May 13, 2013  |  Learning and Engagement
Practice and Progress: The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project Exchange

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).

Guest facilitator leads a workshop for participants of The Alzheimer's Project Exchange. Photo: Kirsten Schroeder

Choreographer John Heginbotham leads a movement workshop for participants in the MoMA Alzheimer’s Project Exchange. Photo: Kirsten Schroeder

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!


This sounds like such a great event! It is wonderful to read about so many museums all over the world developing programs like these to help those with dementia make connections with their world. My great grandfather lived with dementia for several years, and loved music and art. A program like those discussed here would have been an excellent way for him to maintain ties to the things he loved and the world around him. It’s really great to read about programs that are allowing so many great grandparents this opportunity! Keep up the good work, MoMA!

My life’s been enriched through the Creative Center of NY at University Settlement and MOMA’s program. Mission being accomplished – empowering professionals to implement effective, life enhancing arts programs making measurable differences for the cognitively impaired and those who are not.
Thank you for your daily practice and intention to continually learn and improve. I am inspired.

This sounds like it was an exciting forum! I’d be curious to know whether there are any specific ideas or initiatives that MoMA plans to incorporate into their programs that emerged from this exchange.

What a lovely description of a great event. It makes me want to dance in the galleries at MoMA, too! Congratulations on what was clearly a successful and important conference, and keep up the good work with the Alzheimer’s Project!

Os depoimentos empolgam e motivam a participar da descoberta desse universo de conhecimentos.

This sounds great.. I work with someone with early onset alzheimers and would love to be kept informed of other projects and activities I could do with her.

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