Strengths and Challenges of Arts-Based Programming for Individuals With Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias

  • Sara Clarke-Vivier Washington College
  • Corie Lyford Currier Museum Art Center
  • Lynn Thomson Currier Museum Art Center
Keywords: well-being, shared meaning, musuem, arts-based, Alzheimer’s disease, learning


Through the perspectives of a museum educator, an art educator, and an educational researcher, this article explores the evolution of shared definitions of “well-being” in the development of a museum- and arts-based program for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). By piecing together the authors’ first-person reflections on pivotal program design moments with images, participant quotes and reflections, and emerging quantitative data, this bricolage inquiry provides insight into the complex and sometimes competing conceptions of wellness and learning that arise in designing programming with and for this population and their caregivers.

Author Biographies

Sara Clarke-Vivier, Washington College

Sara Clarke-Vivier is an Assistant Professor of Education at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Her research explores teaching and learning at the intersections of formal and informal spaces, such as schools and museums. She is particularly interested in how issues of conflict, complexity, and controversy emerge and are navigated by educators at these intersections. Sara holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of New Hampshire as well as undergraduate and master’s degrees in developmental psychology and human development and learning.

Corie Lyford, Currier Museum Art Center

Corie Lyford, Outreach Coordinator and Assistant Art Camp Program Manager at the Currier Museum Art Center, is a graduate of Bridgewater State College in Art and English. As a painter, she is inspired by New England landscapes and architecture and exhibits her acrylic and collage pieces locally. In addition to her management responsibilities, she has served as an instructor in the youth and outreach programs at the Art Center for the past 10 years. Corie has a specialized interest in developing and teaching art curriculums designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias as well as adults with developmental disabilities.

Lynn Thomson, Currier Museum Art Center

Lynn Thomson, Manager of Family Programs and Community Engagement, has a BA in Photography from Lesley University and a MA in Museum Education from Tufts University. In her role at the Currier she develops programs for children, families, and adults. Her passion lies in working with community organizations to connect underserved audiences, including seniors and Veterans, with art. Prior to the Currier, Lynn worked at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA for 12 years and held various positions, including Acting Director of Education.

How to Cite
Clarke-Vivier, S., Lyford, C., & Thomson, L. (2017). Strengths and Challenges of Arts-Based Programming for Individuals With Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias. LEARNing Landscapes, 10(2), 97-113.