Museums have long been essential pillars in America’s educational infrastructure. But increasingly, museums of all types and sizes ─ including The Hyde Collection ─ are supporting medical research and training, initiating therapeutic programs for those with memory loss, children on the autism spectrum and veterans with combat-related illnesses, and inspiring healthier nutrition and behavior.
The Hyde’s initiative on Alzheimers and other health-related enterprises on the part of American museums are documented in a new report, “Museums on Call: How Museums are Addressing Health Issues,” released by the American Alliance of Museums. [Available Online]
“This report showcases just one of the many ways museums have become essential community assets and service-providers,” said American Alliance of Museums (AAM) president Ford W. Bell. “In addition to conserving and exhibiting our natural, scientific, cultural and historic heritages, museums also meet urgent community needs, and in today’s America health care is very much at the forefront of our field’s commitment to public service.”
Among the museums highlighted in “Museums On Call” is The Hyde Collection, included for the Alzheimer’s program Memories in the Making. Museum staff, trained by the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeast New York, provides people living with the disease and their caregivers an opportunity to see great works of art followed by a watercolor painting process that encourages storytelling and unlocks memories of people, places, and things important in the lives of the participants. Caregivers report that the program positively impacts mood, sociability, and conversation.
The Hyde Collection conducts Memories in the Making by request on site for families and groups and off site at The Wesley Health Center in Saratoga Springs, The Emeritus at The Landing in Queensbury, and Westmount Health Center in Queensbury. An exhibition of paintings by participants is currently on view at The Wesley Health Center, 131 Lawrence Street in Saratoga Springs through July 12th. Memories in the Making was developed by the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County, California, and is supported locally, in part, by the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust and CDPHP.
This report details ten aspects of the health care field where museums are making significant contributions. Specifically, they are Alzheimer’s, Autism, Disease Prevention, Health Literacy, Hospital Outreach, Medical Training, Mental Health, Military and Veterans Health, Nutrition and Wellness, and Visual Impairment.
Moreover, the museums that have initiated programs addressing these issues represent the breadth of the museums field ─ art museums, children’s museums, history museums and historic sites, natural history museums, science-technology centers, public and botanical gardens, zoos and aquariums.
“For too long, elected officials and other policy makers have viewed museums as amenities, rather than as essential community anchors,” Bell said. “This report is but a glimpse of the many public services provided by museums to our communities, all across the country. Health care is a prime concern for leaders and average citizens alike, and museums are clearly striving to meet those needs.”
For more information on the unexpected work being done by museums in the fields of education, social welfare and public safety, among others, visit the Alliance website at www.aam-us.org
Photo: Memories in the Making participant George from The Landing, about to paint his favorite camping spot. Photo by Lindsay Stanislowski.