Edinburgh Museums and Galleries

Diana Morton, 15.07.2014
Since 2011, volunteers with the Museums Alive: Accessing Collections; Creating Connections have worked in care homes, day centres and supported housing to carry out art, reminiscence and music activities linked to Edinburgh Museums and Galleries’ collections.

The project aims to engage with older people who are physically unable to visit our venues and to improve wellbeing by offering meaningful activities and social interaction.

The volunteers usually visit a venue for five weeks before moving on. This ensures that the participants and volunteers feel comfortable working together. We often try to finish a block of sessions with an end product such as an exhibition or an artwork created jointly by the volunteers and participants.

The project is a partnership project between Edinburgh Museums and Galleries and Health and Social Care (both part of the City of Edinburgh Council). Working together enables the volunteers to access training from specialists in older people’s care and ensures that the project can meet the needs of the participating venue and the service users better.

As we have a team of volunteers, we can offer more one-on-one activities. This means that we can involve everyone in the group, even those who are harder to engage, such as those with advanced dementia, hearing loss or visual impairments.

The multi-sensory nature of the activities has also been particularly important in engaging with these participants.  

Feedback has been very positive, with one venue commenting: “The dedication of the volunteers and their enthusiasm was inspiring. They provided information and fun.” 

Diana Morton is the outreach and access manager for Edinburgh Museums and Galleries