This month kicks off a new, exciting, and free monthly program at the MSV!

By Adult Programs Manager Sally Meyer

Memories at the MSV is specifically designed for participants with early stage memory loss (Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, etc.) and their caregivers in order to have a relaxing and joyful experience outside of their daily routine. In the Education Department, we’ve been hard at work getting ready to welcome participants to this program.

Looking and talking about art has proven to have some pretty amazing health benefits, including reduced stress levels, reduced reports of pain, and improvements to overall quality of life. It has also proven useful in sparking memories and conversations for people with memory loss. Several museums across the country have established programs much like the one we are hosting here, including the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire, and the Kreeger Museum in Washington, D.C.

Each program will have the same basic format: participants will arrive to enjoy refreshments and social time with each other, visit the galleries to look at historic artifacts and art, then return to our workshop space to make their own artwork or decorative object. The goal is to be in the moment and have fun, an ideal goal from an educator’s perspective.

Each month we will select a different gallery or topic to explore with participants. For the first session on October 16, we will explore a visitor favorite in the Shenandoah Valley Gallery: the 1830s and 1930s kitchens! If you’ve visited the MSV, you likely would have seen these blasts-from-the-past already. Trained museum educators will take the group up to the galleries to explore these spaces and learn more about them. We’ll take time to look at some of the more unique or unusual objects in these kitchen vignettes, as well as things that are familiar.

Afterwards, we’ll head back downstairs to our workshop space where everyone can make a lavender scented sachet. Sachets are small scented bags that you might remember your parents or grandparents keeping in a linen closet growing up. They were used in the 18th and 19th centuries often to keep linens and home fabrics smelling fresh. Today, since the invention of washing machines and detergents, they are not a requirement for a nice smelling home, but they are fun to make. Those who enjoy sewing will get to practice their skills, while those who are not seamstresses will learn a simple stitch and create something new.

The November 20 program will focus on portraits and participants will design their own picture frames. On December 18, the program will focus on etchings on view in Rembrandt and His Contemporaries: Prints from the Dutch Golden Age and participants will design holiday cards to take home.

We hope you’ll join us for a relaxing morning spending time together, seeing the MSV galleries in a new way, and creating! The MSV galleries and Learning Center are wheelchair and walker accessible. Seating will be provided for all participants. To register or for any questions, call 540-662-1473, ext. 226, or send an email to

Many thanks to the Alzheimers Association National Capital Area Chapter for providing training and guidance for staff and volunteers.