Meet Me at the MOMA

May 27, 2009 3:15:56 PM PDT
A unique program at one of New York's most famous museums is helping people with Alzheimer's use art to stimulate their minds. The works of Toulouse Lautrec, Paul Gaugin and Pablo Picasso can elicit lots of responses and feelings. And as it turns out, looking at art and talking about it can do a whole lot for someone with Alzheimer's. And the dialogue flows every month at at the Museum of Modent Art.

It's an intimate gathering at the MOMA, in which the museum is closed to the public. But it is open to one group, and their commentary is often provocative, according to their guide.

"As an educator, it's really fun and interesting to be talking to people with these changing minds," Carrie McGee said. "And they come with ideas and perceptions that are very profound."

Half of the men and women are in the early or middle stages of Alzheimer's or dementia. The other half are their caretakers, friends or spouses. Jeannie McCabe escorted her friend, Karen Henes.

"She talked to me about this program, and said how much she loved it and how much she got out of it," McCabe said. "And she thought I might like to see it as well, and see her experiencing it, which has been really wonderful."

"It puts me in a whole other world," Henes said.

And that's what the Meet Me at MOMA program is designed to do, to stimulate, captivate and empower. Florence Otway was diagnosed with Alzheimer's about a year ago.

"The first time we came last year, on the way home she said, 'Now, did anyone else in that program have Alzeimer's?" son Lorcan Otway said. "I said, 'Yes, half the people did.' And she said, 'You know, you can't tell the difference.' And it did a lot to make her feel a lot more comfortable."

She may no longer remember everything.

"If you ask me how old I am I'd have to ask him," Florence said.

But in a room of art, it isn't memory, but feeling that prevails.

"It's the place I come and I know I'll be happy," Florence said.

Meet Me at MOMA has been so successful that other museums around the country are now offering similar programs.

Visit moma.org/learn/programs/access to learn more on the program.

Additional information can be found at the New York City Alzheimer's Association Web site, available at AlzNYC.org.

For more information on national outreach, visit moma.org/learn/programs/alzheimers

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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