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Toward a National Convening on Museums and Creative Aging

Category: Alliance Blog
Photo by Roel Dierckens on Unsplash

Here are a few facts, to put you in the frame of mind to think (hard) on the power of aging creatively and the rich opportunities we have in museums to redouble our efforts to engage older adults and grow from their contributions:

Fact: I.M. Pei was 78 years old when he designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Fact: Frank Lloyd Wright was 91 when he designed New York’s Guggenheim Museum.

Imagine these cities and our culture without such cherished and iconic cultural resources!

We needn’t look far to witness and benefit from the achievements of “olders,” as Ashton Applewhite calls our demographic in her recent and acclaimed book, This Chair Rocks. (Fact: Ashton herself was employed at the American Museum of Natural History for twenty years). I highly recommend reading this “manifesto against ageism!”

Ageism will be one of the key topics discussed at our national convening on museums and creative aging in Atlanta in November 2020. Please mark your calendars and spread the word, as this entire conference will be dedicated to how we in the museum field can draw on the prodigious findings of leaders in this still-nascent field of creative aging.

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Just one more inspirational anecdote about the power of aging creatively before I get to a question for you:

Oliver Wendell Holmes retired as Chief Justice at age 91. Soon afterwards, President Franklin Roosevelt paid him a visit in his study and found the Justice reading Plato! Roosevelt asked, “Why do you read Plato?” Holmes’s response, simply: “To improve my mind.”

How can our field improve our own minds about the potential for creative aging in museums? The convening coordinating committee is interested in hearing from you. Please fill out the questionnaire below with your top four choices from the list of sample topics that could be included in our two-day convening. Of course, we cannot address all of the topics listed, and you may want to nominate additional ones for consideration. But this survey will help us home in on what we would like to learn more about. Remember, too, that we are in the early stages of our work. With good fortune (and funding!) there will be ongoing opportunities ahead.

So, with that we would like you to study the list below and please let us know your first four choices.

I look forward to hearing from you!


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Bill Tramposch

Aroha Senior Fellow for Museums and Creative Aging

American Alliance of Museums

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1 Comment

  1. Hello Bill,

    Thank you so much for writing about this subject. I fell that many staff in museums ignore this audience. I have been fortunate to have worked on a brilliant program created by Betty Sharpe at the National Museum of American History many years ago and in every subsequent position I had at another institution have created a program based on her model. We need to be working with and for this ever expanding audience.

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