Warkworth Museum takes memories to senior citizens

Museum volunteer Brenda Yoxall has been collecting items to make up the Memory Boxes for months.

Warkworth Museum is launching a new ‘Memory Box’ initiative to take a range of objects out into the community for people who can’t easily visit the collection themselves.

Portable containers are being filled with items from the past that can be used to encourage memories, generate discussion and share past experiences by retirement home residents, seniors clubs and dementia patients.

Manager and curator Victoria Joule says the idea came from discussions with museum community and education volunteer Brenda Yoxall, after seeing the pleasure that groups visiting the museum get from discussing memories associated with items on display.

“We were talking about the fact that there are lots of people who can’t get to the museum and how we could extend out to reach those people,” she says. “I happened to be looking online at a museum in the UK, and they had these memory or reminiscence boxes, and we thought ‘what a great idea, we can do some boxes and take the museum out to those who can’t visit us’.”

Since then, Brenda has been busy putting together objects for an initial range of eight boxes under the following categories: Wash Day; A Woman’s Day; Gadgets and Gizmos; It’s a Man’s World; Glitz and Glamour; Going out in Style; School Days; and Play Days.

Objects range from small tools, household items and tobacco tins through to jewellery, gloves and knitting patterns. Brenda has sourced them from the museum’s secondary collection of items not on display, volunteer donations, local op shops and TradeMe.

“Handling items in the boxes and talking about them can help to trigger long-term memories and reminiscences, which can help encourage short-term memory as well,” Victoria says. “It can be a great way to build relationships between carers and patients, and residents and families.”

Precise details of the scheme have yet to be finalised, but Victoria says the aim is to keep it free for small groups that offer services such as dementia support, with a possible minimal fee for larger retirement homes and villages that could keep the boxes for a fixed period.

“We don’t want financial cost to be an inhibitor,” she says. “Any fee would be small, just to cover replacing items if they’re damaged, our volunteers’ petrol costs and so on.”

“We want to encourage larger retirement homes to rent a box for two weeks at a time, so they can use it as much as they like over that time. If it proves popular, there may be scope to create an annual membership. But for small support groups, we want to provide it as a service that can help.”
Info: Warkworth Museum on 425 7093 or warkworthmuseum@xtra.co.nz


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