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updated 3/14/2011 2:10:33 PM ET 2011-03-14T18:10:33

A few months ago, Mark Lombard, a hospice worker in Dallas, Texas, promised Ms. Billie, one of his elderly charges, that if she worked hard enough at her physical therapy, he would take her to a museum to celebrate. Ms. Billie didn’t improve, so Lombard decided he would bring the museum to Ms. Billie.

In only the last 90 days, Lombard has persuaded the most prestigious art museums in America to donate digital images of their collections to the “For Love and Art” project, which uses digital picture frames to give elderly hospice residents with limited mobility a chance to interact with historic paintings one last time.

“It’s not so much art as the art experience. It causes joy, and it causes them to get out of their present circumstances and let’s them be young again,” Lombard told TechNewsDaily.

Already, 12 hospices have started using the For Love and Art devices, and another 16 are primed to ship out. The project uses 8-inch LCD digital notebooks from Digital Foci, each one loaded with almost 1,000 paintings from museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, L.A.’s Getty Museum and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Initially, Lombard just used paper reproductions of the works of art, which Ms. Billie collected into a scrapbook. It was only after he approached the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (ACMAA) in Fort Worth, Texas, that the project became digital.

Docents at the ACMAA had just started using digital picture albums for presentations when giving tours of the galleries, and so the combination seemed natural, said Katherine Moloney, the teaching resources coordinator at the ACMAA.

“[Visitors] reacted positively to the technology, so I figured, ‘well, it would be perfect for this situation,’” Moloney told TechNewsDaily.

In the last three months, the project has grown faster than anyone expected, Lombard said, and the plans to expand continue. Using the current project as a proof of concept, Lombard hopes to convince foreign museums like the Tate Modern in London, the Louvre in Paris  and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, to contribute their collections to the project as well.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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