Open Gallery for the Community

Dementia-friendly art viewing project 

Open Gallery, an art viewing project for people living with dementia, and their family members/carers, takes place at Waterford Healing Arts Trust on Thursday 19 September at 3pm, and will continue once a month until December.  Open Gallery invites participants to look at, discuss and enjoy paintings from the University Hospital Waterford (UHW) art collection in a safe and welcoming space, supported by professional artists.  Admission is free, but space is limited so places should be booked by contacting WHAT on (051) 842664 /

In each Open Gallery session, three paintings from the UHW art collection are discussed by the participants.  These paintings usually have a theme, for example, landscapes, portraits, colour etc.  Each session lasts about one hour and finishes with a cup of tea and a lively discussion.  Participants do not have to know anything about art or to have any experience visiting art galleries.  The sessions are about enjoying art together, making observations and learning how to look at and into paintings.  Open Gallery is facilitated by professional artists Caroline Schofield and Jill Bouchier, both of whom have been working with WHAT for a number of years.  Open Gallery is supported by the consultant geriatricians, occupational therapists and nursing staff at UHW and WICOP (Waterford Integrated Care for Older People).

Announcing details of the project, Claire Meaney, Acting Arts Director of Waterford Healing Arts Trust said “Open Gallery is a wonderful opportunity for people living with dementia in the community, and their family members and friends, to enjoy art and create new memories together.  Each session is really enjoyable, with all sorts of topics coming up through chats and observations about the paintings.  Everyone is welcome – you don’t need to have any prior knowledge or experience of art.  People often tell us they didn’t know what to expect, but they really enjoy the sessions and they come back again, which is a great sign!”

Open Gallery is funded by the Arts Council and the Hospital Saturday Fund, having been initially funded by Waterford City and County Council.  The project is inspired by the internationally renowned Meet Me at MoMA programme of dementia-friendly art viewing workshops, devised by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and introduced to Ireland as the Azure Programme by the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny, in collaboration with Age and Opportunity, The Alzheimer Society of Ireland and IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art).

Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) is Ireland’s leading arts and health organisation.  Established in 1993, WHAT brings arts experiences to the bedsides of patients at University Hospital Waterford and other healthcare settings.  WHAT believes that the arts contribute to the wellbeing and vitality of society and that engaging with the arts stimulates the participant’s sense of identity and creativity.  WHAT supports the development of arts and health in Ireland and manages the national website