Cultural programming for people with memory loss

SPARK! at Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM) is a unique program designed specifically for people with memory loss and their care partners. SPARK! programs offer participants an opportunity to enhance their quality of life through social engagement, mental stimulation, and communication. The SPARK! Alliance is a group of cultural organizations across Wisconsin and Minnesota committed to offering quality programming for people with memory loss. We aim to help shift the focus from the deficiencies that are often associated with memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias to the rich and satisfying experiences that are possible.


Is SPARK! for me?

SPARK! is for adults living with memory loss and related dementias in the early to middle stages and their care partners.  

What should I expect at SPARK!?

You should expect to be at the Museum for about an hour and a half. Program attendees will meet at the front desk of the Museum. We will walk to one artwork where we will sit and discuss the piece. Expect to see between 3 and 4 artworks during the program. Each program will have a theme, for example, during one program we might look at artworks that portray “life on the high seas.” We hope to have a vibrant conversation about the artwork, but there is no pressure to talk or “say the right thing.” 


What should I expect as a care partner?

This program is as much for care partners as those living with memory loss. Care partners are encouraged to actively participate! We strive to make this experience as welcoming as possible by adapting the environment to meet physical needs and making sure everyone is comfortable and safe.


Why should we come to SPARK!?

Research in the field of memory loss is continuing to show that creative engagement not only enhances the quality of life for participants, but also aids in better overall health.*   

*Cohen, Gene D., Susan Perlstein, Jeff Chapline, Jeanne Kelly, Kimberly M. Firth, Samuel Simmens. “The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on the Physical Health, Mental Health, and Social Functioning of Older Adults.” The Gerontologist  46 (2006): 726-734.

When is SPARK!?

MMAM SPARK! is the first Wednesday of every month from 10:30am-12:00pm.  

Is there a cost to participate?

No. This program is free thanks to the generous support from Winona Health.


How do I sign up?

Registration is easy. Please call Curator of Education, Heather M. Casper, at 507-474-1910 to sign up for this program. If this is your first time participating, you will be asked a few questions regarding any limitations or special needs. Registration for each month’s program is on a first come, first serve basis. We will take approximately 8 pairs per program. Each pair must call every month to reserve a spot.


How do I get there?

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum is easy to find. We are located on Riverview Drive in Winona. If you are coming from Highway 61, turn north on Huff towards town. Follow Huff until you get to the Mississippi River and the road will turn left and become Riverview Drive. The Museum is about one mile down on the right. Call or check our website for additional directions. 


QUESTIONS?  Call Heather Casper, Curator of Education, at (507) 474-1908.

Upcoming SPARK! Dates: