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The last year and a half has posed unique challenges for many vulnerable communities, but the aging population has been particularly impacted by the social restrictions and isolation brought on by the pandemic. Citymeals on Wheels, already a lifeline for elderly New Yorkers, significantly ramped up its efforts since the COVID-19 crisis began, preparing and delivering over three million meals.
Now, the nonprofit is partnering with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to fulfill the artistic and creative needs of older adults in the city by bringing the museum to their doorsteps. “Your Met Art Box,” a monthly delivery of art materials and activities inspired by works in the Met’s collection, engages seniors in stimulating dialogues and connects them to the city’s cultural treasures while many of them remain homebound.
The box is sent to over 1,000 Citymeals recipients and volunteers, with a different theme each month — such as “The Art of Refreshment” in May, which included a curated selection of tea from the local Chinatown standby Grand Tea & Imports along with multi-sensory, drawing and tea-tasting activities. July’s theme, “Summer in New York City,” will feature materials and instructions to design and create a paper fan. Every week, volunteers trained by the Met’s Education Department lead virtual conversations about the month’s selected artworks, encouraging socializing and community-building among recipients.
“Many of our recipients have fond memories of trips to the Museum but are no longer able to stroll the galleries,” said Vivienne O’Neill, Citymeals’s Senior Director of Volunteer Programs, in a statement. “With these monthly art boxes, sent directly to their homes, Citymeals recipients and the volunteers who visit with them can enjoy the wonder and inspiration of art.”
For those who feel ready to venture to the museum in person, two large-format postcards included in each box act as free passes to the museum.