Museum Moments program helps patients with memory loss

museum moments

People respond to art in different ways. Some are moved to tears, while others feel a giggle bubbling up inside. Some are bored by the act of observing, while others relish the quiet contemplation. But for participants in Emory's Museum Moments program, the hope is that art will help them remember.

Last spring, the Emory Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) launched Museum Moments to spark the imagination, invite conversation, and form connections through art. Museum Moments is modeled after Meet Me at MoMA, offered at New York's Museum of Modern Art. In both programs, trained educators guide individuals with Alzheimer's or memory impairment through famous works of art, empowering them to share their thoughts in a social setting.  

Brought to Atlanta by Emily Lu 12M, Museum Moments involves ADRC, the Michael C. Carlos Museum, and Emory's schools of nursing and medicine.

"Through this engagement with art, participants and their care partners have the opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas, share individual experiences, and access memories," says Ken Hepburn PhD, professor of nursing and clinical core director of ADRC. "This program is the perfect example of how we care for our patients, not only in the clinical sense but also in doing our best to take care of them and their caregivers emotionally and socially." 

Museum Moments tours enable participants to connect with their caregivers in a casual and low-pressure environment.

"For people with memory loss, any experience that is engaging—and screens out the confusion caused by diminishing abilities to sort out the multiple stimuli of the surrounding world—by definition improves quality of life, at least for the moment," says Hepburn, who was instrumental in starting the program. "Great paintings, great poems, great works of music share a common quality: they are intact and whole and have no extraneous or distracting parts, which can enhance the experience of a person who has a disease like Alzheimer's."—Kerry Ludlam


Museum Moments tours are free for small groups of patients and caregivers. To register, contact Julie Green, Carlos Museum, at 404-727-2363.

Table of Contents

Cover of Emory Nursing Magazine