Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Opening Minds through Art (OMA) is an intergenerational art-making program designed for people with dementia. It was founded in 2007 at Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University, an Ohio Center of Excellence in Cultural and Societal Transformation. OMA has become a central expression of the Scripps commitment to this transformation in aging policy and practices.
OMA is a bridge-building program that partners students, families, caregivers and volunteers with people who have dementia to provide them with innovative opportunities for artistic expression. OMA has developed over 100 visual art projects that enable people living with dementia to successfully generate artwork. The resulting artwork is comparable to modern art created by master artists. At conferences, OMA often shows its artwork next to images by master artists and asks the audience to guess which piece was created by an OMA participant. The audience usually has difficulty deciding.
OMA has been replicated at over 50 retirement communities throughout the US and Canada. At Miami University, OMA’s home base, over 1,000 students have gone through the program. OMA recently received a grant from the state of Ohio to replicate the program in 100 additional retirement communities.
OMA has a strong research record with multiple academic publications, generates beautiful artwork, and has developed all the tools for successful replication. It provides an opportunity for volunteers, families and caregivers to engage around the strengths of the person with dementia.