Monday, March 4, 2013

Reaching Out to Vermont's Alzheimer's Community

2012 Mornings at the Museum Tour of  Time Machines:  Robots, Rockets, and Steampunk Exhibit in Webb Gallery.

Preparations are well underway for the 2013 season of Mornings at the Museum: Shelburne Museum's tour program for people with early stages of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. The program’s team of specially trained guides is proud to continue their efforts in providing monthly tours to memory care residents from the Arbors, the Lodge at Shelburne Bay, and Wake Robin.

2012 Mornings at the Museum Tour at the Stagecoach Inn

Unlike a traditional art tour, guides place the focus on participants by using the Museum collection as a tool to stimulate the expression of thoughts, memories, and opinions while maintaining a safe and caring environment. Research studies have shown that art engagement (museum visits, art making, music, etc.) can significantly improve the quality of life for a person with dementia.  On another level, public programs, like Mornings at the Museum, can help people with Alzheimer’s reaffirm dignity and self-esteem while staying active in the community.

I have been using the winter months doing outreach to members of Vermont's Alzheimer’s community: specifically individuals with Alzheimer’s living at home with their loved ones or care partners.   During my visits with support groups throughout the Chittenden and Addison counties, I describe the Mornings at the Museum program and how people with dementia can benefit from regular visits to Shelburne Museum.  To help caregivers and their loved ones plan trips to Shelburne Museum, I have developed the Mornings at the Museum TO GO program. 

The TO GO program offers monthly complimentary guide packets to help organize and plan self-guided tours on our grounds during the 2013 Summer Season.  Each packet features a mapped out visit to one of the 37 buildings on Shelburne Museum’s Grounds.  While exploring the building, TO GO users can take advantage of the questions and facts provided about four specific objects in order to start conversations with a partner, a family, a group of friends, or even members of a local support group.  The TO GO program provides the freedom to experience art at one’s own convenience and pace.

Many support group caregivers admit they have difficulty finding activities to do with their loved ones.  With that in mind, Shelburne Museum is taking a small steps towards offering positive and memorable experiences for the greater Alzheimer's and dementia community of Vermont. 

Interested in learning more information about the Mornings at the Museum TO GO program?  Please email Shelburne Museum’s Education department at 

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