Arts education and dementia

Enabling cultural participation in museums

More and more museums are offering inclusive programmes to encourage the participation of people with dementia in culture. Especially art can arouse emotions, evoke memories, stimulate conversation, inspire, visually provoke and trigger associations. At the same time, a visit to a museum represents a certain degree of "normality" and social participation for those affected as well as for their caregivers. After all, the diagnosis of dementia is still associated with isolation and stigmatisation. The commitment of the museums by offering appropriate cultural education programmes has in particular helped to raise public awareness for the issues of ageing and dementia and the challenges they pose to society.

Currently, almost 10 million people in Europe alone suffer from dementia. This number will certainly increase in the future and engagement with art and culture can demonstrably lead to an improvement in the quality of life (Thomson/Lockyer/Camic/Chatterjee 2018). Some museums already have many years of experience in art education for people with dementia (Ganß/Kastner/Sinapius 2016), others have only just started their programmes or are in the process of designing them. In addition to direct cultural education programmes, an important aspect is cooperation and networking with associations and organisations from the social and care sectors. Cooperation with universities and research institutes is less common, although these are of great importance with regard to the transfer of new research findings and the implementation of jointly developed effectiveness studies.

Inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation seems particularly promising with regard to so-called "multi-component interventions" for older people with dementia or those at risk of dementia (Fancourt/Steptoe/Cadar 2018). For example, initial studies have shown that visiting exhibitions and participating in art and cultural education programmes as part of preventative measures, in addition to controlling medical risk factors, physical activity and optimal nutrition, can slow down the course of the disease and reduce the risk of dementia (Ngadu et al. 2015).

The symposium will provide a retrospective and an outlook on different approaches from art and cultural education as well as university research, and also address the topic of dementia prevention. The focus will be on the experience of art, the viewing of art and the aesthetic experience rather than artistic and art-therapeutic approaches.

In addition to presenting best practice examples from art and cultural education and cultural geragogy, we would also like to explore the following questions:

  • How can existing experiences, for example in completed projects, be further used and shared?
  • What special challenges does the isolation of seniors, as experienced during the Corona Crisis, pose for mediation and what are possible solutions?
  • What might dementia prevention measures in arts education look like?

We are particularly looking forward to submissions that address questions on institutionalisation and capacity building, possibilities of digital mediation formats for people with dementia and dementia risk, and long-term scientific studies.

Dates and information

The symposium takes place as a cooperation event of the Chair for Cultural History and Museum Collections and the Chair of Dementia Studies at the Danube University Krems.


The conference will take place online via Zoom on May 11, 2021 from 9.30-16.30.


The deadline for submission is April 7, 2021, the decision will be communicated by mid-April.


Presentations are limited to 10-15 minutes, followed by a short discussion.

Please send your abstract (max. 1 page) + short vita to:

For information on the symposium, please contact:


Back to top