Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Museums & Dementia

Museums and Dementia – the National Museum of Australia program, (excerpted from Ministry for the Arts e-newsletter, August 2015)

nma-2rsAs the nature of our understanding of dementia changes, so too does the way the National Museum of Australia in Canberra thinks about programming. The National Museum recognises that those living with dementia – and their families – derive benefit from its galleries, spaces, objects and stories.

For the past seven years, the Museum has offered a range of programs and events, using ‘reminiscence programming’, where ‘cues’ and objects are used to facilitate discussion, stories and anecdotes from participants. Indeed, the abundance of interesting objects at the Museum often spark unique and emotional connections with participants and these form the basis for meaningful engagement.

The Museum’s Access team has forged a solid relationship with Alzheimer’s Australia and is investigating ways to offer inclusive and accessible programs that provide a meaningful museum experience.

Dementia programming at the Museum is not just about triggering memories. It is also about making discoveries, sharing experiences and celebrating uniquely Australian stories in a safe environment – that is mindful of the needs and requirements of an ever-broadening section of our community.

The Museum recently explored the ‘Montessori Method’ in which one of our regular Dementia groups was invited to assist with the preparation of materials for our popular Discovery Space school holiday program. The Museum also runs a very successful off-site program in dementia care facilities, which highlights its Education Handling Collection and its associated stories.

Looking forward, the Museum is excited to engage with the ‘Neural Knitwork’ project which will provide a tactile way for participants to make conceptual connections with the material featured in our upcoming Encounters exhibition, featuring Indigenous objects from the British Museum’s collection.

For more information on the National Museum of Australia’s programs and events contact: accessprograms@nma.gov.au or (02) 6208 5345

Read more here about running the NMA workshops for people with dementia.

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Mr Brian Oldman, South Australian Museum PO Box 234 Adelaide, South Australia 5001 Australia, © CAMD 2023
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