Connections at the Asheville Art Museum

Launching in spring 2019, Connections is a new program serving community-dwelling adults with mild to moderate memory loss and their care partners living in WNC through the arts. This program builds and reinforces connections between:

  • program participants + art, artists, and ideas, through personally meaningful discussions and activities
  • adults with memory loss + their care partners, through stimulating, in-the-moment outings
  • adults with memory loss and their care partners + the Asheville Art Museum (staff, volunteers, Collection, and special exhibitions), through regular visits and programs
  • program participants + peers, through social interactions with those who are experiencing similar challenges resulting from memory loss
  • brain health + social participation, through multisensory engagement with art

Studies show that art therapy can enhance communication, brain function, and social interaction for people living with dementia. In fact, visual art can trigger dormant memories and emotions, inspiring conversations among patients who normally struggle to express themselves. Additionally, artmaking activities stimulate the whole brain of all people, not just adults with memory loss. Instead of simply responding to images, patients must plan, remember, create patterns, and use motor skills.

Connections is based on similar programs taking place in art museums in the United States and around the world that address the need for community gatherings and safe spaces to stimulate the minds of adults with memory loss (i.e. living with Alzheimer’s Disease, any form of dementia, and other memory loss), their care partners, and Museum staff and volunteers. Connections serves the Museum’s vision of transforming lives through art, and its mission of engaging and inspiring individuals and enriching community through dynamic experiences in American art of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Launching in spring 2019, Connections will take place once per month at the Museum. Led by specially trained Museum staff, contractors, and volunteers, the monthly Connections program will include:

  • An open house in the studio/classroom space preceding the start of the day’s programming, with light refreshments provided
  • A guided experience in the galleries that invites conversation about artworks in the Museum’s Collection and/or special exhibitions
  • A hands-on, artmaking, or other multisensory/interactive activity in the studio/classroom or gallery spaces that relates to the guided experience
  • An optional lunch in the Museum café, preceding the day’s program

Want to get the latest news about Connections and our inaugural programs? Please email Kristi McMillan, Adult Programs Manager, or call 828.253.3227 x122 to add your name to our email list!


Connections is generously supported by a Ribbon of Hope grant from the NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation. Many thanks to Club CarePartners and the Charles George VA Medical Center for participating in pilot programming, and to Dementia Friendly WNC for assistance with program design and training.