HOMEBOUND SENIORS CAN FEEL A LOT BETTER
THE JEWISH MUSEUM AND SELFHELP’S VIRTUAL SENIOR CENTER
OFFER NEW YORK’S FIRST INTERACTIVE
CULTURE-TO-GO ART SERIES FOR HOMEBOUND SENIORS
SENIORS TO VIEW AND DISCUSS CONE SISTERS’ LANDMARK MODERN ART COLLECTION
IN COMFORT OF THEIR OWN HOMES, JUNE 1
New York, NY, May 24 -- For the country’s millions of homebound seniors, innovative collaborations like the one between Selfhelp’s Virtual Senior Center and The Jewish Museum may make staying at home a much more interesting proposition. The collaboration is believed to be the first in-home museum art series designed for homebound seniors allowing video interaction among senior participants and the museum’s educators. The June 1 program (which editors are welcome to attend by internet connection at 2:00 p.m., June 1) will focus on The Jewish Museum’s current exhibition, Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore. Featured are over 50 works from The Baltimore Museum of Art’s internationally renowned Cone Collection including paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by such artists as Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne, Renoir, and van Gogh. The exhibition reveals Claribel and Etta Cone’s bold and idiosyncratic affinity for modern art which was indeed ahead of its time.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Selfhelp’s Virtual Senior Center to bring these exceptional works of art, and the inspiring story of the sisters behind the collection, to homebound seniors – a critically underserved, overlooked segment of our country,” said Nelly Silagy Benedek, Director of Education at The Jewish Museum.
“Our work with The Jewish Museum is opening doors and offering something new and much appreciated by our seniors,” says Leo Asen, VP Senior Communities for Selfhelp. “Typically as one ages, mobility may be compromised, and opportunities for social interaction shrink dramatically. But now, thanks to technology, we have many more opportunities than impediments. One of our participating seniors told us how The Jewish Museum “visits” make him feel stronger physically and emotionally. Another explained how the many classes from the VSC have literally changed his life. Surprisingly enough, seniors adapt very quickly to technology. In fact seniors represent one of the fastest growing segments of the population to use computers and face-to-face virtual technology.”
The Virtual Senior Center has focused on providing innovative ways for homebound seniors to connect to a local senior center via computers and the Internet, so seniors can participate in live web-cammed classes. The VSC made its debut in New York about 15 months ago, as a test project developed by the City of New York, Microsoft and Selfhelp Community Services. Selfhelp, a nonprofit organization founded 75 years ago to help Holocaust survivors fleeing Nazi persecution, provides affordable housing and other services to a broad base of more than 20,000 seniors in the New York area. Its aim is to enable seniors to live independently in their homes. Today Selfhelp’s Virtual Senior Center is gathering steam, providing an extensive selection of live classes to senior participants and an assortment of person-to-person connectivity options and entertainment programming. Seniors can participate in classes on current events, armchair yoga, painting techniques, watch ballroom dancing competitions, enjoy live musical performances, and more. Some have used their broadband connections to reconnect with long lost friends, order groceries online, take part in virtual holiday celebrations, and give a virtual “hug” each morning to family members who live hundreds of miles away.
Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimore is on view at The Jewish Museum at Fifth Avenue and 92nd Street in Manhattan through September 25, 2011. Inspiring people of all backgrounds, The Jewish Museum is widely admired for its exhibitions and educational programs that explore art and Jewish culture.
The Jewish Museum and Selfhelp’s Virtual Senior center have collaborated on three previous live video/audio classes: the first two focused on the museum’s permanent exhibition, Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey, and the third presented a close look at the recent special exhibition, Houdini: Art and Magic. The latter class seemed to strike a chord with the seniors, with participants sharing stories about legendary escape artist and magician Harry Houdini from their childhood or asking the educator to reveal the mechanics of a particular illusion (which, by contract, the museum hosts are prohibited from sharing). Present plans call for four such collaborative programs a year but, the program may be expanded in the future.
The June 1 Cone Sisters live video/audio class will focus on how the visionary Cone sisters amassed one of the world’s greatest modern art collections. Participants will explore paintings and drawings by their friends Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, as well as by van Gogh and Gauguin. Examples of several of the sisters’ most treasured sculptures, jewelry, textiles, and more will also be discussed.
“In the early 1900s, Claribel Cone was famous for hosting salons in Baltimore attended by, according to a Baltimore newspaper of the time, ‘clever people in every walk of life—musicians, artists, writers, scientists—” and sparking discussions that were exciting and thought-provoking,” said Ms. Benedek. “The virtual seniors will be enjoying their own salon-style discussions where they can chat with experts and share their impressions with peers—only they will be chatting with the help of technology.”
“Programs like this are doing a lot to bring seniors closer together in mind and spirit,” says Mr. Asen. "It delivers socialization and cultural opportunities we couldn’t even have imagined a decade ago.”
“When I think of how the VSC programs are changing my life, it simply makes me want to cry,” says 87-year old Milton Greidinger. “I look forward to each event with great anticipation,” he adds.
Editors can make reservations to attend the June 1 (2 pm) Virtual Senior Center online class about the Cone sisters and their extraordinary modern art collection, by making a reservation. A proprietary url address will be provided for internet access.
For more information, contact:
Selfhelp Community Services
Director of Communications
The Jewish Museum