|MoMA's program, launched in 2009|
One of the things that we discuss in these courses is how museums shape knowledge. By this I mean the ways in which museums help us to understand history, geography, majority and minority cultures. Museums also help us to understand what art (or history or science or...) is, why objects were collected, and what relevance they have for us today. I have often thought of this as the shaping of new knowledge, but what about knowledge that has been submerged and/or lost to the ravages of time?
Thinking about new and old knowledge (or knowledge that once was), I reflected on the place of objects. All objects have stories and it's up to us, as 21st-century viewers, to allow the object to tell its story. How do we experience an object? Under what contexts? With what authority?
I was reading an article brought out through NPR about the Kreeger Museum in Washington, D.C. which runs a program for people with Alzheimers. Their program is based upon the Meet Me at MoMA program at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. (For info on the Met's pioneering program, launched in 2009, click here.) The story on NPR told about the Kreeger's program, giving information on how their efforts aim to connect middle schoolers with those with Alzheimer's. When viewing a work from the Kreeger's collection, Monet's Sunset at Pourville (pictured below).
|Monet's Sunset at Pourville, featured in the Kreeger's program|
The Kreeger's program is small, focused, and offers enriching opportunities for all involved. Beyond the personal connections and the knowledge being shaped, the program offers much-needed stimulation for all involved, especially the Alzheimer's folks. Derya Samadi, who runs the Kreeger's Alzheimer's program, says art museums have always been places of refuge and stimulation for her, and they serve the same purpose for men and women with Alzheimer's."There's something about being in the stimulating environment," Samadi says. "It's there for them; they haven't lost it. They just can't connect to it. So you're just trying to open up channels for them."
This story about the Kreeger's program, and the existing program at MoMA, remind me of the broadened audiences for art and the ways in which we might engage them. To read the full story about the Kreeger's program, click here.