here:now Arts Engagement for Individuals Living with DementiaOrganization Associated with Program
The Frye Art Museum of Seattle offers here:now, an outreach program that enables individuals living with dementia and their care partners to enjoy a creative and relaxing afternoon together. The only museum-based arts program of its kind in Washington State, here:now offers gallery tours and art-making classes designed for individuals with early-onset or early to mid-stage memory loss and their care partners. The Frye Art Museum also presents professional development workshops, conferences, and lectures on the topic of art, creativity, and dementia.
As a free museum, the Frye Art Museum is dedicated to serving the needs of its immediate neighborhood—particularly adults who have been homeless, the healthcare community, and older adults—through a robust offering of public programs. The museum strives to foster deep civic engagement with the community; create a strong, positive sense of place; unite disparate parts of the community in constructive ways; and influence the community’s health and wellbeing through its art programming.
Two years ago, recognizing the dramatic increase of Alzheimer’s disease and the aging population of the Frye’s visitors, the museum explored the idea of offering an arts program for persons with memory loss and their care partners. Inspired by Meet Me at MoMA, a program started at the Museum of Modern Art of New York, in 2005 the Frye developed a creative alliance with the Alzheimer’s Association and Elderwise, a Seattle nonprofit focused on cultural enrichment and art-making for older adults. The pilot of here:now was launched in Fall 2010.
The here:now initiative has evolved to offer two programs for individuals with memory loss and their care partners. The first is a monthly discussion-based gallery tour, and the second is a six-session class, which includes a gallery tour and studio art-making experience. Funded by the Frye Foundation, both programs are offered free of charge. Space is limited, and pre-registration is required.
A formal study of here:now is currently being conducted by Dr. Lee Burnside, staff physician of internal medicine at Virginia Mason and Medical Director of Horizon House. As a fellow in geriatric medicine at the University of Washington Harborview, Dr. Burnside is studying the impact of here:now on participants’ quality of life and on relationships between the person with memory loss and their care partner.
Evaluations are based on the following program goals:
- Create an expressive outlet and a forum for dialogue for individuals and their care partners through looking at and making art;
- Spark connections between individual experience and the world at large;
- Foster a social setting where all participants are respected as contributors; and
- Offer opportunities for communication and connection between the person with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partner and the chance to gain new understanding of each other’s ideas and interests.
It is essential to develop partnerships with other organizations in your community. It is also key to stress the importance of arts and aging programming to the entire organization. Lastly, be aware of the program goals as well as participants' needs throughout the duration of the program.