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  • Writer's pictureMatilde Pozzato

Groninger Museum Wants to Help People Feel Less Alone

The Groninger Museum is launching a shuttle service for Groninger residents who feel lonely and would like to spend a day with others among art.

The initiative will start on October 4th on the occasion of the Week Against Loneliness. As of now, the shuttle will only pick up people in Beijum, a northern district of Groningen.

From the beginning of 2024, the service will be available four days per week and will be open to people from both the city and the province of Groningen.

The service is available to anyone who is struggling with loneliness, explains Karina Smrkovsky, the Head of Communications, Marketing, and PR at the Groninger Museum. However, the museum expects the elderly to be the ones more drawn towards this project.

'Connecting with the elderly'

Smrkovsky tells The Groninger that loneliness among the elderly is an issue that concerns society as a whole and it is important to find a way “to connect with older people”.

As the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport reported in 2022, more than half of people aged 75 and older in The Netherlands are suffering from loneliness.

Karina Smrkovsky © Matilde Pozzato

With the shuttle bus, the museum wants to reach people from neighborhoods further away from the city center who are not regularly visiting the Groninger Museum. Also, with this initiative the museum aims to create a more diverse audience.

How does it work?

The shuttles will be scheduled in a way that people from the same neighborhood will be collected together and go to the museum weekly, in the same group, for two weeks.

The project initiators hope that this will encourage participants who live close to each other to build lasting friendships.

Once the visitors arrive at the museum, they take a tour of the exhibits and then take part in a creative activity. At the end of the day, the shuttle will drop them back off in their neighborhood.

Participants pay a small price to take part in the project which is also funded by the municipality, the province, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science.

Smrkovsky looks with excitement to the upcoming initiative: “We had great response on social media, people are in awe with the project and this is great.”

Groninger Museum © Matilde Pozzato

Gina Wietzes is an elderly resident of Groningen and did not know of the existence of this project. She is not used to going to museums and will unlikely use this service next year when it becomes available for more neighborhoods in the province of Groningen, she explains.

However, she thinks that “it is a good idea to plan visits like this.” She believes it is nice to give people who like art the possibility of visiting the museum in the company of others.

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