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The MSU Museum Education Team has begun training to create an Elder HeART Program, providing guided museum experiences for people living with Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and their caregivers.

The programs offers ways 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 training
The 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 educator Mary Worrall, who is leading the ElderheART program. 
Adds 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."
Following a training and review period this semester, MSU Museum educators will begin working to coordinate guided museum visits for individuals and assisted-living facility residents. For more information, contact:

The first tour for people living with dementia and their caregivers is planned for Friday, Dec. 7, 2-3 p.m. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Contact (517) 432-1472.