KIM Q&A with The Jewish Museum in NYC,
regarding JM Journeys; a unique art program for those with Dementia.
KIM – Please share with the readers what the JM Journeys program is and how it began. Had your organization recognized an unmet need, in the marketplace?
TJM – JM Journeys is an experimental program started at The Jewish Museum in 2011, in response to an identified need by people living with dementia and their care partners. It also helps us further develop different types of Access programs, already being offered by the Museum.
2. KIM –Too often, once someone is diagnosed with a Dementia, they recoil and become isolated. In addition, family care partners tend to neglect their own health as they become overwhelmed by care duties. Can you share 2 examples of how you’ve witnessed the impact of the JM Journeys program on those individuals who participate?
TJM – The Jewish Museum has had a growing number of participants who come back every month to enjoy time in the galleries, looking at and discussing works of art with a museum educator. We have participants who’ve responded to paintings, their environment, and their care partners, often with the help of multisensory stimuli. We’ve used spices to explore the use of spice containers or music and movement to engage with a video installation of a dance group.
3. KIM – Do the museum facilitators, who lead the monthly meetings, have special training to oversee this unique audience? And, how are the art mediums selected for this program?
TJM – The educators who lead this program have been trained at the Museum with staff from the New York chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and other non-profits already working with this population. The choice of exhibition for JM Journeys is based on a theme-like identity. The theme is used to reflect on the experience through an art making workshop. Exploration of a theme has been done through special exhibitions as well as our permanent collections. Sometimes, overlapping.
4. KIM – JM Journeys is a special way to engage those with cognitive decline in a purposeful, creative way. Have you noticed an evolution since the program was first introduced?
TJM – Since the program began, we have noticed a growing number of new faces. This is partially due to articles and citations that the program has had in local publications, word of mouth and our connection with the community through the Connect2Culture program at the Alzheimer’s Association. We started a JM Journeys outreach program to local residences, combining sessions offsite with at least one visit to the Museum’s galleries.
In addition, JM Journeys is a way for people living with dementia and their care partners to engage in social interactions away from the clinical part of their lives. They can stimulate their creative instincts through gallery discussions and art making. Meanwhile the care partners get to know their peers, those in their care and the Museum. The Jewish Museum offers a safe place for them to respond as they can to the works of art and to each other.
5. KIM – For others who may try to coordinate an Art-Appreciation-style program of their own; what are the top 3 suggestions you have, that may be useful for them?
TJM – For any organization wanting to start a similar program, we recommend contacting your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition, contact Museum Access Consortium (MAC); http://museumaccess.wordpress.com/ MAC has a great knowledge base and are interested in working with folks who wish to make museums accessible to all audiences with disabilities.
Lastly, we suggest you make sure you have a relatively quiet space during the program with the least number of distractions. JM Journeys is held on a day when the Museum is closed to the public.
THANK YOU! to The Jewish Museum of New York for developing and discussing their unique JM Journeys program!http://www.thejewishmuseum.org/