The Asheville Art Museum was recently awarded a $25,000 Ribbon of Hope grant from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation in support of its Connections program, a new arts-based program serving adults with mild to moderate memory loss as well as their care partners.
Once the Asheville Art Museum reopens its renovated and expanded facility in early 2019, Connections will take place monthly with specially trained Museum staff and volunteers leading groups of adults living with any form of dementia or other memory loss, and their care partners, in a guided experience in the galleries that invites conversation about artworks. Participants will then engage in a related hands-on, artmaking or other multisensory activity in the classroom or gallery spaces, which allows for further socialization.
Over the past year, the Museum has been working with community partners to pilot and assess aspects of Connections at the Museum’s pop-up location On the Slope.
Connections is based on the demonstrated efficacy of similar programs taking place in art museums in the United States and around the world that address the need for community gatherings and safe spaces to stimulate the minds of adults with mild to moderate memory loss and their care partners. Studies show that art therapy can enhance communication, brain function and social interaction for people living with dementia. In fact, visual art can trigger dormant memories and emotions, inspiring conversations among patients who normally struggle to express themselves. Additionally, artmaking activities stimulate the whole brain of all people, not just adults with memory loss. Instead of simply responding to images, patients must plan, remember, create patterns and use motor skills.
Ribbon of Hope grants support activities that advance science, health and education in local communities across the state of North Carolina.