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The Beany House of Art and Knowledge – Power of the Object

The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge is a museum, gallery, library and visitor
information centre in the heart of Canterbury, Kent. Since reopening in 2012 the museum has focused on health and wellbeing, developing a programme of regular groups and events which use art and culture to support participants’ wellbeing. As part of our commitment to being a therapeutic museum, the programme has expanded across all areas of museum activity, from exhibitions to collections and learning..

Power of the Object is our regular monthly group for people living with dementia, their carers and those at risk of loneliness. Each month has a themed object handling session, where participants can be hands-on. exploring the collection with object handling and gallery visits.

Generally the group will start with an introduction to the theme, followed by an object
handling session of related objects. For example, this month's session is all about mental illness – to tie in with our current exhibition “A Place of Safety” which features artwork by inpatients from mental health wards around the county.

The group will have an opportunity to handle objects related to the exhibition themes,
including apothecary labels and medicine bottles. There will be a facilitated visit to the
exhibition and then participants will return to the group for a creative activity, such as making their own medicine bottles with the treatments they’d like to see – Kindness, Understanding,Patience and Listening.

There is a lot of research that shows object handling sessions can positively impact the
wellbeing of people living with dementia. We have also found that it is useful for carers to attend and meet other people who understand their experiences. This social aspect of the group is really important to attendees and it has been wonderful to see friendships develop over the years.

The most important feedback for us is from the participants themselves, who have given us some wonderful feedback. One specific comment made was how safe and relaxed the session felt and how much as a couple they enjoyed coming. They always made a ‘day of it’ in Canterbury as they live 15 miles away. Others have commented that they feel “happy and connected”.

The success of the group is also down to skills and input of the facilitators. Some lovely
feedback about the facilitators came from a regular attendee who said “I feel happy in this space with like minded people, so lovely to be with the ladies who are so caring”.
Power of the Object facilitator Jane works with volunteer Shelley who has worked with the group since it first started. They ensure the sessions are relaxed and welcoming and provide the all important cups of tea. Jane says members are more than welcome to bring a carer or friend, you’ll be made to feel very welcome in the museum and we look forward to meeting you.

Power of the Object is open for new members. Anyone interested in joining the group can find out more by visiting the web page here:

Or emailing

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