MA&A was a European project which took place between 2015-2017, aiming to facilitate access to museums and the arts for people with dementia, their families and professional carers. The project increased cross-sector collaboration between cultural, social care and healthcare sectors at a local and European level. The ultimate aim was to contribute to building a dementia-friendly society.

Butler Gallery worked with five partner organisations from Italy, Germany and Lithuania to achieve two project outputs:

  1. A training course aimed at museum educators and geriatric activity coordinators who want to create or implement museum programs for people living with dementia and their carers, with special focus on developing communication tools.
  2. A skills course aimed at family and professional carers. The goal is to develop an “educational” relationship through art; exploring effective communication and nonverbal understanding, within the care relationship.

Arts & Dementia: A European Perspective

As part of its participation in the Museums, Art & Alzheimer’s project, Butler Gallery hosted a European Conference on 4 July 2017 to examine the role that artists, museums and galleries play in a dementia-friendly society.

PDF Download of the Programme: Arts & Dementia – A European Perspective Conference Programme

What role do artists, museums and galleries play in a dementia-friendly society? What is the value of arts programming for people living with dementia and their families and carers? How can innovative, creative thinkers make a positive impact on the lives of people living with dementia and their families and carers?

Butler Gallery is a founding member of the Azure Network, alongside Age & Opportunity, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and the Irish Museum of Modern Art. This collaborative partnership has been active in exploring the potential for greater participation of people with dementia in cultural settings in Ireland since 2012.

As part of a series of events hosted by MA&A project partners around Europe, this event examined these questions through a series of presentations, a panel discussion and interactive workshops.

Contributors included; Clive Parkinson (Dir. Of Arts for Health, Manchester Metropolitan University), Cristina Bucci (Museo Marino Marini, Florence), Prof. Eamon O’Shea (Director of the Centre for Economic & Social Research on Dementia at the National University of Ireland Galway), Helen O’Donoghue (Senior Curator, Head of Engagement & Learning Programmes, Irish Museum of Modern Art), Ronan Smith (Irish Dementia Working Group), Ríonach Ní Néill (Galway Dancer in Residence 2010-17 / Dance Curator, Firkin Crane Cork), Caroline Schofield (Artist-in-Residence 2016, Waterford Healing Arts Trust)

Interactive workshops included; Exploring Azure Dementia-Friendly Art Tours (Irish Museum of Modern Art), In the Picture at Uillinn(West Cork Art Centre), Poetry and Art (Marino Marini Museum Florence)

The Project Partners in addition to Butler Gallery:

Lead Partner: Marino Marini Museum – Florence, Italy
The Marino Marini Museum is dedicated to the work of Italian artist Marino Marini and also programmes contemporary temporary exhibitions in its crypt space. The Marino Marini Museum has become a leader in dementia programming in the Tuscan region and has offered its “Art In Your Hands” programme for people with dementia and carers since 2012.

Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany
This German museum is dedicated to the sculpture of Wilhelm Lehmbruck with a significant collection of modern and contemporary sculpture. One of the first museums to develop activities for people with dementia in Europe, the Museum’s education department develops programs for all visitors paying particular attention to their respective needs. The Museum recently engaged in a research project “Development of a model for social participation of people with dementia in the museum space” (ISER / MSH Hamburg) and gives trainings for art educators in other museums who are interested in setting up such programs.

Socialiniai Meno Projektai, Lithuania
Socialiniai Meno Projektai is a non-profit organisation, which develops partnerships between the sectors of social care, health care and culture. Activities include: work in policy level, cross-sectorial training programmes, participatory activities, public events and research addressing mental health issues and advocating the positive impact of participatory art to health and wellbeing.

VšĮ Žmogiškųjų išteklių stebėsenos ir plėtros biuras (ŽISPB), Lithuania
ŽISPB is a non-governmental non-profit organisation. Its objectives are to observe, analyse and assess social phenomena and processes in the field of social and educational policy and to create, adapt and implement innovative social and educational initiatives and projects related to formal and non-formal education.

Euridea, Italy
Euridea Srl is a private vocational training and adult education agency accredited by the Region of Tuscany. It provides training courses and educational activities aimed at employed, unemployed and/or disadvantaged people, specialising in the fields of culture, social services and tourism.

To find out more about the Museums, Art &Alzheimer’s project and to access free training resources developed during the project please visit

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