In 2013, the Stedelijk Museum and Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven teamed up to launch a scheme to make art accessible to people with dementia and their family members. Known as ‘Unforgettable’, the project offers guided tours that encourage participants to look at, and talk about, art. By sharing stories, memories, associations and ideas, participants bring art to life together.

The museum organises an Unforgettable guided tour on the first Monday of each month, from 14.30 to 16.00. Every month, there’s something new to discover. You don’t need any knowledge of art. Unforgettable is all about enjoying art and each other. A specially trained museum guide gets the ball rolling with inspiring questions and creative assignments. 

You’ll find the dates of the next guided tours in our calendar. It’s also possible to book an Unforgettable guided tour on a different date. To find out more, please contact the Education Department at educatie@stedelijk.nl or on 020-5732 741. Tours can be booked for a maximum of 14 people.

Photo: Tomek Dersu Aaron
Photo: Tomek Dersu Aaron

WHY THIS PROGRAMME? 

Unforgettable is inspired by the Meet Me at MoMA programme of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Dementia affects an increasing number of people directly or indirectly, and yet no effective treatment for the condition currently exists. Moreover, the leisure and cultural sectors provide few activities for people with dementia and their families. The Stedelijk developed Unforgettable to meet this need. An Unforgettable tour puts emphasis on things that everyone can do: enjoying an inspiring, stimulating museum visit. 

Looking at art is a way for people with dementia to share their thoughts with loved ones without having to rely on their short-term memory. The guided tour helps to stimulate long-term memories and personal experiences, which promotes social interaction. Research shows that this has many health benefits: after an Unforgettable tour, participants feel happier, more involved, and valued. This builds their sense of confidence and self-worth. Moreover, through the Unforgettable programme, the Stedelijk also offers a safe and inspiring environment for people to meet their peers.

NATIONAL ROLL-OUT

The support of the Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds made it possible for the Stedelijk and Van Abbe to expand the Unforgettable programme to ten other Dutch museums between 2014 and 2016. This national implementation of the scheme was the subject of a study conducted by the programme’s research partner the VU medical centre, which examined the effect of the guided tours and deployment of the Unforgettable method.

Photo: Tomek Dersu Aaron
Photo: Tomek Dersu Aaron
Photo: Tomek Dersu Aaron
Photo: Tomek Dersu Aaron

PUBLICATION AND WEBSITE 

For museums and other cultural institutions that were unable to take part in the nationwide expansion of the project, a free publication with practical tips, reflections and research results was published on 21 September 2017 (World Alzheimer Day). The guide offers tips and recommendations for launching a similar programme. The publication can be downloaded, free of charge, from www.onvergetelijkmuseum.nl.

Unforgettable is inspired by the Meet Me at MoMA programme, an initiative of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The Unforgettable programme was developed by the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Van Abbemuseum, with financial assistance from the Fonds Sluyterman Van Loo and Stichting RCOAK in 2013. 

Thanks to the support of the GieskesStrijbis Fonds – that was also the principal sponsor of the VUmc research – the scheme was implemented in other museums throughout the country. The scientific study was also made possible by the generous support of the VSBfonds, Stichting Hofje Codde en Van Beresteyn, and Stichting tot Steun VCVGZ.