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Elder HeART Tour Program

The Elder HeART Tour Program at the MSU Museum is a program that will provide a museum experience to people with early to mid-stage dementia. The program provides opportunities for conversation and engagement for people living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia and their caregivers. The program was piloted in the Fall of 2012 with a tour for the Alzheimer’s Association as well as invited tours for three Lansing-area assisted living facilities. The MSU Museum is one of five organizations in mid-Michigan, The Broad Art Museum, The Michigan Historical Center, Burcham Hills Assisted Living Retirement Community, and Neighborhood Empowerment Center that are implementing Elder HeART tour programs. 

The Elder HeART Tour Program offers ways to engage individuals with dementia using art and museum objects --  with groups or one-on-one, with caregivers and families -- in ways that help people living with the degenerative disease find a creative, expressive outlet and a forum for dialogue. Specially trained Museum docents will work with participants in the early and middle stages of the disease using techniques where museum objects are key to prompting memory, association, reflection and discussion.

Elderheart trainingThe program is modeled after the Museum of Modern Art's Alzheimer's Project, as well as the Elder HeART Project that was developed by Bonney Mayers at the former Kresge Art Museum at MSU. The MSU Museum is the science and culture museum at Michigan State University. The museum building features three floors with 15 galleries and exhibit spaces changing year-round, showcasing traditional arts collections, historical artifacts and natural science specimens, as well as a special focus on art-science-creativity intersections and periodic, experimental projects created by MSU faculty and students.
"We are excited about this new partnership and the great potential to make the museum more accessible and to create meaningful experiences for our visitors," notes MSU Museum Curator of Cultural Heritage Mary Worrall, who piloted the Elder HeART program. 
Adds former MSU Museum Director Gary Morgan: "The Elder HeART program had largely focused on artworks as subjects for connecting with dementia sufferers. We are pleased to be able to expand the contact with scientific objects and specimens and historical artifacts. It will allow the forum of dialogue to expand."

Starting in March 2015, the Museum will kick-off regularly scheduled tours that will be open to the general public. If you would like to register, please call the Education Program Coordinator at (517)-432-1472 or email. Please download and submit this registration form to take part in an upcoming tour.