Image: Images of some of the objects from a US package on the My House of Memories app © MNHS
You may have heard about the My House of Memories app, which we co-created with and for people living with dementia as a conversational tool. The app is bit like a mini-museum in your pocket which is filled with everyday objects from the past, brought to life with sound effects and evocative music.
In September, we were proud to launch a new American element to the app, featuring objects from the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS). The Minnesota Historical Society worked closely with elders from the local African American community on choosing objects to reflect the history and memories that they felt were important.
Image: A father and daughter explore the My House of Memories app together © MNHS
While the app features key moments in American history such as man’s first landing on the moon, it also includes a fascinating insight into life in the twin cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. Music is an important part of the cities’ identity and this comes through in the pictures of disco dancers at the Riverview Supper Club. At the other end of the musical spectrum is the electric guitar from rock band Soul Asylum.
Sport features heavily, from ice hockey and ice skating reflecting the state’s cold winters, to the all-American pastimes of basketball, baseball and of course, American football. Rural life is captured in items such as home-canned relish, fresh farm eggs, prize-winning cattle and hay wagons.
It may be surprising to learn that the app also includes a number objects from United States military history, such as the iconic ‘boonie’ hat used in the Vietnam war. Veterans in Minnesota were keen to ensure that their lives in the Armed Forces were also represented.
Other aspects of American culture featured include transport (greyhound buses, Highway route 61) and holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving.
However, we did manage to squeeze a little bit of Liverpool in as one of the photographs is of The Beatles during a press conference in 1965, before they played the Metropolitan stadium!
You can download the My House of Memories app from our website and find out more about the app's features. Just choose the American flag to switch to the US packages.
The Mayo Clinic’s Charter House, Rakhma Homes and St Paul African American Faith ACT Community are community partners on the US House of Memories programme. Support for the US programme is provided by an Institute of Museum and Library Services planning grant and prestigious Community Anchors grant, and the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on Nov. 4, 2008.