Beyond the Frame: An Analysis of Museums as Therapeutic Spaces for Persons with Alzheimer?s Disease
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The average lifespan of a person in the United States is increasing, along with population. This has a direct effect on the number of persons with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Since Alzheimer's disease currently has no cure, alternative therapy programs are more important than ever. This paper addresses the idea of museum therapy, particularly the success of museums as therapeutic spaces for persons with Alzheimer's disease. Literature on museum programming provided a set of criteria for evaluation of these spaces. They are: layout, patient-care provider bonding, visual elements, interactive elements, and shared experiences. This paper uses those criteria to evaluate three art museums in Madison, WI: the Chazen Art Museum, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and Madison Children?s Museum. Interviews with program directors were also conducted, along with observations of a support group for persons with Alzheimer's disease. The spatial analysis was enlightening and concluded that, while the two existing programs are housed at the Madison Children's Museum, both the Chazen Art Museum and Madison Museum of Contemporary Art have a much higher potential as therapeutic spaces. In addition, this project found that museum staff is generally very interested in programming for persons with Alzheimer's, but there is a lack of knowledge and training in how to create and implement these programs.
Madison Children's Museum
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
Chazen Art Museum
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