Museum Therapy

Different forms of therapy are used lately for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as there has been carried out research on the contribution of museums for the treatment and inclusion of people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This can be achieved through visits to museums but also through the conduct of educational programs in the museums as museum therapy. 

Museum therapy is a form of therapy that grants the use of a museum and its collection to therapeutic processes. This form of therapy allows individuals to be submerged in the art and the exhibitions of the museums, and from viewers become creators themselves. This means that within the museum space, therapists can provide a creative experience for the participants and interact with them in new ways. 

A common goal of museum programs is to increase the well-being of people with dementia. Usually these programs are part of the type of treatment through art (art therapy). Art therapy involves use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, coloring, or sculpting to help people express themselves artistically and examine the psychological and emotional undertones in their art. One of the most well-known museum therapy programs (Museum Therapy) is Meet me of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In this programm, people with dementia and their caregivers visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York several times. To evaluate the participants, self-report scales of the emotional state of the participants before and after the program, observation scales from the researchers and Museum staff as well as focus groups up to 3 months after the implementation of the program were used. The results showed an improvement in the relationship of individuals with their caregivers and positive emotions.

In a recent study carried out in Italy, the effectiveness of «Museum Therapy» was investigated in a group of patients with dementia. This research involved 30 people diagnosed with various types of dementia who were hospitalized in a nursing home for over approximately 80 days.The patients were divided into two groups, one group visited the Museum of Contemporary Art 3 times, while the other group engaged in outdoor activities. As a result of this research, both groups of patients improved their performance in tests of memory, attention, executive functions and also a reduction in behavioral disorders. However, patients who participated in museum therapy improved their performance on tests of cognitive assessment and pragmatic abilities.

In these results someone can observe how art in a museum, combined with discussion, journaling and note-taking as well as creating artwork, can lead to increased self-awareness and promote social connectedness in older adults. Museums can be of great help to people with dementia and can improve their mental and emotional state


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