Award-winning health and wellbeing activities at The Beaney
- 20 August 2020
The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge is thrilled to be shortlisted for the Best Age-Friendly Cultural Organisation Award in this year's Fantastic for Families Awards. We are an inclusive community space whose focus is to use our unique setting and inspiring collections to positively impact people’s health and wellbeing.
The museum runs an award-winning Health and Wellbeing programme, offering a range of creative groups for those living with dementia, social isolation, visual impairments and speech difficulties - all barriers that may be experienced in older age. Our historic building has been redesigned to consider the practical barriers people may face when visiting us, with the belief that cultural heritage should be enjoyed by all. We understand that older visitors have a wealth of interests and needs, which has allowed us to shape our programming to promote intergenerational relationships and encourage creative work that celebrates life in older age.
The Beaney’s age-friendly programming includes monthly Sensing Culture! workshops, The Power of the Object Group and Sounds Beaney sessions.
Our artist-led Sensing Culture! workshops encourage visually impaired adults to engage in object handling, tactile tours, and create artwork inspired by our collections. The tactile tours allow visitors to experience the museum’s paintings and sculptures through our ‘Touchable Beaney’ models, while object handling incorporates 3D prints of museum artefacts that otherwise couldn’t be handled. Some participants have practiced art all their lives, while others are getting creative for the first time! John, one of the group’s members, said that since losing his sight due to cataracts “I just can’t do things that I used to do but with this I can actually produce something. And it’s all thanks to The Beaney that I’m doing this.”
We also know a good chat over a cup of tea can go a long way! The Power of the Object Group offers those living with dementia or social isolation the opportunity to get close to the museum’s collections through object handling. The group provides a space for participants to socialise over a cup of tea and create something inspired by the artefacts they handle. Peter, a group member, said ‘It’s just generally a fun time for everyone and takes a bit of the stress out of everything.
Having closed due to Covid-19 back in March, we had to rethink the way we engage with our older audience. Members of The Power of the Object Group were able to join a new online platform, where they were invited to take part in creative activities and submit work inspired by photographs of the museum's collection. Those who weren’t able to access the online platform were supported by phone calls and participants who didn’t have access to art materials were delivered supplies by our group facilitators.
Since reopening in July, we have introduced a booking system with hourly visiting slots as well as a one-way route around the museum. The first hour of each day is a dedicated Accessible session with reduced capacity and full lift access. These sessions are designed for visitors with accessibility needs or for those who may benefit from a slightly calmer visit. As a result, we have been able to implement Covid-secure measures while ensuring the museum’s accessibility for our older audience.
Our team has also created a fantastic (and free!) Family Museum Trail that guides visitors around the museum via our one-way system. The trail encourages you to enjoy the galleries at a slower, socially distanced pace and is ideal for grandparents spending the day out with the grandkids!