A trip down memory lane

As Museum Engagement Officer for Museum of Design in Plastics (MoDiP) in Bournemouth, I recently delivered two museum outreach sessions for Brendoncare, using a variety of artefacts to connect people together and help talk about their past.

As Brendoncare is a registered charity who focuses on improving the quality of life for older people, I was particularly keen to see what the benefits would be to members taking part in the session. Having previously worked in care homes, I have seen first hand the benefits of similar activities for older people and how they can improve their wellbeing.

My first visit in March was to Winton Friendship club at Winton YMCA. It was great to see members and where they meet on a regular basis. As members arrived, I walked around to introduce myself and create conversation, putting them all at ease. After a general introduction, we continued with the ‘Do you remember?’ session, using the handling collection from MoDiP.

Fun and games

To engage members actively, we had some short activities that offered an opportunity for everyone in the group to get involved. The use of a blue constellation/celestial globe money box was a great starter as an aid for members to share where they were born, revealing that some members had lived in one place all their lives whilst others had lived all over.

To evoke memories, I asked everyone to think about a plastic object which they had used in the past or present and then to write it down on a piece of paper. These were then read aloud and club members were encouraged to share why they had thought of that specific object and what it meant to them. It was fascinating to hear different stories, sometimes about the same artefact. It was wonderful to see people come to life talking about their past and it created a lot of laughter amongst the members. This really demonstrated how objects possess meaning, giving members the chance to remember positive experiences from their past.

The next activity was ‘guess the artefact’ where a drawstring bag, containing another artefact, was passed around. Members were asked to feel the object from outside of the bag without peeking inside – to use their sense of touch to make a connection about what it might be. They were asked to keep their guesses to themselves until everyone had taken their turn. This certainly created a lot of fun and giggles before we did the big reveal and really just offered members a different way of recognising familiar, everyday objects.

Reminiscing about the past

During a similar visit to Haviland Springers club in April, I had the opportunity to meet and listen to members about the benefits of attending social groups. One particular member caught my attention. They spoke about how memories and talking about the past stay with you and you don’t forget them, even if you don’t remember what you did the day before! They also went on to talk about the fact that the group offers a way of connecting with older people, “I didn’t go out last night or last weekend so I’ve nothing to talk about what I’ve done recently, but I can talk about the past.

Images:

A trip down memory lane,

About the author:

Sarah Jane Stevens

Sarah Jane Stevens, is Museum Engagement Officer at the Museum of Design in Plastics who has built up over 11 years’ experience curating and engaging audiences with museum collections. In her spare time, she enjoys walking and baking.

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