This article is over 7 years old

Arts & Culture

Art Appreciation Brings Alzheimer’s Patients Together

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston is taking a creative approach in reaching out to Alzheimer’s patients.


To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code:

<iframe src="" style="height: 115px; width: 100%;"></iframe>

Looking Together docent Dorothy Murphey leads a discussion on French artist Andre Drain’s The Turning Road, L’Estaque. Participants are encouraged to describe their interpretations of the art featured each month.


Ellen Box and her daughter Allyson Koether have been coming to the classes for a couple of years. Koether says they found out about the program from the American Alzheimer’s Association.

Ellen Box is one of the people who take part in a program at the MFAH called, “Looking Together.” It’s a monthly art discussion designed especially for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients.

Box says she had never really studied art much until she started coming to the classes. Then in December, she had a stroke. This is her first time back in six months.

Her daughter, Allyson, says the classes encourage conversation among the patients and their caretakers.

“It’s something to keep your mind stimulated. To get them talking and the social aspect of it — to be with other people – and not be isolated,” Allyson says.

The MFAH got the idea from a similar program at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Each class has a different theme every month. This time, it was on paintings involving water.

Anne Haas is one of the docents.  

“It’s subjective; it is not based on memory. So, especially for Alzheimer’s, where we know memory is an issue, it becomes an open discussion just on feelings, interpretation,” Haas says.

“Looking Together” is open to early-to middle-stage Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Classes take place on the second Monday of each month inside the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Beck Building.

Today in Houston Newsletter Signup
We're in the process of transitioning services for our Today in Houston newsletter. If you'd like to sign up now, fill out the form below and we will add you as soon as we finish the transition. **Please note** If you are already signed up for the newsletter, you do not need to sign up again. Your subscription will be migrated over.