Since 2015, NOMA’s Learning and Engagement department has worked with Poydras Home to offer Artful Minds, a program for visitors with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and their caretakers.
Artful Minds has been offered as a uniquely designed museum experience that aims to enhance cognitive function and communication. The program involved a 45-minute visit to NOMA’s galleries led by docents, who have taken training specific to the program. Participants would meet at NOMA, check in, and then go to the galleries in two groups of about 10 people, and docents facilitated discussions grounded in slow-looking and spontaneous conversation.
Typically, Artful Minds was offered nearly once a month. Poydras Home residents and their family members were able to visit NOMA in January and February 2020. Then, like so many of the museums offerings during the coronavirus pandemic, it was necessary to redesign the Artful Minds program for the remainder of 2020.
After a pause in program delivery, NOMA teamed up with the Pontchartrain Conservancy to offer a new program opportunity for the aging and now-homebound, population. Louisiana Landscapes, a virtual program delivered through Zoom, included a live-filmed hike together with an art-making experience. Offered monthly from September 2020 through April 2021, this program included a focus on observation and discussion, with the addition of the outdoor component. In addition to Poydras Home, participants from Lambeth House and the St. Tammany Council on Aging also took part in Louisiana Landscape online.
Beginning in May 2021, with a new comfort level in online discussions and instruction, NOMA began offering Artful Minds to Poydras Home as a monthly virtual-visit program. Several of the participants from the in-person visits of 2019–20 have been able to attend the group Zoom that is set up in a group meeting area at Poydras Home and facilitated by NOMA’s Curator of Education Tracy Kennan.
We look forward to our continued collaboration and hope to welcome Artful Minds participants back to NOMA in person in the near future.
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