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Recollection is a project that uses objects to bring generations together to share and create stories. The project consists of two types of storytelling activities: personal object stories and collaborative stories. Personal object storytelling asks individuals to share a personal memento with a small group, sharing its history and meaning. Others connect with similar mementos, similar experiences, or through questions they have about something they’ve never seen before. Collaborative stories are created with groups of 6-12 individuals who use a shared set of objects as the starting point for a creative story that they write together. These activities are designed to be inclusive and to reduce isolation of older adults and people with dementia by providing conversation starters and valuing each persons contributions. The stories collected and shared are incorporated into a designed exhibition that travels to participating adult care facilities and senior centers.

Plans for Recollection 3.0

Recollection 3.0

Storytelling through Mementos

This version of Recollection is currently underway to address the extreme isolation older adults, and particularly those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, are facing and the extra burden and stress caregivers are experiencing as a result of COVID-19. This latest iteration of Recollection includes free virtual training for storytelling facilitators–professional staff and volunteers at adult care facilities, as well as family members serving as caregivers. Additionally, we are developing DIY kits with guided storytelling exercises and templates to display the stories created and shared. We have tips for how to adapt these storytelling sessions for virtual environments, one-on-one sessions, and really smalls groups.

Like in past iterations of Recollection we are developing a traveling exhibit designed specifically for adult care facilities and senior centers that can be customized for content created with local seniors. The exhibit system includes easy to sanitize surfaces and ways to interact that don’t require touching the exhibit to address health and safety concerns.

Student designers include: Angel Belford, Kyle Curtis, Jose Gomez, Darold Housley, Caroline Mooney, Taylor Powderly, Fran Rescigno, and Madelyn Smith.


  • Department of Art and Design at SUNY Oswego
  • Tyler Art Gallery at SUNY Oswego
  • Central New York and Northeastern New York chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association


The third iteration of the project is currently supported by the Leon J. Goldberg Alzheimer’s Resource Program and the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York. The SUNY Research Foundation manages our grant funds.

Recollection: Storytelling through Mementos 2.0 edition. Photo by Peter Cardone.

Recollection 2.0

Storytelling through Mementos

Starting in 2018 this project shifted from having a primary audience of students, to having a primary audience of older adults based on the feedback we received after Recollection 1.0 went on an unplanned tour across Central New York adult care facilities.

We maintained a focus Alzheimer’s and dementia, by developing ways for folks at various stages of these diseases to be active participants in the creation of the content for the exhibit. We were inspired by the TimeSlips project which uses images to facilitate conversations with people with dementia to do the same type of activity using physical objects and introducing the ability to engage multiple senses. Our storytelling sessions centered on tactile experiences complemented by opportunities to explore sight, scent and sound.

We ran storytelling sessions at five adult care facilities where we engaged residents in sharing stories about personal mementos as well as creating stories using objects likely to remind them of their childhood or early adulthood. We took professional photographs of participants and the objects they shared to accompany the stories they told in our physical exhibit and exhibition catalog. The physical exhibition was designed using a truss system (usually used for trade show booths) including about 12 linear feet of content that could be adapted to a wide variety of unconventional exhibition spaces like wide hallways and community rooms.

Student designers include:

Kelsi Bryden, Julie Farquhar, Liliya Gapyuk, Kimberly
Grunden, Nicole Lightfoot, Kayla Matthews, Rasheda McLean, Tyler Morgan, Ngan Nguyen, Miles Petersen, Hannah Sojka, and Carly Violante.

Photography by Julie Farquhar.

View Recollection 2.0 exhibition catalog (PDF).


  • Art Department at SUNY Oswego
  • Tyler Art Gallery at SUNY Oswego
  • Town of Clay Senior Center (Clay, NY)
  • The Hearth at Greenpoint (Liverpool, NY)
  • Loretto Cunningham Facility (Syracuse, NY)
  • St. Luke Health Services (Oswego, NY)
  • The Manor at Seneca Hill (Oswego, NY)
  • Morningstar Residential Care Center (Oswego, NY)


The second iteration of the project was supported by a Community Arts Grant from CNY Arts Decentralization Grant, the Leon J. Goldberg Alzheimer’s Resource Program, and the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York. The SUNY Research Foundation manages our grant funds.

Recollection: A Memory Awareness Project 2014) installed at The Cunningham in Syracuse, NY.

Recollection 1.0

A Memory Loss Awareness Project

Recollection originally started in 2013 as a project to educate college students about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia through the arts. The project included a workshop by Elizabeth Boivin, the executive director of the Northeastern New York chapter of the Alzheimer’s associated, on using artworks to engage people affected by memory loss in conversation in a museum setting; a workshop by Ann Thayler, also from the Alzheimer’s Association, on how to run their Memories in the Making program; a screening of the film Quick Brown Fox (2004) by filmmaker Ann Hedreen (Seattle, WA); and an interactive exhibition that included the short film No Hole in My Head (2011) by Alison Segar and a series of student illustration works, and 2 large interactive installations designed by college students in collaboration with staff and residents at St. Luke Health Services in Oswego, NY. The exhibit was mounted in Tyler Art Galler on SUNY Oswego’s main campus in January of 2014 and at the Metro Center campus in March of 2014. Upon request, the exhibit was adapted and installed in six additional non-gallery sites throughout Central New York, including one library in Onondaga County and five adult care facilities in Oswego, Onondaga and Cayuga counties.

Student designers included: Tim Ano, Katelyn Cardone, Mallory Eckert, Sean Gnau, Tong Lu, Katie Morelli, Evander Russ, and Alan Wisniewski.

View Recollection 1.0 exhibition brochure (PDF).


  • Art Department at SUNY Oswego
  • Tyler Art Gallery at SUNY Oswego
  • The Commons on St. Anthony (Auburn, NY)
  • Loretto Cunningham Facility (Syracuse, NY)
  • St. Luke Health Services (Oswego, NY)
  • The Manor at Seneca Hill (Oswego, NY)
  • Menorah Park (Syracuse, NY)
  • The White Branch, Onondaga County Public Library (Syracuse, NY)


The first iteration of the project was supported by SUNY Oswego’s ARTSwego and Auxiliary Services, Entergy Corporation, as well as the Leon J. Goldberg Alzheimer’s Resource Program. The SUNY Research Foundation manages our grant funds.

Our Team

Our team is made up of artists and educators who care deeply about using the arts to bring communities together.

In addition to our project directors, we have incredible support and contributions from SUNY Oswego Art and Design students. Our student staff are made up of interns, paid assistants, students enrolled in a special topics course, and students completing independent studies.

Our logo was designed in 2013 by Stephanie Armour-Dobrowolski.

Special thanks to SUNY Oswego emeritus faculty member, Sewall Oertling, who encouraged us to start this project in the first place.

Michael Flanagan

exhibit Director

Michael is the Director of Tyler Art Gallery at SUNY Oswego. He co-founded the Recollection project in 2013.

Rebecca Mushtare

Design Director

Rebecca is an Associate Professor in Interaction Design at SUNY Oswego. She co-founded the Recollection project in 2013.

Seeley Cardone

Storytelling Director

Seeley is a licensed counselor and registered art therapist, and faculty member at SUNY Oswego. She joined the Recollection project in 2018.