Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash
Homebound older adult recipients of Citymeals across New York City’s five boroughs will receive an art box to promote connection and well-being through art making and volunteer-led conversations about art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has partnered with Citymeals on Wheels in a renewed initiative to bring creative and art-focused activities, inspired by The Met collection, to older adults throughout New York City. The program previously piloted in 2021 and will relaunch in November 2022.
The monthly “Your Met Art Box” features four art cards with full-color images of works from the Museum’s permanent collection, along with questions and activities to encourage seniors and Citymeals volunteers to explore art and art making together during weekly conversations. Citymeals volunteers received training from The Met’s Education Department on techniques and approaches to facilitate engaging conversations about art. The box, whose contents will be tied to a monthly theme, will also include materials and other items that engage the senses; a booklet of bonus information about each featured work of art; and a pass for free admission to the Museum.
“Research tells us that art experiences—looking, talking about art, and making art—have positive effects on overall well-being,” said Heidi Holder, Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chair of Education at The Met, “and the conversations, poetry, and making that happens between Citymeals volunteers and older adults, centered on art masterpieces, helps to strengthen connections between people, a key factor in positive well-being. Some older adults have written to us, sharing their paintings and writing. In many cases, these art boxes have rekindled artistic talent and brought joy to households. We are also encouraged to see recipients using their passes to visit The Met with their friends and family, reconnecting with loved ones through art. We look forward to building on these relationships with our New York neighbors and making The Met the go-to place for those seeking art experiences that support positive well-being.”
Vivienne O’Neill, Senior Director of Volunteer Programs and Corporate Engagement at Citymeals on Wheels, added: “Citymeals is thrilled to partner with The Met to bring the arts to homebound elderly New Yorkers. Many of our recipients have fond memories of trips to the Museum but are no longer able to stroll the galleries. With these monthly art boxes, sent directly to their homes, Citymeals recipients and the volunteers who visit with them can enjoy the wonder and inspiration of art.”
Each month “Your Met Art Box” is sent to over 1,000 Citymeals recipients and volunteers. For the inaugural month, November, recipients can explore the theme of Games through selected artworks from The Met collection and activities such as playing cards and drawing. Upcoming “Your Met Art Box” themes include “The Art of Giving” (December), featuring works of art associated with gifts and gratitude, and “Keeping Cozy” (January), including wintry scenes and cold-weather objects from the Museum’s collection and hot chocolate for recipients to smell, taste, and enjoy. All recipients have elected to receive the art box and to be part of these volunteer-led conversations.
Citymeals’ Friendly Visiting program pairs caring volunteers with isolated meal recipients throughout the city who are in need of companionship through in-person visits, phone calls, and video chats. “Your Met Art Box,” an initiative conceived by Holder and developed with The Met’s Education and other departments across the Museum, aims to use art to decrease social isolation and promote overall well-being through art making and volunteer-led conversations about art.
In fall 2021, The Met offered virtual training sessions to nearly 100 Citymeals volunteers who hold regular phone calls with art box recipients. At each training session, a Met educator facilitated demonstration conversations and activities relating to the works of art featured in the box and offered tips and strategies for engaging seniors in conversations about art, including adaptations for those with various disabilities. Volunteers are conducting both in-person visits and remote conversations with recipients on a case-by-case basis. These conversations and activities open more opportunities for engaging and connecting with older people through art.
“Your Met Art Box” is made possible by Mary Jaharis.
About Citymeals on Wheels
Citymeals on Wheels (citymeals.org) provides a continuous lifeline of nourishing meals and vital companionship to nearly 20,000 homebound elderly New Yorkers. Working in partnership with community-based organizations and senior centers, Citymeals has prepared and delivered over 6 million weekend, holiday, and emergency meals since the start of the pandemic. Last year, nearly 23,000 volunteers gave more than 83,000 hours of time to Citymeals’ mission.
Since its founding in 1981, Citymeals has relied on the generosity of its Board of Directors, the City of New York, sponsors, and other designated gifts to cover administrative costs. This ensures that 100 percent of all public donations will be used entirely for the preparation and delivery of meals.
About The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met presents art from around the world and across time for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in two iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online. Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.
About The Met’s Education Department
Dedicated to making art accessible to everyone, regardless of background, disability, age, or experience, the work of The Met’s Education Department is central to the Museum’s mission to engage local and global audiences, making our collection accessible to all. The Education Department currently presents over 29,000 educational events and programs throughout the year. These programs include workshops, art-making experiences, specialized tours, fellowships supporting leading scholarship and research, high school and college internships that promote career accessibility and diversity, access programs for visitors with disabilities, K-12 educator programs that train teachers to integrate art into core curricula across disciplines, and school tours and programs that spark deep learning and lifelong relationships with and through art.
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