Date: April 14 – June 3, 2013
Partner: Baycrest Health Sciences and the Multicultural History Society of Ontario
Venue: Apotex and Water Cooler Galleries at Baycrest Health Sciences – map
Project Members: Naomi Lerman, Tobie Miller, and Vanessa Tamburro
JOURNEY THROUGH MEMORY was inspired by the internship experiences of each curator. Naomi Lerman interned at the Yeshiva University Museum. She worked with a collection of Judaica and in interpretive planning for a major exhibit. Tobie Miller interned in Baycrest’s Culture, Arts & Innovation Department, where she led the Museum on Wheels program. Vanessa Tamburro interned at the Multicultural History Society of Ontario, where she worked with a collection of oral histories. Combining the experiences and skills gained from their internships, curators set out to develop an exhibition in partnership with their host institutions – Baycrest Health Sciences and the Multicultural History Society of Ontario.
The project provided therapeutic opportunities for Baycrest clients through group and one-on-one reminiscence sessions led by curators as well as contributed to the preservation of the cultural heritage of Baycrest clients and Toronto’s Jewish community. As a pilot project, the exhibition also aims to encourage continued support and interest in client-centred care, community-building, and intergenerational learning through reminiscence therapy provided by Baycrest’s Museum on Wheels program. Museum on Wheels is an interactive program offered by the Morris and Sally Justein Heritage Museum. This program brings artifacts from the permanent collection to clients at Baycrest Hospital and the Apotex Centre, Jewish Home for the Aged. Clients are encouraged to hold artifacts and share personal stories in group reminiscence sessions.
Reminiscence is a reflective process that involves the use of artifacts to evoke emotional and personal responses about lived experiences. In one-on-one reminiscence sessions led by a trained facilitator, participants interacted with museum artifacts for the specific purpose of retracing, reviewing, and reflecting on memories. Each of the six participants engaged in a dialogue about their past, sharing empowering memories and reflecting on life stories.
Participants were not expected to recall specific facts. Rather, sessions provided opportunities for them to establish and share their own perspectives about their childhood, families, education, work, spiritual and religious life, and hobbies. Engaging with artifacts helped to evoke long-term memories and encourage the sharing of experiences and views seldom discussed in everyday conversations.
The curators discovered that reminiscence was an empowering process for each of the participants involved. Through the recollection of meaningful experiences, past accomplishments, and triumphs over adversity, participants experienced increased self-esteem and wellbeing. Reminiscence also encouraged storytelling, allowing individuals to pass on oral history and served as a means of intergenerational learning. Finally, sharing memories promoted socialization and allowed loved-ones, staff, and other community members involved in the project to build and support relationships with individual participants.
The design for all exhibition-related material is inspired by Baycrest’s graphic identity, created by Bruce Mau Design. The graphic typefaces are selected to be easy to read and the colours reflect Baycrest’s brand. Moreover, the exhibition is displayed in two adjoining gallery spaces – Baycrest’s Water Cooler and Apotex. The Apotex houses the artifacts used in the reminiscence sessions and the Water Cooler displays the participants’ reminiscence videos. Curators have created two exhibition spaces that stand alone but are also linked together by their didactic content and design.
Reminiscence is a powerful and positive process that prompts the sharing of memories and reveals the genuine personality traits of each individual participant. Visit Baycrest Health Sciences (3560 Bathurst Street) between April 17 and June 3 to embark on a journey through memory! For more information, visit http://www.baycrest.org/culture-arts-innovation.php.