Tampa Museum of Art Partnership

Since 2015, the USF Honors College has participated in a partnership with the Tampa Museum of Art that provides research opportunities for students as well as a vital service to the community. In a Capstone course called Connections, Honors students learn about medical conditions such as dementia, depression, and PTSD and are trained to facilitate interactions with works of art for patient groups dealing with these diagnoses. Upon completion of the course, students facilitate special tours at the Tampa Museum of Art on a weekly basis. The program is based on the Meet Me at MOMA Alzheimer's Project, which strove to make art accessible to people with dementia, and has been highly successful and lauded by healthcare professionals, museum staff, and participants alike. Students in the Visual Thinking Strategies method of art exploration, which allows participants to give their own personal interpretations of works of art without fear of judgment or failure. Particularly in people with Alzheimer's, depression, and PTSD, this method has been found to help patients access and express memories, practice or regain their communication skills, externalize emotions, relieve stress and anxiety, and promote positive emotions. Through this community partnership, students also participate in furthering the research in the areas of art, medicine, and mental health. The partnership with the Tampa Museum of Art has also grown to include internship opportunities for students as well.