Memories flood back with museum’s nostalgic brands project

The power of association with well-known consumer brands is being used by a west London museum to spark memories in people living with dementia.

The Brand Memories project uses familiar household products, sounds and scents from the past to trigger reminiscence, responses and ideas, during creative sessions with individuals and groups.

The scheme, run by the Notting Hill-based Museum of Brands, aims to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people with dementia and their carers.

The museum is expanding the project to cover thousands more Londoners in its Living Brands programme, thanks to £120,000 funding from City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.

City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson said:

“This project is a really creative way of using the kind of brands we’re all familiar with in our daily lives to spark happy memories which may have lain dormant for many years.

“People who take part are encouraged to get creative and interact with one another, often with really striking results and a positive impact on their happiness and general wellbeing.”

The museum has been offering downloadable resources during the pandemic and is developing a postal resource box aimed at reaching people who aren’t online.

It is also working to develop resources aimed at specific communities, including west London’s Caribbean, Jewish and south Asian populations.

Museum of Brands Community Development Project Manager Abby Pendlebury said:

“Everyday brands such as packets of tea, baking ingredients or soap – their touch, smell and even the jingles used to advertise them – have a really emotive connection, not just for people with dementia but for all of us.

“We try and get people thinking about times from the past and use the different brands to trigger memories of family members or friends who they associate that brand memory with. This is used to start a dialogue; one we are hoping to share with the greater London population.

“People are often a lot more engaged than they were at the start of the session and there are some great moments of breakthrough. People start spontaneously telling us stories and we’ve even had people get up and start singing or dancing.”

Any individuals or groups interested in taking part are asked to email Abby Pendlebury at abby@museumofbrands.com while more information is at www.museumofbrands.com

The City of London Corporation’s charity funder, City Bridge Trust, is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of over £25 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

Case study: ‘They were really touched by remembering things from the war’

Anita Tsaneva, activities co-ordinator for a Brand Memories session at St Teresa’s Home, South Kensington, said:

“The residents really loved the presentation. They spoke about it for the rest of the day, and I think they were really touched and moved by remembering things and objects from the war and also by the positive efforts put into organizing and presenting the workshop.

“It was also so great to sit together and chat at tea time so all could learn a lot about the museum. It was a wonderful afternoon for everyone.”

Picture captions

- Erin Tuckey, project assistant from the Museum of Brands, running a reminiscing session at Victoria Care Centre, in Park Royal.

- Erin Tuckey and Alina Tiits from the Museum of Brands running a reminiscing session at Victoria Care Centre, in Park Royal.

- City Bridge Trust Chairman Giles Shilson

Notes to editors

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile, dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK – www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

The City Corporation is the sole trustee of Bridge Houses Estates, founded in 1097 to maintain London Bridge, and Members of its Court of Common Council form the Bridge House Estates Board.

Bridge House Estates is responsible for maintaining Tower, London, Southwark, Millennium and Blackfriars Bridges, and its charity funding arm City Bridge Trust – founded in 1995 – gives out over £25 million a year to good causes across the capital – www.citybridgetrust.org.uk

Tim Fletcher | Media officer – public services

City of London Corporation

07738 862229 | tim.fletcher@cityoflondon.gov.uk