Reunion seeks to provide a museum-based intervention that embraces social inclusion, health and well-being goals for seniors, including those with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
Venue: National Museum of Singapore
Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm (café closes at 5 pm)
The National Museum of Singapore has created the first purpose-built dedicated social space for seniors in a local museum. The space opens on 13 April 2023 and will support the museum’s initiatives for seniors, to encourage meaningful conversations and activities using the museum’s collection and exhibition galleries.
The space, which comprises a café and an activity space, supports the health and well-being of seniors, including those living with mild cognitive impairment and dementia. The activity space features a group activity area, an immersive projection cave, a Quiet Room, and music booths, to encourage group activity during the museum’s programmes for seniors and also enhance their museum-visiting experience.
A Space For Connections
Reunion provides a space for seniors to build relationships with old and new friends, as well as to relax and be rejuvenated from the day-to-day routine. Seniors can look forward to reconnecting with the past and relating their own stories and experiences with each other through programmes organised in the activity space.
The design team conducted research to ensure that the space is senior- and dementia-friendly, and together with the museum, engaged stakeholders throughout the design process. The stakeholders helped to choose the activity and dining chairs, colour of the entrance cove of Reunion and the interior, and even the flooring for the space.
Seniors can play and enjoy familiar tunes from different genres and eras at music booths or look forward to learning something new – be it a skill or information about Singapore – through the programmes presented by the museum at the adaptable activity space where hands-on creative activities will be conducted.
Reunion will also feature an interactive and immersive Memory Lane experience facilitated by the museum’s volunteers during a programme, where seniors can jointly curate a digital exhibition with others, inspired by their visit to the museum galleries and by the museum’s collection.
The interface for the multimedia experience has been designed to be senior-friendly – such as having larger fonts, ensuring sufficient contrast between the text and the background, and having shorter and clearer instructions.
Visitors who are susceptible to sensory disturbances and mood changes may choose to visit the dedicated Quiet Room in Reunion for a calmer environment, before resuming their activities. The room has been designed to help visitors calm down with different items to aid caregivers as well.
Visitors can also enjoy fresh bakes and wholesome food suitable for seniors, over hearty conversations in the adjacent café space, Café Brera at Reunion. Visitors can also order dysphagia-friendly food which are suitable for people with swallowing difficulties.
A majority of the Café Brera team also comprises seniors, as the café welcomes them to work, mingle, contribute and do things together. Inspired by Japan’s “The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders”, which seeks to create awareness and understanding for dementia, Café Brera and the National Museum likewise hope to empower seniors and contribute to an inclusive society.
With Reunion, the museum hopes to provide non-medical intervention to support the health and well-being of seniors living with mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
The museum has referred to the United Kingdom (UK)’s experience, where some museums offer programmes for seniors and seniors with dementia and are part of the UK’s social prescribing network that supports the health and well-being of its people. The National Museum hopes that Reunion, similarly to the museums in the UK, can contribute towards the diversity of platforms in catering to the needs of our seniors—through the unique connection between culture and healthcare.
As a first step, Reunion will focus on seniors living with mild cognitive impairment and dementia with the introduction of Refresh and Reconnect!, a new eight-week signature non-medical heritage-based intervention programme. This includes gallery tours led by the museum’s Care Facilitator volunteers and complementary hands-on activities that feature different art forms to encourage new learning among participants.
This complements the National Museum’s ongoing accessible programming such as Quiet Mornings, monthly senior-friendly tours and activities in conjunction with the museum’s special exhibitions, which will be held at Reunion.
A Space For Everyone
While Reunion is developed for seniors, the café is open to all visitors. Seniors, and all other visitors, can also walk in and enjoy the music booths or virtual exhibitions in the space before continuing their exploration of the museum, especially on days when there are no programmes being held in the activity space.
Reunion opens daily from 9am to 6pm, and the café opens daily from 9am to 5pm.
*Photo Credits: National Museum of Singapore