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MetLife Foundation Renews Grant to the Museum of Modern Art to Support Expansion of the MoMA Alzheimer's Project

NEW YORK, NY.- The Museum of Modern Art announces that it has received a second major grant from MetLife Foundation for The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project: Making Art Accessible to People with Dementia, a nationwide expansion of Meet Me at MoMA, the Museum's outreach program for individuals living with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. The two-year grant of $400,000 will fully fund the further expansion of the program nationally and will allow MoMA to pilot international projects through workshops, seminars, and in-person training; to develop enhanced web-based resources for museums and healthcare facilities around the world; and to fund a research study on the effect of art on memory and perception among people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia.

In 2007, an initial MetLife Foundation grant of $450,000 funded the development of The MoMA Alzheimer’s Project, which was established to broaden the reach of Meet Me at MoMA, a monthly program of interactive tours of MoMA’s collection of masterworks for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia, along with their caregivers.

MoMA educators have since traveled to museums and organizations across the country to lead workshops, seminars, and in-person training sessions to encourage the development of programs similar to Meet Me at MoMA. Training and materials were provided to all organizations at no charge. To date, more than 3,000 people have been served by these outreach efforts, and some 35 museums have participated in trainings on making art accessible to people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

“The Museum of Modern Art is committed to building on the highly successful partnership with MetLife Foundation and further increasing awareness of the potential of cultural programming to enrich the lives of people with Alzheimer’s and their families in the United States and around the world,” said Francesca Rosenberg, Director of Community and Access Programs at MoMA. “We are grateful to MetLife Foundation for its visionary commitment.”

“Programs such as Meet Me at MoMA are important, because they offer people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers opportunities for mental and social stimulation through art," said Dennis White, president and CEO, MetLife Foundation. "We are pleased to continue to support MoMA’s innovative program and help it to expand even further.”

The initial MetLife Foundation grant also funded a research study conducted by MoMA and the New York University Langone Center of Excellence for Brain Aging and Dementia to measure how engagement with art positively impacts people with early-stage Alzheimer’s, as well as their family caregivers.

Results of the study clearly demonstrate the meaning and value that the interactive museum tours hold for participants, and help to identify the specific aspects of the Meet Me at MoMA program that individually and together coalesce to create its impact. The findings of the study also suggest the potential of programs such as Meet Me at MoMA to bring enjoyment and stimulation and improve quality of life for people with dementia and their caregivers. The positive effects of such programming could have major ramifications for the development of interventions for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their relatives.

Commenting on the conclusions of the study, Dr. Mary Mittelman, the Director of the Psychosocial Research and Support Program of the NYU Center of Excellence for Brain Aging and Dementia, who designed the study, stated, “Programs such as Meet Me at MoMA provide a valued and important experience for participants and should be replicated broadly.”

MoMA has also developed a project Web site,, as a resource for organizations wishing to adapt Meet Me at MoMA to their own communities. Through the new grant, the site will be enhanced with additional features to reach a broader audience and share more information.

This summer, MoMA will publish Meet Me: Making Art Accessible to People with Dementia, a multimedia resource that highlights the benefits of creating art programming for individuals with dementia and their caregivers, as well as the process of designing and implementing such programs in museums, care organizations, and the home.

The study was designed by Dr. Mary Mittelman, the Director of the Psychosocial Research and Support Program of the NYU Center of Excellence for Brain Aging and Dementia, and. Cynthia Epstein, L.C.S.W., of the New York University Center of Excellence for Brain Aging and Dementia. Its design, which included a variety of measures to gather both qualitative and quantitative data through self-report and observation has yielded a comprehensive understanding of how and why the Meet Me at MoMA program impacts attendees and provides suggestions for modifications and future expansion.

The number of participants who consistently return to MoMA for the monthly Meet Me at MoMA program indicates the meaning and value that the tours bring to the participants.

The style and approach of the educators who lead the tours of the museum’s collection, and the participants’ interaction with the educators, generate genuine interest and appreciation, rekindling feelings of self-worth.

Having the opportunity to learn, to be intellectually stimulated, and to experience great art together had a significant positive effect on the mood of the participants and their caregivers.

The shared experience of the tours elicited profound gratitude from family members and caregivers, who valued the opportunity to share an activity that is of interest to both partners.

Social interaction was cited by participants as a major factor in their enjoyment of the program, even indicating a desire to include more social interaction after the gallery tour.

Participants experience a sense of safety and feelings of being highly regarded by the educator and Museum staff during the tour, increasing feelings of self-esteem.

For both the persons with dementia and their caregivers there were positive changes to mood both directly after the program and in the days following the museum visit. Caregivers generally reported fewer emotional problems.

The Meet Me at MoMA program also served as a catalyst for new conversation in the days to follow.

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