Piece of Mind: Alzheimer's Tour Program

Organization Associated with Program
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
1934 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38104

The Piece of Mind program of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art engages older people in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer's disease through interactive tours and art-making experiences. This free program is led by specially trained volunteer docents who highlight themes, artists, and special exhibitions during tours that encourage dialogue and personal connections between participants, their care partners, and the docents. After the tour, an art-therapist facilitates related, hands-on art-making projects. One-and-a-half-hour sessions are conducted once a month on select Tuesday mornings when the museum is closed to the public. The program currently serves 400 people each year.

Program History

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is recognized nationally for its innovative educational programs, continual community outreach, and world-class art collection. The museum takes an enthusiastic leadership role in building an aspirational future for the city of Memphis. Inspiration and great accomplishments from antiquity to the present are all in evidence, and by bringing to life the objects and ideas in the collections, the museum connects people to one another across cultures, time, and geography.

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art modeled the Piece of Mind program on the highly acclaimed Meet Me at MoMA program for older people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. The program was launched in 2007 when staff of New York’s Museum of Modern Art led a workshop for Memphis Brooks Museum docents and staff on memory loss and strategies and techniques for facilitating meaningful and thought-provoking experiences for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. Piece of Mind provides a safe and non-threatening environment and offers older people living with Alzheimer’s disease an expressive outlet and forum for dialogue. The Memphis Brooks Museum developed partnerships with healthcare centers and community organizations that serve people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partners as a way to learn more about the community and to develop and grow an audience for the program.
 

Program Assessments and Evaluations

This program is evaluated by museum staff on an ongoing basis through the use of surveys (filled out by caregivers), gallery observations, attendance records, and informal interviews.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Do it! Start small. Be flexible and willing to make changes. Focus on the social and inspirational aspects of the program and not necessarily on art history.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Viewing Artwork, Participate in a Class
Arts Discipline: Museums, Visual Arts
Target Audience: Caregivers - Family, Caregivers - Professional, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design Cognitive Disabilities
Program Setting: Arts Organization
Program Service Area: Rural, Suburban, Urban
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice