NEW YORK, NY.- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
has partnered with Citymeals on Wheels on a new initiative to bring creative and art-focused activities, inspired by The Met collection, to older adults throughout New York City. The monthly Your Met Art Box features four art cards with full-color images of works from the Museums 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 Mets 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 two stamped, large-format postcards that act as free passes to the Museum. Recipients are encouraged to write and send these postcards to family and friends to inspire communication and community connection after a year of increased isolation among older New Yorkers due to the ongoing pandemic.
Art has the power to heal communities, said Heidi Holder, Frederick P. and Sandra P. Rose Chair of Education at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and these conversations between Citymeals volunteers and older adults centered around these masterpieces strengthen connections between people. Already, some recipients are using their passes to visit The Met with their friends and family, reconnecting with loved ones as our city re-emerges. We look forward to building on these relationships with our New York neighbors and making our collection accessible to all.
Vivienne ONeill, 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. Mays theme The Art of Refreshment, featured tea from local Chinatown business Grand Tea & Imports and multisensory activities such as tea tasting and drawing activities. Upcoming Your Met Art Box themes include The Art of Hospitality (June), exploring hospitality customs around the world with incense and an incense burner to examine the relationship between art, scent, and culture; and Summer in New York City (July), including art materials to design and create a paper fan. 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, but because of Covid-19, these weekly visits have shifted from in-person conversations to phone calls and video chats. Your Met Art Box, an initiative conceived by Holder and developed with The Mets 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 spring 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. Once volunteers are able to return to visiting recipients in their homes, these conversations and activities will shift to in person, opening even more opportunities for engaging and connecting with older people through art.