SCARAB beetles and bhangra bagpipes, footie scarves and even Sam the tiger – Glasgow’s Open Museum has been sharing the city’s magical collections with communities here for 30 years.

The coronavirus pandemic put paid to its regular outings but the team came up with an innovative plan which ensured hundreds of older people and those with dementia stayed connected during lockdown.

Curator Diana Morton explained: “Increased social isolation, especially for older people in the community, or those living with dementia and with underlying health conditions, can negatively affect mental health – so with Covid-19 impacting upon our work, we had to adapt what we do.”

She added: “Working alongside Alzheimer Scotland, Weekday WOW factor and Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, we found ways to ensure older people continue to value their memories, learn new things, take part in challenges and creative activities. and even take a walk in Egypt, all from their own sofas and inspired by artworks and objects from Glasgow Museum’s collections.”

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She added: “While much of life has gone digital, not everyone has access to the internet nor can afford to continually top up their data.”

The team normally has access to more than 80 themed ‘reminiscence kits’ full of museum objects on topics from pubs and parks to schools and shipbuilding.

“They’re great for starting conversations, remembering times past and discussing Scottish history,” added Diana. “We recorded a ‘live’ reminiscence session with archive photographs, which Alzheimer Scotland’s Bridgeton Dementia resource centre included on a DVD they sent out to 300 households across the city.

“The social aspect of the Open Museum is really important - bringing people together, especially those who might find it difficult to visit our museum venues, to share stories and experiences and expertise,” said Diana.

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“Community knowledge brings welcome new perspectives to our collections.”

The Weekday WOW Factor runs a range of activities for people who are socially isolated, including a popular weekly disco which was held online during lockdown.

Open Museum Next Step trainee Carolina Perez said: “We’ve been attending this joyful event every Monday, contributing digital activities and quizzes based on museum collections. The hope is the sessions will continue after restrictions are lifted, to give those who can’t get to the physical disco the chance to participate.”

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The Open Museum team has also created weekly activities for Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS).

Bronwyn Tibbs, Community Support Services Coordinator at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said: “By working with the Open Museum, we have been able to put together some amazing tasks, which have brought a little normality back into people’s lives.”

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Diana Morton added: “Covid-19 has been a time of unprecedented change for everyone, including the Open Museum, but over the last 30 years we have constantly learned to adapt, led by our partners’ ideas and interests.

“It is important people are involved in co-producing culture and creativity at home or locally in neighbourhoods and the OM will be there to support this in whatever way it can.””