Qualities of the Participant Experience in an Object-Based Museum Outreach Program to Retirement Communities


Reminiscence programs that stimulate participants’ memories through discussion are popular as both enrichment activity and clinical treatment for older adults. Museums in multiple countries are starting to offer reminiscence opportunities on-site and through outreach. This study is an investigation of the qualities of the participant experience in a reminiscence museum outreach program using historical artifacts. The outreach program was implemented at 12 retirement communities around the Boston area. Using participant and staff interviews, audio recordings of conversations during the program, and focused observations, the study shows that the program was characterized by sensory exploration, cognitive and emotional responses, memory-sharing, and socialization. These findings support previous research showing the cognitive and emotional benefits of reminiscence in multi-session programs, and they suggest that single-visit object-based museum outreach may also elicit positive psychosocial outcomes.

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Last updated on 11/02/2015