Very many thanks to everyone who generously 'donated' information about recent reminiscence projects in reponse to my recent request. Thought a quick round-up might be useful for others, so here goes (it's a long'un - sorry!):
If you want some international examples, I can certainly contribute a Hungarian one. The Foundation for Museums and Visitors and the Hungarian Museum of Trade and Tourism had a project where two groups of elderly people came to 5 sessions each in which they discussed topics connected to restaurants, cafés, etc. where the museum education officer showed some objects for handling, the elderly people talked about their memories, there were some pictures on PP and some info given by the museum ed. officer, and they prepared something at the end (eg. melange, mojito, icecream etc).
We asked them to contribute their special recipes as well and we prepared them a small booklet at the end from pictures shown by the MEO and taken during sessions as well as quotations from their memories and their recipes. (All sessions were recorded in some way but not all of them were good quality and the museum has never used the material yet)
There is a short film about the project at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKq2MpDcEs4
You might want to look at the Stratford Explorers project http://www.anewdirection.org.uk/programmes/stratford-explorers - a wonderful intergenerational project that used reminiscence work to create a beautiful map of Stratford.
Don't forget to have a look at GEM's own project, Sounding Out Your Heritage, which involved working with over 60s in small groups over several weeks exploring and sharing their personal histories to produce story books, audio CDs, leaflets & posters, and a memory box & sensory quilt. It is clear that providing activities for older people involving reminiscence can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on their health and confidence, and dramatically improve the quality of their lives. Full details are on the GEM website where you can download the resulting toolkit. There are also some links to other organisations working with older adults.
Last academic year at our college in Barbados, I worked with my students on an inter-generational project called Tug-of-War, a Community Drama presentation on the increasing generational gap between our youth and elders. The final product was an interactive presentation which was created from a number of process-based activities.
During the first semester, students conducted interview, spent time at private care homes for the elderly and observed the behaviours of the youth and elderly in various environments. The presentation was a dramatic re-presentation of true stories and observations, and it highlighted some of the issues and concerns which arose from the research process. The piece was presented to a live audience (of varying ages) for examination purposes at the end of the first semester - they were also required to use Drama-in-Education techniques to facilitate interaction with the audience. During the second semester, the actors toured some of our local secondary schools and facilitated workshops with the students.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to present the work to the elders because of budgetary and 'political' constraints, nor were we able to do the extent of evaluation or documentation that I would have wished. However, I hope this could be of some use to you as an example of inter-generational/reminiscence work in the Caribbean.
I saw a great presentation at the Ecsite conference a few years ago about a reminiscence project for senior citizens run by the Museu de les Aigues near Barcelona about their 'memories of water'. As I remember it used a combination of pictures and objects to stimulate reminiscences and coffee to create a relaxed atmosphere (!), followed by time in their historical exhibition. I think the older visitors were encouraged to leave comments about their experiences and memories which were subsequently used by school groups studying history.
It looks like the person who gave the talk has since moved on but they still run the activity, 'Una Pluma De Agua' or 'Una Ploma D'Aigua' depending on the language you select - you can find it on their website under educational activities for older people and (hopefully) here: http://www.museuagbar.com/gentgran.php?agenda=5
Unfortunately the education part of the site isn't available in English so it might take a little clicking around on the Catalan or Spanish versions of the site but I'm sure they'd be helpful if you contacted them for more information.
A few years ago Reading Museum started providing a reminiscence service.
It involves roughly 40 boxes of objects that are delivered to care homes, sheltered housing etc around the Reading Borough area through a partnership with the mobile library.
We also provide staff members that use the boxes with training in leading rem sessions so they are comfortable with handling and initiating conversations.
I've attached a link to our webpage which will give you a few more details on the service. Hope it helps! http://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/get-involved/reminiscence/
We at Lighthouse did a project last year entitled Past Present which involved a lot of reminiscence work involving young people interviewing elders about their experience of home front WW2 in Brighton. This was edited with footage from film archives of home front WW2 footage, and then deposited in a 3D role play computer game platform which the young people helped to design, with the help of the older people's stories and reminiscences... The game is called Lives at War, and exists as a downloadable or online playable game for free, teaching young people (or anyone interested in playing computer games!) about WW2.
Lives at War can be found here: http://www.lives-at-war.org.uk/
Information about Past Present can be found here: http:// www.lighthouse.org.uk/programme/past-present?query=past%20present
Norfolk Libraries and Information Service have recently launched a scheme where local residents can book reminiscence kits out on their library cards in the same way they can books. This project has been supported by Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service.
You might like to take a look at the films on this website.
These were made as part of a HLF Face to Face project, 'documenting experiences of conflict'. 11 interviews were made in all, together with a compilation and a 'making of'. Only one interview and the 'making of' are currently online as the other material is being used in learning sessions at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. The interviewers were year 5's (aged
10) and the interviewees ranged in age from 30's to 90's.
The project was shortlisted for the Clore Museum Learning Award and was among the last four in 2010. A follow on project, currently in production, has been commissioned by the NMRN for their forthcoming C20th Gallery.
Dr Amy Jane Barnes
School of Museum Studies
University of Leicester
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