Frye Provides Arts Engagement Program for Individuals Living with Dementia and their Care Partners

Seattle—The Frye Art Museum announces a new program for people living with dementia and their care partners which will begin in April 2011. here:now offers a six-part series of tours and art-making activities in the Museum’s exhibitions and art studio as well as monthly gallery tours scheduled once a month in April, May, and June.
here:now began in September 2010 as a three-month long pilot project. Initiated by the Frye Art Museum in partnership with the Western and Central Washington State Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and Seattle-based Elderwise, a nonprofit focused on cultural enrichment and art-making for seniors, it is the only program of its kind available in Washington State.
Suzanne Visser was a participant of the pilot program. For 25 years, Ms. Visser supported the medical community in her roles as research nurse with the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center, and later as a nursing instructor at a community college. Now, doctors are supporting Visser through her struggle with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. One place where she finds respite from medical discussions and tests, is at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum, where she participated in the here:now pilot program with her son. Other participants in the program included a retired physician and his wife; a 76-year-old woman and her daughter, the mother of four children; and two sisters, one living with dementia, the other recovering from cancer.
“The Frye Art Museum is uniquely suited to present this innovative arts engagement program,” noted Frye Director Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker. “Central to our mission is our dedication to serving our community. Located on First Hill, our immediate neighborhood includes renowned medical research facilities and services. here:now is an important new initiative that we are proud to present alongside programs for children, adults, and life-long learners. Together, these programs and our exhibitions serve a truly multi-generational audience. Our commitment to providing free admission to our Museum means that we can serve a broad audience with diverse needs.”
Mary Jane Knecht, manager of adult programs at the Frye and project manager of the here:now program noted that while the important benefit of the arts in times of illness has been demonstrated in many situations, but the ability of the arts to enhance the lives of those living with dementia has been a relatively recent development. “Recognizing the dramatic increase of Alzheimer’s disease in our community,” she explained, “the Museum has the opportunity to provide a learning environment with social and physical stimulation to a population which is often living in isolation.”
Jilll Rullkoetter, Senior Deputy Director of the Frye Art Museum responsible for Arts Engagement Programs, notes that “our goal is to become a community resource providing support and training for care partners, healthcare providers, and arts educators on the role that art and creativity can play in living with dementia.” Plans for Phase 3 include public lectures, drawing on the community that is interested in topics related to art, aging, and dementia.
here:now is a program of the Frye Art Museum in partnership with the Western and Central Washington State Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association and Seattle-based Elderwise, a nonprofit focused on cultural enrichment and art-making for seniors. Initial seed funding was provided by the Frye Foundation.
here:now program
Gallery Tour Plus Art-Making Class: The next phase of the Frye’s here:now program kicks off on Thursday, April 7. Classes take place on six Thursdays, from 2:30–4:30 pm: April 7, April 21, May 5, May 19, June 2, and June 16, 2011. The six-session class is free, but space is limited and pre-registration is required at (206) 432-8211 or herenow@fryemuseum.org
Gallery Tours for people with memory loss and their care partners are held on the fourth Thursday of the month, from 2:30–4 pm, beginning March 24. Tours are free, but space is limited and pre-registration is required at (206) 432-8211 or herenow@fryemuseum.org
In the Frye Art Museum galleries participants will engage in discussions led by Deborah Sepulveda, Frye educator, and participate in art-making activities led by Sepulveda or Tamara Keefe, Elderwise director of adult day center and program facilitator. Studio programs offer the opportunity for participants to experiment with various media including paint, clay, and collage. “It is the goal of the Frye Art Museum,” Mary Jane Knecht explains, “to create resources, self-guided tours and art activities, so that participants and their care partners will feel comfortable returning to the Frye on their own or making art together.”
The Frye Art Museum is located at 704 Terry Avenue, Seattle, Washington, USA. Admission is free. For complete information on all exhibitions and programs, visit fryemuseum.org

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