"The daily lives of people with dementia are often characterised by activities which are care-based in nature. Only seldom do they get to partake in a genuine dialogue or a collective activity which provides mutual enrichment. The fact that they can and want to make a contribution to our social life is not even really taken into consideration."
(Sybille Kastner, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg)
As 20 art museums across 15 cities came together to form the RuhrKunstMuseen as part of the Ruhr area's appointment as European City of Culture in 2010, everyone was in agreement: the art treasures of the region which have international significance should be made extensively accessible, for visitors of all ages and for those with or without a handicap. This includes meeting the requirements involved in dealing with the demographic change currently being experienced – an increasingly ageing society. An inclusive approach which transcends cultural, religious and generational boundaries.
The challenge: taking Granny/Granddad to a museum when, at home, memory loss is beginning to make daily life a struggle. The RuhrKunstMuseen has put a spotlight on demographic change. For example, what does it mean to create an "accessible" museum? What form could artistic encounters specifically designed to meet the needs of the elderly take? Here, the significance of cultural participation for social cohesion was always kept in mind – we are all human, and we are all in this together. Even when life takes a new turn, when memory fails us and when we can no longer find the right words. Ageing and dementia are topics now being discussed within museums.
This is something which not only calls for new forms of mediation. In particular, this led to the museums' own routines when it came to sharing classic art-historical knowledge being put under scrutiny. After all, the special manner in which people with dementia perceive things can be seen as an opportunity to bring about a change in perspective: from art mediator to art moderator. Sensuality, emotion and the open, unbiased viewing of art were the pillars on which the new experience strategies were based. As of 2014, the RuhrKunstMuseen's "Sinnlich erleben" offering was created across a broad front as part of the federal model programme "Lokale Allianzen für Menschen mit Demenz". This took place under the leadership of the Lehmbruck Museum in Duisburg, in cooperation with the Demenz-Servicezentrum Westliches Ruhrgebiet and the "Dementi" self-help group.
Nowadays, twelve RuhrKunstMuseen offer special, dementia-friendly events. Here, the motto is: do not overstrain those concerned, enable enriching experiences to take place, and have a good time at the museum. Sensory formats in particular, which don't rely exclusively on language but more on attentiveness towards the person themselves, are the foundation of this specialised form of art mediation. This alliance for dementia is based on the RuhrKunstMuseen's conviction that people's cognitive impairments do not impair their ability for cultural and social participation. Fundamentally, the special perspectives provided by people with handicaps can only serve to enrich the world that we all share.
Josef Albers Museum Quadrat Bottrop
T +49 (0) 2041.29 716
Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg
T +49 (0) 203.28 32 195
Museum Folkwang, Essen
T +49 (0) 201.88 45 444
T +49 (0) 209.16 94 130
T +49 (0) 2381.17 57 03
T +49 (0) 2323.16 222 388
T +49 (0) 2323.16 29 56
Kunstmuseum Mülheim an der Ruhr
T +49 (0) 208.45 54 171
Ludwiggalerie Schloss Oberhausen
T +49 (0) 208.41 24 928
T +49 (0) 2361.50 19 35
Zentrum für Internationale Lichtkunst Unna
T +49 (0) 2303.103770
other museums in the region:
Museum Schloss Moyland
+49 (0) 2824.9510 68
Leder und Gerber Museum Mülheim
+49 (0) 208.302 10 70
+49 (0) 2151.97558 112
Deutsches Bergbau Museum Bochum
+49 (0) 234.5877 126 (außer montags)
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