How can the Van Gogh Museum remain accessible for the growing group of elderly people in the Netherlands? This is the key question addressed by the ‘Age Friendly Van Gogh Museum’ programme.
The Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to being accessible to everyone, and inclusion is the primary concern. The museum’s inclusion policy is geared towards young people, young residents of Amsterdam, people with a physical disability and the growing group of elderly people in the Netherlands. In addition to focusing on the group of active over-70s, in recent years, the museum has also turned its attention specifically to vulnerable elderly people. It can be difficult for this group of people to experience art independently.
Inclusion for the elderly
The museum strives to make a positive contribution to the well-being of the elderly by inspiring and enriching them with the life and work of Vincent van Gogh. On the one hand, elderly people are physically stimulated to visit the museum. On the other, our programmes foster social interaction, and participants are encouraged to (re)discover their talents.
Elderly meet Van Gogh
In recent years, the museum has worked closely with partners in the health and welfare sector to improve the cultural participation of elderly people. The successful Elderly meet Van Gogh (Kunst maakt de mens) programme was the first tangible result of this partnership.
The University of Amsterdam has conducted research into the impact of Elderly meet Van Gogh on the well-being of participants. This research revealed that the programme encourages elderly people to actively participate in art and culture. It also clearly stimulates a desire amongst elderly people to participate in more activities in this field.
The next steps
The research into Elderly meet Van Gogh has been completed, but the programme continues. Elderly people can still participate in creative on-location workshops and the museum is also developing new activities specifically for the over-70s. In January 2018, the museum started hosting special afternoons for elderly visitors. The programme responds to the specific needs and desires of the target group and supports participants wherever necessary.
Age Friendly Museum Network
The Van Gogh Museum is keen to share its expertise and experience with other institutions. The museum is continually seeking new, innovative means of activating elderly people. An expert meeting was organised early in 2018 to launch knowledge exchange in this field. In the years ahead, the museum will work towards creating an Age Friendly Museum Network: a network of like-minded museums dedicated to making their institutions accessible to elderly people. An infographic has been created summarising all that the museum has learned about working with elderly people.
Contribute to the network
The Van Gogh Museum establishes the best approach through remaining in consultation with the target group and experts in the field. If you would like to share an idea or contribute to the Age Friendly Museum Network, please get in touch by sending an email to Marthe de Vet (Head of Education and Interpretation).
Download the museum’s Education Policy Plan to find out more: