Archive for the 'Acess Programs' Category

My Meaningful Moments at the DMA

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and Scholl Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program.

Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA, during a Meaningful Moments program

There are many reasons I enjoy working with our Access Programs here at the DMA, but one of the big ones is the chance to form relationships—relationships with participants and, in turn, their relationship with works of art in our galleries. The Meaningful Moments program for visitors with Alzheimer’s disease and their care partner (usually a spouse or family member) creates opportunities for people to have transformative experiences with works of art and with one another. I feel lucky to be a part of this each month. As I have gotten to know the participants over the years and spent time with them each month, I am reminded of the importance to live in the moment and to cherish each day that we get to spend with our loved ones. The Meaningful Moments program reinforces my belief in love and in the kindness of humanity.

If someone were to pass by our group in the galleries, it would appear as if longtime friends were chatting and reminiscing. In the studio, there is often laughter and joking as participants create and share their artwork. Many of the participants get together outside of the program, for lunches or support groups. I have received gardening tips and holiday cards from individuals in the program, and I have even visited the woodworking shop of a participant to learn how to use a lathe. The group is social and very welcoming to newcomers, but is also a supportive bunch of familiar faces.

Viewing and talking about works of art can unearth past memories, especially those still accessible to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. I have witnessed this many times during Meaningful Moments. From a Native American cradle sparking recollections about vacationing with young children, an exhibition with a beautiful wedding gown triggering detailed stories about participants’ wedding days, impressionist works reminding attendees of a favorite nature spot from their youth, or a print by Andy Warhol generating a lively discussion of life in the 1960s, artwork often serves as a catalyst to connect with the stories from the past and with loved ones in the present. During our gallery conversations, spouses (even those married more than fifty years) occasionally learn new things about their loved one’s past.

Crucial to the Meaningful Moments program, socialization and simulation play a key role and have been proven to help improve mood and behavior, as well as dramatically enhance quality of life. The social interaction and exploration of works in the collection are as gratifying to the spouse or family member as it is to the attendees with Alzheimer’s disease. I have seen care partners lean on one another for support and bond over shared experiences. One woman who used to bring her husband to the program still occasionally attends, even though her husband passed away two years ago. A couple who has attended the program since the beginning even schedules their doctor’s appointments and vacations around the program dates. A wife who brings her husband has told me that she needs the program, as it is a time when she can connect emotionally with him and not think about the disease for the two hours that they are in the Museum.

Since the program began four years ago, two of my favorite people in my life have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I know how heartbreaking it can feel for this disease to affect someone you love, let alone how scary it must feel for the person diagnosed. The Meaningful Moments program is one of the best parts of my job and means so much to me as an educator—it is an honor to be welcomed into the circle of this small group of people and to become part of their experience as they journey through life navigating such a devastating disease.

Getting to know program attendees and seeing how much the couples genuinely and patiently care for one another, I have witnessed true love in action. To watch a husband gingerly fit a headpiece he designed around his wife’s head, to catch couples married fifty years holding hands in front of a Jackson Pollock, to be in the studio immersed in jewelry-making with attendees while listening to Duke Ellington and suddenly looking up to see an impromptu slow dance take place by one of the couples in the program are just a few of the many truly memorable experiences for me, and ones that I will always cherish.

To learn more about the DMA’s Meaningful Moments program, or for information on how to schedule a group from assisted-living facilities specializing in memory care, visit the Museum’s website or e-mail access@DMA.org.

Amanda Blake is the Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences at the DMA.

Open Office: Center for Creative Connections

Most people don’t realize how fun having an office on the first floor of the museum can be! The ten of us (plus one intern) in the Center for Creative Connections (C3) office space are especially close, quite literally. We all sit within earshot of each other and are very close to the visitors in C3, which makes it a very lively workplace! Those who live here during the day (and often get locked in because they have stayed too late) are a fabulous group from the DMA’s C3 team; the wonderful ladies from the Family, Access, and School Experiences squad; and the Head of Community Engagement. You can visit Susan, Amanda, Amanda, Leah, Maria Teresa, JC, Danielle, Melissa, Jessica, Amy, and Tyler anytime you want! Just don’t forget which Amanda is which.

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Amanda Batson is the C3 program coordinator at the DMA.

Sense Art: Art Beyond Sight Awareness Month

October is Art Beyond Sight Awareness month and our Family Experiences and Access Programs throughout the month are all about exploring works of art without using vision. How might we do such a thing? By using our other senses! During Art Beyond Sight programming, you might:

HEAR John Bramblitt talk about his works of art and his process of painting as an artist who is blind. In the galleries, spend time imagining how a work of art might sound during one of the ABS programs.

SMELL textured paint as you use your fingers to paint a raised line drawing during a blindfolded painting workshop. Or, you could visit Arturo’s Nest in the Center for Creative Connections to smell spicy notes of cinnamon in one of the sensory bins.

FEEL raised dots as you learn how to write your name in Braille to make a work of art in our family workshop with artist Leslie Ligon. Use your sense of touch to feel mystery textures hidden in a tactile box before drawing it with lines you can feel!

Imagine what you might TASTE while exploring still lifes with food in the European galleries or stretch your mind to imagine how different colors would taste in the Contemporary Art galleries.

Join us throughout the month of October to SEE art without vision!

Amanda Blake is the Manager of Family Experiences and Access Programs.

The Dallas Museum of Art offers Dallas kids’ activities

The Dallas Museum of Art is a wonderful place for families to share experiences together and offers more than 700 programs for children and their families every year.  From a 2-year-old visiting the museum for the first time, or a 75-year-old showing his grandkids his favorite work of art, to a visitor with autism learning that she too can appreciate the Museum – we have something for everyone at the DMA. And if you’re under 12, you can always visit the Museum for Free! Watch the video below to see all of the different ways you can experience the DMA as a family.

Dallas Museum of Art Points of Access

Through Access Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art, visitors of all ages with special needs and their families can experience the Museum and spend time together. For instance, we host Art Beyond Sight programs in October that celebrate visual awareness, and four times a year we have Autism Awareness Family Celebrations.

Meaningful Moments is a monthly program at the DMA designed for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and a care partner–a devoted wife bringing her husband, a loving daughter attending with her mother, or an admiring husband bringing his wife, like John Rath, who brings his wife, Sue.

John and Sue attend the DMA program every month, including last week’s Storytelling in Art Meaningful Moments event. At every visit, they enjoy the gallery discussion and the opportunity to reminisce and share stories about their lives. Sue had a career with Susan Crane Packaging, where she designed wrapping paper that was sold at many stores, including Neiman Marcus, and John worked for thirty-seven years at Texas Instruments. Sue collects pins (always wearing a different one when she visits the Museum) and loves taking care of her plants in a back porch greenroom that her handyman husband John built just for her.

When the program moves to the studio for art-making, Sue’s artistic abilities shine as she is usually one of the last to finish her work of art. Many couples create art together during the studio time, but John prefers to admire Sue’s creations while providing support and encouragement. Clearly best friends, John and Sue have a love for one another that many dream about having.

I have been lucky to get to know this wonderful couple during Meaningful Moments throughout the year, and here is a bit more insight into the lives of John and Sue:

John and Sue, what three words would you use to describe one another?
Sue is loving, considerate, and creative. John is kind, friendly, and multitalented.

John, you and Sue have known each other for a long time (since childhood!). Will you share some favorite moments that you have had together over the years?
Riding our bicycles to Confirmation class at church together, our first date (a Boy Scout Christmas party), our wedding day, and honeymoon. Living in a number of different states and countries, some of them more than once, when I was traveling on military/government contracts for Texas Instruments. The birth of our daughter and son and their development through the years; both were achievers and kept us extremely busy with their activities. Everywhere we have lived, we’ve enjoyed the people we met and have taken advantage of the–if I may borrow a phrase–meaningful moments that were available.

What types of things do the two of you enjoy doing together?
We enjoy the Meaningful Moments program at the Dallas Museum of Art; spending quality time with family, extended family, and friends; camping, fishing, and most outdoor activities; playing games (cards, dominoes, Yahtzee, etc., especially with grandchildren); and working on creative projects together.

Why do you attend the Meaningful Moments program?
The Meaningful Moments program is an excellent extension of the informational and learning opportunities we have always enjoyed and try to take advantage of when possible. We always look forward to the monthly programs.

Amanda Blake is Manager of Family Experiences and Access Programs at the Dallas Museum of Art.


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