and health professionals through conference presentations and training workshops. Largely due to these efforts, 95 museums worldwide (and counting) have committed to starting their own arts programs for this audience.

Last week my colleague and I were in the Netherlands leading a training workshop for museum educators from the Stedelijk Museum and the Vanabbe Museum in preparation for the launch of their gallery discussion and studio programs for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Over the course of an intensive two days we covered such topics as how to craft a successful discussion question about a work of art, how to incorporate new materials into art-making workshops, how to balance the needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partners, and how to create an inclusive, sophisticated, and lively teaching environment. I, in turn, learned some Dutch (Goedemiddag!) and discovered my new favorite food (bitterballen)!

We’re as excited to see how the programs at the Stedelijk and the Vanabbe develop as their educators are. As one trainee just e-mailed, “I am eager to practice…I regret that we have to wait for a month or more before we can really start!”


Those bitterballen look delicious!

I hope museums down here in South Africa follow suit — this program sounds fantastic!

Wonderful to see how far MOMA’S reach is relative to Alzheimer’s programming throughout the world.
Kudos to the qualified staff and their vision.

What an impact the MoMA is having internationally for those with dementia. It is both heartening and inspiring! Great work.

I’d love see how this terrific program progresses. Keep the posts coming!

Sounds like a wonderful initiative! Happy to see MoMA’s innovative methods in teaching go global. 95 and counting….amazing.

Sounds like an educational experience for both sides!

I’m so glad that programs like this exist at the MoMa and the organization is able to bring its programs to an international audience. 95 is an amazing feat! Congratulations to the group.

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