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Active Ageing and Heritage in Adult Learning (AHA)

Exploring the impact of open-air museums on older people with memory problems.

This active ageing research project explored the impact of reminiscence sessions in open-air museums for older people with memory problems. Impact was considered in terms of wellbeing outcomes for the participants (as perceived by their accompanying carers) and learning outcomes for the carers.

About the research project

University partners were invited to participate in the project and lead the evaluation activity. A mixed methods approach was used. Newcastle University staff led on the development of the evaluation protocol, data management and contributed to the analysis of the quantitative data.

An outline session was developed in collaboration with the museums’ staff, which could be delivered across all sites, allowing data to be aggregated. The project was a successful example of a co-produced, international evaluation project.

Research findings

The resulting data set was large enough to allow meaningful statistical analysis. The findings supported the hypothesis that the sessions promoted short-term wellbeing in participants with memory problems. The qualitative data provided insights into what participants and carers found most valuable in the sessions. Notably, this includes encountering social-historical objects in appropriate period settings.

Funder: Erasmus+

Duration: March 2015 to August 2017

PI and further team:

  • Prof Rhiannon Mason (PI) - Media, Culture, Heritage, School of Arts and Cultures
  • Dr Areti Galani (CI) - Media, Culture, Heritage, School of Arts and Cultures
  • Dr Bruce Davenport (RA) - Media, Culture, Heritage, School of Arts and Cultures



  • Linnaeus University (Sweden)
  • Aarhus University (Denmark)


  • Jamtli (Sweden)
  • Den Gamle By (Denmark)
  • Beamish Museum (UK)
  • Maihaugen (Norway)
  • Skanzen (Hungary)