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NEW REPORT: Museums Can Help to Combat Ageism Through Creative Aging Investments

Category: Press Release



ARLINGTON, VA — The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community, today released a landmark report entitled “Museums and Creative Aging: A Healthful Partnership,” calling on museums to change the narrative about what it means to grow old in America. The report, commissioned by AAM and funded by Aroha Philanthropies, a private foundation dedicated to creative aging, finds that cultural institutions can actively support older people and address issues of ageism by providing creative aging programming.


Older people today control almost 70 percent of the nation’s wealth and by 2050, one in five—almost 2 billion—people will be 60 or older, presenting an enormous, untapped constituency that museums could engage to foster healthy aging. In light of this, the report includes recommendations for museums to engage thoughtfully and meaningfully with America’s older population, such as: 

  • Invest in a diverse array of onsite and online creative aging programs
  • Work actively to combat society’s prejudices toward older people, or “ageism”
  • Foster new kinds of research and partnerships to further these goals


These recommendations incorporate specific tactics museums can implement, including:

  • Facilitating intergenerational programs in artmaking
  • Offering ongoing training in intergenerational understanding and communication skills
  • Investing in a deeper understanding of older people who visit museums and those who do not.


Creative aging programs are a research-driven educational methodology for older adults. They promote positive and healthy aging through sustained engagement with high-quality, artistic practices and can empower older adults to develop their creativity while making and strengthening community connections and friendships.

“Creative aging programming brings people together, and as we have seen during the pandemic, opportunities to connect and be creative alongside others are essential to the wellbeing of older adults,” said Teresa Bonner, executive director of Aroha Philanthropies. “As bastions of community and culture, museums have an ethical imperative to embrace the creative aging movement and to position themselves as places for older people to seek out meaningful social connections, rediscover a sense of purpose, and engage in joyful experiences.”

“Museums can enrich the lives of people at all ages and are essential to increasing access to creative aging programming across the country, in-person and virtually,” said Laura Lott, president and CEO of AAM. “This report demonstrates the positive effect museums have on social connections, happiness, and health outcomes for diverse older audiences.”

AAM will host a national Summit on Museums and Creative Aging on July 29, 2021. At the summit, individuals and museum staff can explore the myriad benefits of creative aging programming. Registration will open on June 29.




About Aroha Philanthropies

The mission of Aroha Philanthropies, a private foundation, is to awaken creative expression and build communities through the arts. Its work focuses on three distinct areas: arts learning for adults age 55 and better, arts education programs for children and youth, and adult residential mental health and the arts. Each of these program areas addresses the vital role creativity can play in everyone’s life.


About the American Alliance of Museums 

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit


Press contact:

Natanya Khashan
Director, Marketing & Communications
American Alliance of Museums

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