In The Moment

Organization Associated with Program
Carnegie Museum of Art
4400 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213

The In the Moment program of the Carnegie Museum of Art of Pittsburgh provides interactive thematic art tours to people living with neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. The tours give participants an opportunity to improve their quality of life through a social engagement experience that brings them back into the community and through observing and interacting with art. Tours are designed for people with early and mid-stage memory loss and their caregivers. In the Moment is designed to meet the specific needs of each member of the audience, moving away from any focus on the disease and instead centering on creating a rich, satisfying emotional and intellectual experience. During the tour, docents engage participants in conversation focused on five works of art selected based on a common theme. Discussion focuses on observing and responding to the art and allows both those with memory loss and their caregivers to respond.

Individuals and their caregivers are offered tours on the second Tuesday of each month, and residential care facilities may schedule group tours for pairs of residents and caregivers at times convenient to the group. Many participants use wheelchairs, and groups generally consist of 12 people or fewer. The gallery tours are a full hour in length, and the program serves approximately 400 people each year.

Program History

In the Moment began as a series of tours for residents of Presbyterian Senior Care’s Woodside Place, a care facility specializing in neurocognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. In the last two years, museum staff and docents have combined this experience and training with research and visits to other museums, creating a model based on the art and memory loss programs at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

In December 2010, the museum presented an In the Moment workshop, featuring speakers from the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the Alzheimer Disease Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, and the Museum of Modern Art’s Meet Me at MoMA initiative, with gallery sessions led by the director of Meet Me at MoMA. An audience of staff from local senior care facilities, neighboring museums, and various other institutions gained an appreciation for the ways making art accessible for people with memory loss can provide meaningful experiences in the lives of all participants.

Program Assessments and Evaluations

The program is evaluated by staff once at the end of each session through the use of surveys, attendance numbers, interviews, and press reviews.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Take each experience as unique with an overlapping of goals. Be ready to adapt the program to the needs of the audience, and understand the obstacles to getting this audience into the museum.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Viewing Artwork, Participate in a Class, Participate in a Workshop
Arts Discipline: Visual Arts
Target Audience: Caregivers - Family, Caregivers - Professional, Frail Older Adults, Intergenerational, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities
Program Setting: Arts Organization
Program Service Area: Urban
Type of Practice: Promising Practices