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Combat Ageism. Your Future Self Will Thank You.

Category: Center for the Future Of Museums Blog

Of the many -isms we are grappling with as individuals and as a society, one of the strangest is ageism. Strange because, in the best case, we will all reach old age. So we are effectively discriminating against our own future selves. (From the perspective of museums, ageism also harms all our future constituents, in addition to our current communities of people “fifty-five and better.”)

And age discrimination combines with other forms of oppression to inflict disproportionate harm on communities already marginalized by our systems.

This situation cannot be allowed to persist. Museums have the power to help change the narrative about aging in America from stigma to empowerment, and to support and honor elders in their communities.

Join me and hundreds of museum professions committed to using the power of museums to foster healthy aging on Thursday, July 29, from 1–6 p.m. ET for The Museum Summit on Creative Aging. Together we will explore what museums can do to dismantle ageism, serve elders of all races and cultures, and support the most vulnerable in these communities.

The Summit is free but preregistration is required—I highly recommend you sign up now to reserve your slot.

What’s the program?

The Summit will kick off with a keynote by Daphne Kwok—Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Asian American & Pacific Audience Strategy at AARP—followed by a conversation on aging and equity with Lisa Sasaki, Interim Director of the new Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, and Edward Tepporn, Executive Director of the Angel Island Immigration Station. This conversation will be moderated by my colleague Andrew Plumley, Senior Director of Equity and Culture, who is leading AAM’s Facing Change initiative.

Staff of museums participating in the Aroha-Philanthropies-funded program Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums will talk about serving diverse communities of elders in “Learning from Experience: Older Adults, Ageism and What Museums can do about it.” (For a teaser of this content, read “Digital Gold: Queering Flat Spaces” by panelist Eli Burke, about the Tucson Museum of Contemporary Art’s creative aging programs for the LGBTQA+ community.)

The Summit will teach practical skills as well: Annie Montgomery and Maura O’Malley of Lifetime Arts will lead a workshop on “The Societal and Personal Impacts of Creative Aging,” with interactive exercises exploring ageism and the creative aging arts education program model.

Of course, ageing and ageism need to be addressed through a robust network of support. Daphne Kwok will join Maura O’Malley and Andrew Plumley for real talk about how museums can work with funders and other community partners to become a vital part of this network.

Finally, we’ll provide the opportunity for Summit participants to jump into more intimate Zoom groups with our panelists for a bit of virtual schmoozing, networking, and exchange of (digital) business cards—planting the seeds for long-term relationships and (we hope) projects.

Who should come?

Museum directors and senior leadership, for sure, to explore why older audiences are important to their museum’s own future, and how they can connect with funders and partners around the cause of healthy and equitable aging.

Education and programming staff, absolutely, to dig into the most effective and equitable methods of implementing creative aging programs at their museums.

Staff of funders and community organizations dedicated to supporting healthy aging, to learn how museums can amplify their own work (and connect with museum people who might be future partners!)

Finally, of course, anybody who expects to become an elder, in time, and thus has a personal stake in creating a better future for “perennials.” (I hope that includes all of you.)

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  1. Hi,

    So appreciative you are having this summit. As I already have a commitment at the time of the summit that will most likely preclude me from attending, I am wondering if a recorded version of it will be available online after the event.

    Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Tom,

      Thanks for your interest in the summit! Some segments will be available afterward as recordings to AAM members and registered attendees, but not the full event.

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