Our History

The SPARK! Program

SPARK! Is a cultural program for people with memory loss and their caregivers. The inception of SPARK! began with a grant from The Helen Bader Foundation (now Bader Philanthropies Inc.) in 2009. The Bader Foundation’s Alzheimer’s and Aging program aims to make Wisconsin a leader, not just in how challenges posed by this disease are addressed, but in how growing older and the later stages of life are viewed. Through an emphasis on program development, applied research, and public policy, the Foundation strives to offer hope to families struggling with Alzheimer’s.

SPARK! was originally inspired by the  Meet Me at MOMA program, a successful outreach effort at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and has continued to grow and foster engagement activities using sensory stimulants combined with visual art conversations, music, poetry,  hands-on art making, movement and creative performances.

The SPARK! Alliance

SPARK! Alliance is a foundation of museums and cultural centers committed to the inception, development, facilitation and sustainability of cultural programs for people with memory loss and their caregivers.

In 2009, the founding 10 institutions chosen by the Helen Bader Foundation (now, Bader Philanthropies, Inc.) established a forward thinking program of collaboration and cross connected policies and procedures that help new institutions and organizations begin engagement programs that are accessible to families living with Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss. These programs focus on life-long learning, providing quality of life experiences while living in the moment and inspiring creative expression through engaging the senses.

The SPARK! Alliance has continued to develop and grow as individual organizations and through collaborative trainings and program development. Hosting an annual engagement training and conference, the SPARK! Alliance works together to cultivate, strengthen and multiply programs centered on the art of memory loss engagement. By providing the infrastructure, tools and resources, this implementation model can be easily adjusted and tailored to organizations of all sizes and designs throughout multiple districts.

The SPARK! Alliance institutions are situated regionally in Wisconsin and Minnesota and now consist of over 22 museums and cultural organizations.