Memory Spaces Collaborative Conference

In 2012, a team of curators at the Den Gamle By museum in Denmark and a group of researchers based in the Aarhus University Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Center on Autobiographical Memory Research began an innovative form of art therapy utilizing museum settings to engage dementia patients and their care givers.  In 2013, the research team published their findings in the Journal of Consciousness and Cognition, concluding that patients recalled more memories in the immersive museum setting. In an effort to learn more about this phenomenon, and to examine the relationship between art and memory, this conference provides a platform for the researchers behind the Den Gamle By program to present their work. This conference is also an opportunity to think about how art history can consider this phenomenon historically and in the contemporary sphere, and to explore how an interdisciplinary team of researchers including art historians can create low-cost spaces for dementia sufferers and their caregivers in New York City and beyond.  This conference is organized by Dr. Alexander Nagel and second-year M.A. student Sarah Mallory.


Session I: 2:00 - 3:30
Museums and Dementia Therapies

Introduction: Alexander Nagel, Sarah Mallory

The Scandinavian Idea of Open Air Museums and Their Use by the Public; Memory and Artifacts: What is the Language of Artifacts?: Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen and Martin Brandt Djupdræt

The First Courses for Elderly Suffering from Dementia in Den Gamle By: Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen and Henning Lindberg

Making the House of Memory: A Flat Designed for Elderly with Dementia: Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen

The Dementia Programs in the House of Memory: Henning Lindberg

Break: 3:30 - 3:45

Session II: 3:45 - 5:00
Objects, Memory, and Dementia

The Effect of the Method at Den Gamle By: Research in Autobiographical Memory Using Interior and Objects: Dorthe Berntsen

Programs for Caregivers and Students in the House of Memory: Henning Lindberg

An International Dementia and Museum Project: Active Aging and Heritage in Adult learning (AHA): Martin Brandt Djupdræt

Results from AHA and Other Ideas: Martin Brandt Djupdræt and Dorthe Berntsen

Conclusion and Perspective: Sarah Mallory


Dorthe Berntsen is a professor of psychology at Aarhus University. She is the director of the Center on Autobiographical Memory Research, which is a Center of Excellence funded by the Danish National Research Foundation.

Martin Brandt Djupdræt is head of research and presentation at Den Gamle By. He is responsible for the development of content, including programs for people with dementia and other groups which seldom use museums.

Henning Lindberg is head of the department of living history and the department of reminiscence at Den Gamle By (awarded in 2016 with the NCK pedagogical prize for his international work with people with dementia).

Tove Engelhardt Mathiassen is curator at Den Gamle By. She has special responsibility for the history of private life, the collections of historical dress and textiles, the early period rooms of the museum and historical gardens.