by Ailsa Richardson, Engagement Officer – Older People
ArtBox is part of our aim to make Bristol Museum & Art Gallery a dementia-friendly venue.
We have received Heritage Lottery funding to run events and workshops for people living with dementia, their families and carers. In addition to Creative Cafes and Assisted Visits we wanted to consider people who cannot visit the museum due to the seriousness of their condition or challenges to their health. This is where ArtBox comes in.
Artbox is an activity box that draws on the sessions in the Creative Cafés. They are designed to be sensory, tactile, interactive, playful and accessible. The ArtBox enables a small part of the museum to be taken out to those in care homes and hospital wards.
These boxes will mean that the work we do here in the museum can make its way out into the community.
The design process was very much a collaborative one, involving dementia specialists, museum curators, designers and artists.
The creative team who designed and made ArtBox (Chris Ingram, Lisa Cole, Caleb Parkin, Kate Uzzell and Ailsa Richardson) are incredibly proud of the finished boxes. It provides opportunities for creative interaction, play and conversation for people living with dementia, their carers and families.
ArtBox was launched in September at an event for dementia providers, partners and internal museum staff.
There were representatives from Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, Home Instead Domiciliary Care, Bristol University Hospitals NHS Trust, Alive Activities, Knowle West Media Centre, Bristol Health Partners and Bristol Museum Development Trust.
ArtBox has also been shared with staff from other museums including the National Museum of Wales and Norfolk Museums.
We ran a session for staff and facilitators from the charity Alive to introduce them to ArtBox and we have a session booked to do the same with hospital staff. The activity boxes will be offered for use through Bristol University Hospitals NHS Trust and the charity.
The responses have been inspired and excited. We have also had lots of interest from care homes and museums requesting sessions and more information about ArtBox.
We are very excited about ArtBox. It gives opportunities to people of differing physical and cognitive abilities who may never be able to visit the museum. It also helps to open up what can be difficult interactions with family members, especially grandchildren.