Arts and Dementia

Ben Uri Strategy


Ben Uri Arts and Dementia Institute:

The newly formed Arts and Dementia Institute, grown around our Wellbeing department, is led by Professor Victoria Tischler who took over the responsibility from Professor Michael Baum and is managed by Alix Smith and Emma Hollamby. The underlying philosophy is to use art differently and exploit the characteristics of our diverse  collection to support mental wellbeing. This is the culmination of a decade of trials and experimentation working with a wide community of clients in residential care homes, day centres and art studios.

The focus has grown from developing art activities for older people to clinically defined and measured programmes addressing cognitive levels pre and post comparative exercises within Ben Uri designed programmes.

Dementia affects more than 850’000 people in this country and is a huge and growing issue for families, society and the National Health Service alike. Loneliness similarly and the Ben Uri Research Unit is actively refining programmes that could slow the natural progression of dementia.

Our principle objectives are to develop portable, replicable packages that can be used extensively across the country with leader notes and best practice using reproductions from the Ben Uri collection.

Other programming has been developed through the leadership of the distinguished Art Therapist and lecturer Jane Landes.  We support trainee art therapists within their university placements, give talks and training to a wide range of institutions, and provide gallery tours and art workshops to clients with a broad range of needs.

We have similar objectives of researching and developing cost effective programming, using the museum collection as its source, and rolling the package out nationally.

Please see the Ben Uri Strategy for 2019 here: 

There is a growing understanding of the impact that taking part in the arts can have on health and wellbeing. Since we were founded over a 100 years ago, we have been engaging with individuals and groups to connect and share art in the traditional gallerey and museum context. By extending the reach and adding a growing research division we are able to bring people together to share culture, creativity and activities which are refined to be meaningfully beneficial for mental health, we have been able to measure  the incremental benefits to individuals and communities alike.

2016: Presented abstracts of our strategies, research and findings on PROVACAT at the International Arts and Humanities Conference 2016 (Seville)
2017: Presented at the International Research Conference on Arts & Dementia 2017 (London)

Ben Uri’s Wellbeing programmes:


Creative Spaces

Taking Ben Uri Gallery and Museum out of our home to those who can’t reach us or other institutions

Creative Spaces enables Ben Uri to facilitate and share inspiring and creative programmes in the community at large. Using materials and techniques which wouldn’t be possible in the gallery space, from printing and painting to sculpting, textiles and even gilding, it brings the joy and thrill of creativity to those often permanently or majority confined to their home space.

Picturing Memories

Art Therapy in the community

This programme also uses our rich collection as its core resource. We continually research and refine to develop art therapy programmes which in the fullness of time will be able to be another portable and cost effective product that can be shared nationwide. As part of Ben Uri’s commitment to arts and health, we have been supporting the placement of a trainee Art Therapist from Roehampton University over the past two years. 


Clinical research simulation in addressing the progress of dementia within older people in the community

PROVACAT is the title of this important programme researching, developing and comparative measuring two linked programmes addressing the museum’s collection. The potential is enormous given initial results which suggest a measurable slowing of the rate of dementia within some of the client groups. If successfully developed the opportunity to replicate and roll out across wider geographical areas and ultimately be adopted within the NHS umbrella is open and achievable.


Wellbeing News, Partnerships and Events

Zalia Zogheib conducted an interview with local couple, Hannah and Jacob, and produced an article exploring the value of art to people living with dementia. 

Ben Uri hosted a sold out panel discussion on ‘Migration and Wellbeing’. Art therapists and artists came together with members of the public, including refugees, to explore the role art can and should play in combating trauma, alongside the responsibilities of galleries and museums, like Ben Uri, to be actively involved and provide accessible platforms.

Listen to edited highlights of the panel discussion below

Tania Kaczynski and Shan Rixon, art therapists from New Art Studio and practising artist Cedoux Kadima were all ‘Migration and Wellbeing’ panel members. The event was chaired by Ed Dickenson, Wellbeing Officer at Ben Uri Gallery.

Find the  Wellbeing & Migration recording summary here.

Ben Uri works in partnership with the Netherwood Centre, Kilburn and trainee art therapist Charli Paterson from Roehampton University. We were the subject of a central feature in Jewish Renaissance magazine; read the article here.

Ben Uri has supported a wide range of partners and is always interested in expand its provision. In addition to working with the elderly, we have worked with refugees and asylum seekers through partnering with the New Art Studio and similarly with Resources for Autism.

Excerpts from an interview with Afghani refugee Sayed. 

Sayed talks about his journey from Afghanistan to the UK, his early experiences of being an Asylum Seeker and the importance of making art to him.

To explore ways in which your organisation could work with Ben Uri, please

Contact Wellbeing

or Call: 020 7604 3991

Contact Ben Uri Wellbeing Department