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Age Exchange art features in national museum

A model for what can be achieved when charities and museums collaborate

The creative talents of people living with dementia seen by thousands of people at a major exhibition at the National Maritime Museum. ‘All Aboard’, is a stunning showcase of artwork created by people supported by Age Exchange – the UK’s leading reminiscence arts charity based in Southeast London who are part of Community Integrated Care.

Painting entitled Treasure Island by Kam Richard and Michael

In 2020, Age Exchange collaborated with the National Maritime Museum on a unique programme to tackle isolation during the pandemic, inspired by the theme of travel and migration.

‘All Aboard’ saw forty families, supported by Age Exchange, receive a special All Aboard travel case packed with objects and digitised archive material from the museum that inspired reminiscence of holidays and travel gone-by, and of migration to the UK in the post war period. Through exploring the activities in the cases, including historic documents and photographs, sensory stimuli, sound effects, and arts and crafts activities, our service users were inspired to reflect upon the important journeys of their lives and those made by their parents and grandparents.

Through virtual workshops and socially distanced visits inspired by the museum and its travel archives, the group was supported in developing their own art works reflecting their individual journeys.  The resulting creations, which convey stories as varied as beloved family holidays to experiences of emigration, as well as journeys of the imagination, were displayed at the National Maritime Museum for 3 months until February 2022.

Painting entitled 'Seascape' by Donna

The exhibition of ‘All Aboard” featured in the Museum’s prominent ‘Great Map’ exhibition space. It powerfully combined the museum’s historic Travel Journal Collection of diaries, letters, photography, drawings and paintings, dating from the 17th Century to the present day, with the art works created by the Age Exchange service users.

The project was generously funded by Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, which supports programmes that increase public engagement with museums.

2022 – The National Maritime Museum with Age Exchange has recently made available (free of charge) the on-line version of the “All Aboard Travel Box ”, for museums, and health and social care services across the UK to use and explore with people they support living with dementia. You can find the resource here: All Aboard | Royal Museums Greenwich (rmg.co.uk)

David Savill, Artistic Director of Age Exchange, said: “For many, the prospect of travelling right now presents a lot of risks and considerations, but the barriers are even higher for people living with dementia. This project gave the people we support the opportunity to contemplate a world without barriers again and to reconnect with treasured memories.

“Their artworks and stories they have shared are incredibly moving and demonstrate the true impact of practices on memory and wellbeing. We believe that this is a truly inspirational and important exhibition for the public to engage in. We’re grateful to Royal Museums Greenwich for helping us to change lives and tackle isolation during the pandemic.”

Find out more here.

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