Music Making Memories

The Grainger Museum was successful in a highly competitive round for Melbourne Engagement Grants 2017.

The successful application, entitled Music Making Memories, will fund a year-long project to promote well-being in people with dementia through encounters with material culture and music at the Grainger Museum, while facilitating professional practice and cross-disciplinary professional learning for postgraduate health and allied health students. A series of 6 workshops will be run at the Grainger Museum in the second half of 2017, specifically for people with early-stage dementia and their caregivers from the local community.  Postgraduate students in disciplines including medicine, gerontology, and music therapy will work with the Grainger Curator in creating and delivering the program. The workshops include a combination of object-based experiential activities utilising the Grainger’s collections,and live musical activities led by music therapy students. The aim is to create an environment that encourages sharing of thoughts and emotions, and supports opportunities for socialisation.

Around the world, outreach and engagement programs are being developed in museums in direct response to new research in the field of well-being. Participants engaging directly with cultural objects in museum settings, and participating in music-making activities in music therapy settings, have improved physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The research is also finding that this type of programming can ease some symptoms of illness, including early-stagedementia.Some museums that have taken up this programming challenge include The Museum of Modern Art in New York, with the program Meet Me at MOMA, and the National Gallery of Australia, as well as many smaller museums and galleries.  The therapeutic power of music in the context of dementia has also received increasing attention recently,in both formal research papers and media: a well-known example was the 2016 ‘Music on the Brain’ story on ABC Catalyst program. Researchers have found that ‘music arouses a person through its rhythms and memory-inducing effects…[and allows] for both carer and patient to participate in a more meaningful and mutually engaging social connection.'  Combining both object-based experiences and music therapy in a museum setting is a newly emerging strategy, with similar programs currently being developed in the UK, see  the British Association for Music Therapy for more information.

The Grainger project responds directly to the Engagement at Melbourne 2015-2020 strategy in its commitments to Public Value, and Engaged students, and Health and Wellbeing.  It also aligns with Victorian Government strategic priorities in the National Arts and Health Framework (2013) which seeks to “promote greater integration of arts and health practice and approaches into health promotion, services, settings and facilities”.  A 10-minute narrative film will be produced by Learning Environments during the project, with footage of participants involved with music and cultural objects, and interviews with key contributors including students, and key academic advisers across music therapy, ageing and medicine. This video will promote new health and well-being outreach activities for the Grainger Museum.

More Information

Dr Heather Gaunt

03 8344 3724