Inspiring Art

Glenbow tours evoke memory and creativity

 Glenbow educator Ty Larner points out some familiar landscapes to evoke memories during a dementia-friendly guided gallery tour. Photo courtesy Glenbow Museum.

Glenbow educator Ty Larner points out some familiar landscapes to evoke memories during a dementia-friendly guided gallery tour. Photo courtesy Glenbow Museum.

Making art and culture accessible to everyone helps build an enriched and inclusive community. That’s the thinking behind the Glenbow Museum’s special access programs—including a new one for people with dementia.

The program got its start thanks to Shelley McLellan, executive director and owner of Aspen Care Calgary, a home care provider and long-term care home that specializes in dementia and palliative care. McLellan felt museum visits would enhance her clients’ quality of life, and she approached the Glenbow about a dementia-friendly tour.

“When we go to the museum, our clients are stimulated in ways we as caregivers can’t give,” McLellan says. 

At the Glenbow, museum educator Ty Larner was inspired by the idea, and helped develop the program using sensory learning techniques to guide participants in an exploration of gallery spaces.

 Glenbow tour participant Anne Stenhouse, centre, with Aspen Care Calgary executive director Shelley McLellan and canine friend Newman. Photographed by Erin Brooke Burns.

Glenbow tour participant Anne Stenhouse, centre, with Aspen Care Calgary executive director Shelley McLellan and canine friend Newman. Photographed by Erin Brooke Burns.

“Using the concepts of touch, taste, sound, sight, smell and emotion, participants look at works of art and discover what it would be like to encounter the subject matter first-hand,” Larner says. “The art will have elements of the familiar, such as landscapes and outdoor scenes from the Historical gallery, and will hopefully elicit responses from memories of similar experiences.”

After the gallery tour, participants visit the studio where they create visual and tactile sensory collages to reflect on their experiences. The initial tour in April was a success. “Participants responded with great enthusiasm, and there were a lot of smiles,” Larner says.

“I believe tours like this help to integrate our loved ones back into society where they belong,” McLellan adds.

Upcoming tours will run at 2 p.m. on June 8, June 29, Aug. 10 and Sept. 15. Pre-registration is required as tours are limited to 10 participants and their caregivers. The cost is $20 per participant; caregivers get in free. Register by calling 403-990-3837.  [ ]