Meet Irish Museum of Arts’ Azure Project, making art accessible to people with dementia.
In 2012 the Azure Project was initiated as a collaboration between Age & Opportunity, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny, and Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in Dublin. The project was inspired by ‘Meet Me at MoMA’ project in New York with the goal of making art accessible to people with dementia.
Azure tours were created with the same mission. Organisators want to make museums in Ireland dementia-friendly spaces and encourage people with dementia and their family/carers to participate in art and cultural activities.
Dementia is a term that incorporates a range of conditions that cause changes and damage to the brain. In Ireland, 55,000 people are currently living with dementia, and are primarily cared for by a family member. One of the misconceptions about dementia is that people with dementia are unable to socialise and stay involved with the community.
Azure tours in IMMA are organised once a month and are guided by trained professionals. What differentiates Azure tours from regular tours at IMMA is the creation of a welcoming environment with a complete acceptance for people with dementia. The design of the tour and facilitation techniques are designed based on the fact that memory, cognitive abilities and communication skills of people with dementia can be impaired. The number of artwork that is shown in the tours is reduced and discussed in depth.
Caroline Orr, curator from the department of Engagement and Learning at IMMA said: “The beauty of contemporary art is that, in so many cases, reference to the past isn’t needed. It’s about what you’re looking at and what your immediate response to it is.”