This is a recorded session from the 2020 AAM Virtual Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo.
How can museums embrace the ‘Aging Revolution’ with purpose and intentionality? Learn from four museums that are developing programs for older adults with the aim of creating connections, increasing well‐being, decreasing social isolation, and offering new pathways for learning.
Presenters: Laurel Humble, High Museum of Art; Eli Burke, Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson; Mary Ellen Munley, MEM and Associates; Lisa Ortega‐Pol, Museo de Historia, Antropología y Arte; Danielle Schulz, Denver
Laurel Humble: Good morning, everybody. I believe it’s time for us to get started. My name is Laurel humble. I’m the head of creative aging and lifelong learning at the high Museum of Art in Atlanta.
And I’m reporting to you from a closet in my apartment. And this is where I do all my most important business because it is where I can most successfully hide from my 18-month-old, so
Please forgive me. The unattractive digs I have here, but we’re really happy that you are here to join us for this conversation about creative aging and the future of museums.
And I know that it is a time when we have a lot on our minds and a lot of logistics to balance.
And so, we really appreciate your taking the time to be part of this session to learn about the work of the museum’s that are on our panel today and also some of the research that supports this work.
So, the focus of our conversation today will be really just to kind of sampler. We hope that this will pique your interest and we have three museums, who will talk about their work and especially how their work with older adults has shifted in light of the pandemic.
Which I know is top of mind for a lot of people and then Mary Ellen Munley will finish by talking about some of the research that supports this work each of the panelists have presenter. So, I prepared a 10-minute presentation which will hopefully leave us some time for Q&A at the end, so we’ll ask for everybody to sort of hold their questions for the end or you can type them in the Q AMP a section of our meeting instead of the chat. The Q&A and we can get going from there, based on what you will type in that little Q&A box.
So, I’m going to go ahead and share my screen. One second.
Okay, so I hope everyone can see this. Okay. You see our presenters here listed below. But we will also all share our contact information at the end of the session so that we can continue the conversation after this
Brief hour that we have together and just to ground us before we get going in what creative aging is I think there are a lot of definitions that we can use. And there’s no kind of one
Right or single definition, but I like this one from lifetime arts using the arts to improve the quality of life for older adults who creative expression and social engagement and you’ll see that those two ideas of creative expression and social engagement are really fundamental to the programs that will be described today. Um, I also like to think of this is how the arts can be part of a fulfilling and healthy aging process and we all seek fulfillment, you know, throughout our lives. But what that means in later life is perhaps more specific and intentional.
This is a movement. It’s a national movement, a global movement and it grows out of a number of things, one of which would be the demographic shift underway in our country and in the world more broadly. So, you can see that by in four Americans will be over the age of and Atlanta where I work, is actually aging we’re rapidly, let’s say, then other parts of the country. So, we’re looking at that kind of shift by 2030 where one in four Atlanteans or a metro Atlanta and let’s call them will be 60 year over which is a really significant portion of the population.
I think also that there is sort of an assumption that many people hold about who actually visit museums.
Based, you know, potentially solely on the fact that museums are open, you know, during the week during times when most of the working public or in their offices are in their home offices as it is right now for many of us.
But in fact, that’s not really the case that older adults make up the bulk of our audiences, at least with the high when research was done in 2019 to get a better sense of who our audience is, you can see that 80% nearly 80% of the highs audience or age 54 and younger.
And when you go up to 65, we just have 11% of our audience is 65 and older. So, this is a demographic that
Is sort of absent, let’s say, from our visitor ship.
And prior to joining the high in January of this year, I worked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for 12 or so years and in the work that we did there.
And the research, we found that only 6% of our ticket purchasers were 65 and older so also a really small portion that of course doesn’t include members, but still a very, very small number of our audience were 65 and older.
Um but demographics are, of course, not the only reason that all of us are sort of pursuing this work. I think we are as museum professionals really recognizing that that ageism is deeply rooted in our society, among other forms of discrimination, and I think the pandemic has really brought that into acute focus. If you think about how certain lives are being valued over others who are kind of being asked are expected to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the quote-unquote economy.
That’s something that has really been sad for me personally, as I looked at this and watch this develop in our, in our country. The last few months.
And of course, we as museums are not neutral organizations. And so I think many of us are looking at the ways that we reinforce the status quo around ages and the other forms of discrimination and then also ways that we can affect change so I hope that you know with these presentations, you’ll get a sense of the motivations behind our different speakers and their work and some of the kind of grounding resources and then also very practical logistical information about the way that these programs have developed and with that I will turn it over to Eli Burke of Mocha Tucson.
Eli Burke: Awesome. Thanks.
Hi everyone, I’m super excited to be here and happy that you’re all here with us to learn about this.
I am coming from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson education director there. And I’m a third year PhD student in art and visual culture at the University of Arizona.
And I just want to acknowledge that Mocha Tucson resides on the traditional end of the 200 people So getting used to this technology.
Sorry about this.
Okay. That is where I meant to be.
So, we can just jump right in.
The slides are just a little bit slower and when I move them. So, in 2019 the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson became part of a cohort of 20 museums, supported by our how philanthropies chosen to design and implement programs for 55 plus community.
We also received valuable training from lifetime arts before developing our programs and they have continued to provide support along the way.
We designed and implemented for different programs to at the armory Park senior center which is just a local senior center near the museum.
One is was School of drag, which was an intergenerational gender performance program. And then we had state gold, which is the program that I’m going to focus on today.
So, I want to focus on state gold. I think I’ve learned the most from this program and all the different versions, we sort of ran on this program to learn everything we could.
About what was, what would be successful and what wouldn’t. This program is an LGBTQ+ intergenerational arts program aimed at
Combating isolation and creating connections across generations. It began in 2017 but in 2019 we shifted formats. We use contemporary art as the lens that creates openings for relevance in the lives and experiences of participants.
Stay gold came out of previous work. I had done in both youth and elder LGBTQ+ communities.
This one mapping Q is a youth program developed by Chelsea for our that invited you queer youth, University of Arizona Museum of Art to interrogate this institutional space and map the ways that clearness is or is not included in these institutional spaces, I’d worked on a video project with mapping Q and collaboration between the University of Arizona Museum of Art Tucson Museum of Art and mocha.
The other program that inspired state gold was called the toner project. And this was created by two PhD students at the University of Arizona Becky black and David Romero
And this program invited 55 plus LGBTQ+ community members into the University of Arizona Museum of Art for series of three workshops
On these included lectures museum tourism art making, and the series focused on an early 16th century hope chest in the UAE ma collection.
And so, I’m considering the meaning behind a hope chest and its connection to marriage. This program invited LGBT Q is a plus seniors into the museum to create their own mini hope chests and sort of reflect on that meaning.
It was a very profound and moving experience for me working with this group of people and it opened my eyes to how neglected the community is and how much they sort of long for this type of connection and these types of programs.
So, the LGBTQ+ community is often compartmentalized, and I mean that generationally the general generations don’t generally have opportunities to connect
This, coupled with the fact that a 2010 study by AARP research found that people identifying as LGBT Q have a greater risk of being chronically lonely and those who identify as LGBT Q R and who are in midlife and older are more likely to be lonely.
And likewise, you are spending more time in unmediated online spaces exposing them to bullying that often goes unchecked. And so, for me, this made the decision to create an intergenerational program, a very easy decision.
So while LGBTQ+ people are more accepted. Now there’s still tremendous amount of stigma around our identities. This, along with the fact that the work of our older LGBTQ+ community.
Is what has allowed many of us to live openly now makes it even more critical that we acknowledge celebrate and care for the community.
Many LGBTQ+ people have lost families, religious and cultural community connections and friends, due to their status as LGBTQ+ often create people often create chosen families. However, this is often limited to those within their generation and there. And that’s basically just because there’s a lack of opportunities for those generations to connect her art spaces created for that to happen for a myriad of reasons.
Also want to address the name of this program definitely comes from the Robert Frost home nothing called can stay and the book. And film inspired by the book The Outsiders by se Hinton and refers to the ways our perspectives can change over time and that we can retain a sense of curiosity and wonder about the world, no matter what stage of life. We’re in the structure of stay gold and we met every Tuesday. We’re still meeting actually from 530 9% from 530 to 730 for 10 weeks and we try to remove as many barriers as we possibly can.
So, we provide passes for public transportation and snacks and anything else and can provide to make it easier for participants to join us.
It’s open to ages 13 and up with an emphasis on the intergenerational aspect. So, we it’s I push it heavily towards the older population.
Because that’s really, I think the main group, but it’s open to people. We have a lot of people that come in between those, those two finer age groups and the group size averages to around 15 participants.
Initially, curriculum was designed to provide a new activity each week all centered around the central theme connected to our exhibitions. I wanted to keep these prompts open to allow participants to interpret their ideas and methods and mediums that aligned with their responses.
But with support from our heart and training from lifetime arts we shifted this to sequential skill building format, and this ended up serving the needs of the group in new ways.
Participants were excited to learn new skills, there were more thoughtful in their approaches to projects, there were more invested in the outcomes at a sense of pride over both the work they were doing the stories they told about the work
There were more motivated to complete projects and excited to share at the culminating event. And overall, we had a higher program retention.
And I just wanted to compare the two new activities versus sequential skill building and the sort of ways that we connected, those two are exhibitions.
So, an example of curriculum before we did sequential skill building is tied to the exhibition bless it be spirituality mysticism and the occult and contemporary art.
And we wanted to focus on what spirituality and religion mean to the LGBT community and how that translates across generations curriculum included pocket shrines a soul painting workshops digital making vessel making gallery activities collaborative drawing and movement workshop for the sequential skill building centered around a mere follows exhibition scatter mashes on foreign land.
And this as participants to consider how identities are visually represented and challenge them to create self-portraits to express identity through the use of mixed media.
And curriculum included and can see this sort of sequential format, creating value scales paint color mixing posterization transferring an image preparing ground for painting techniques enlarging images with a great and mixed media applications.
And unfortunately, due to COVID to become a nightmare were forced to haul all in person public programs.
With two sessions left stable participants were unable to complete their projects we quit. We quickly shifted focus and created an online 10-week program around career contemporary artists.
I provide prompt each week for participants to follow along with links to video content about highlighted artists of the week. And there were some pretty unexpected outcomes of this shift as well.
Accessibility was the probably the main one more people were able to participate, including some Members who initially joined our in-person, per group, but due to timing or transportation issues could not consistently attend
Participation is not limited to a geographic location we have new participants. Join us from Seattle and La it created a more intimate experience. I, I believe the barrier of the screen and the face-to-face format allowed for a different type of connection that was more intimate
While we’re face to face during in person sessions, the screen is often quite literally only faces of participants facing you.
So rather than sitting around a table and talking in small groups sort of really got us to talk to each other in one discussion.
The conversations feel more intentional and focused, for example, last week we discussed how are different generations to find the term queer and everyone learned something new that connected us even more.
And for our next online program. We have invited la based artist Asher Hartman to facilitate a 10-week series of workshops a 10-week series of workshops on creative nonfiction writing a collaborative Z making well, a current online program that we’re doing right now does not implement sequential skill building lessons. The next program will, and I’m really interested in how the online format with those two ways of implementing programs, what the outcomes will be ongoing goals are to continue serving our LGBTQ+ community with a focus on creating intervention intergenerational connections.
Through our experience with COVID 19 we learned that there there’s a unique value in online learning and hope to continue this format, either in addition to in person sessions or as a hybrid as a hybrid program that is all I have to share. I appreciate you all listening. Thank you.
Hopefully if you have any questions at the end. I know that.
Laurel Humble: Thank you, Eli. And I’m going to stop sharing just for a second. We Lisa, who is one of our presenters is here by phone, I believe, so we’re going to try and work out how she can present, but maybe in the meantime we’ll go ahead to Danielle and then we can get back to Lisa just for the sake of fluidity. So, I am going to share my screen again thank you all for your patience. And then Danielle, feel free to take control.
Danielle Schulz: Great. Thank you so much. My name. Let’s see. I need to take Grace, I’m Thank you. Yes, my name is Danielle Schultz, I’m the Senior Manager of lifelong learning and accessibility at the Denver Art Museum and we have been working on creative aging through engaging active older adults through programming since about 2013.
At the same time that we were doing this. There was a lot of initiatives that were happening actually around the city in Denver or city of Denver and the state of Colorado as well in 2014 Denver became an age friendly community.
Through the WHO and AARP, and the state of Colorado joined in 2018 and what this means is that age friendly communities are focused on supporting people to age in place. What that means is the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely independently and comfortably regardless of age, income, or ability level.
Our role that we see in making Denver and age friendly community is providing programs that promote wellbeing. So that’s a lot of what I’m going to talk about today is how we use wellbeing, as the lens to design our programming.
We’re broadly defining wellbeing as feeling good and functioning well there’s more research that we can share and Mary Ellen, who I’ve worked with as well, who’s also on this call will be able to share a little bit too.
But we’re really along with other museums, mostly in the United Kingdom, recognizing that health is a societal issue.
And so, we acknowledged that we have a responsibility to really shift from merely displaying objects in our museum to really offering spaces and programming that promote the health and wellness of our communities.
And the way in which we do that in our creative aging programs which are for people 855 and over is designing our programs around five wellbeing outcomes. And these are on the screen. They are intellectual engagement, which is seeing self as growing expanding feeling stimulated personal growth in a sense of purpose, which is feeling valued and useful.
Connectedness, which is feeling close with others and less isolated savoring focus on what is happening in the present, and then a general wellness, which is a positive mood and just generally feeling good. So, we design through this lens our creative aging programs. And this has really enabled us to provide a pretty comprehensive and well-rounded collection of programs.
At all have this shared goal of using the arts to support healthy aging and enhance the wellbeing of adults of all ages.
I’m going to talk a little bit about some of these programs. I’m not going to go super in depth to a lot of them because they’re similar to other programs that people have
At museums. But I think what’s important is talking about how we’re using this wellbeing lens, so we began our programs on site. And again, this happened almost a decade ago.
But, for example, the, the program on the left is dropping drawing programs. So, it’s a two hour facilitated drawing session in the galleries.
That’s inspired by the collection and led by teaching artists. This program is designed to support intellectual engagement. So, we provide dedicated time for attendees to learn and relearn artistic skills which
Which expands our creative toolbox, as well as exposing them to a variety of artists media’s and collections in our museum.
The program on the right, that’s highlighted is mindful looking, which is a program where we spend 45 minutes with a single work of art.
Through guided close looking and dialogue we also focus attention on multi-sensory engagement. So, we bring in music contextual images poetry mindfulness and breathing techniques.
And all of that is really designed to support the savoring wellbeing outcomes. So, thinking about how we’re enabling people to slow down and focus on the present moment.
Both of these programs also are designed to some more to support connection. And I think Eli and his program also kind of mentioned that, too, as people come, week after week. They’re really building this community.
Building this report, even though these programs are designed for adults ages 55 and over, they’re open to anyone who’s at the museum. When these programs are taking place. So, we have been able to see some wonderful intergenerational connections.
And as I said, because their monthly people are really seeing each other a lot. So having that continual interaction is really nice.
With these programs we reflected that you know we’re reaching a certain segment of the older adult population really well, but these are people who are active, who are already comfortable coming to the museum. And that’s leaving out a ton of people in the Denver community.
So, we really looked at how we could you know really expand our reach, and really asking ourselves the question of who is missing and everything.
Through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, we were able to move outside of our walls and expand into our local community. We are partnering with residential older adult communities as well as day center communities to really reach older adults who are below the poverty line at risk of isolation and who have little to no cultural opportunities easily available to them.
So, we started designing these programs, first by asking our partners, what they’re looking for. What do they need, what are their goals? And we got a resounding call for using the arts to support community building at these locations.
So even though some of these locations. People actually live on site; we’re finding that people are actually not necessarily interacting with each other. So, we wanted to come in and use the arts to be that connector.
I’m going to highlight one in community program, which we’re calling our art club and it’s made up of three types of experiences, the first being an object experience.
So, this is where we have close looking and conversation that’s centered around education collection objects which can be handled and taken out of our museum as well as personal objects that belong to the participants.
So, art club members are invited to bring in something from home that they would like to show with the other participants. This could be a work of art that they’ve created or something that they just own, and they want to share with others.
Through these objects we talked about memory significance of the objects and the important stories that are related to these and this is designed to support personal growth and a sense of purpose because we find that celebrating these objects of importance to each other is really important and people are listening to the stories about these. And again, getting to know something new about someone that they might live next door to but don’t necessarily know that much about the next experience is called our artists activation and these are art making sessions that are facilitated by Professional Teaching artists from the Denver community.
The projects are scaled to be accessible get interesting to participants and we use high quality materials. So, we’re not using things that are, you know, not that we’re using the same quality materials that professional artists are using anything like that quality is very important.
So, we design this artist activation to support the general wellness of our participants, because we see that there is a joy of exploring new creative ideas and outlets and what we’ve heard from some of our participants is that they haven’t done an art making project since they were in elementary school. So, this is, again, providing something that they might not have had access to FOR A LONG TIME WE’RE ALSO DESIGNING to support intellectual engagement because these hands on experiences are really absorbing and are sparking inspiration.
The final components of this art club is a showcase and art Showcase. So, as a group, the club develops an exhibition to showcase the objects that they own.
Or objects that they share or that they created during their artists activations, so this showcase is installed in the community space and it has an accompanying reception and celebration.
This is really designed to support connectedness and we’re finding that by contributing to the exhibition older adults are able to have increased feelings of belonging and being part of something. They’re also having a platform to share their voice, which is often overlooked as people are as people age and there’s also a closeness to others over a shared experience, which is really, resulting in building community for this group.
So as with many others, both on this call COVID 19 really brought to a halt. A lot of our programs, both on site and in the community.
But what we found is that our outcomes have not changed. We are still really seeing wellness and wellbeing, as an essential component of this program. So, our outcomes are actually more important than ever. It’s just our activities that are slightly changing so what we did first was, we reached out to our community partners through emails, phone calls old fashioned paper surveys to just say, what do you need. During this time, and what can we really do to help us.
So, what we’ve heard is really, there’s a need for connection, especially now and older adults or isolated, more than ever, and likely will continue to be
More isolated due to social distancing and quarantining even after most audiences are able to come back to the museum for health and safety issues. So, because of that,
We found that there’s an importance in providing opportunities to collect with live elements. And again, echoing what do i was saying.
There’s this interest in actually being able to connect with one another, even if it’s through a computer screen. So we’ve been really looking at taking all of our onsite programs are dropping, dropping or mindful looking that I mentioned earlier into the zoom format and we found that having these live components is for at least our audience have more interest than having more kind of recorded videos that they can watch because that is again supporting their intellectual engagement is having this dialogue, having this back and forth versus just watching a video that’s a little bit more passive
So, but one thing to consider as you go into this virtual format is there’s a lot of extra time that is needed to go into figuring out this new platform, both for the people who are taking the program online, you know, adapting it as well as the participants familiarizing themselves with it. There’s a lot of resources out there that can help participants become familiar. But just knowing that that is that is a possibility. I’m
Also, as I already said this. This is an accessibility thing that a lot of people can come in from out from, you know, from around the city, the state even across the country.
And but there is a digital divide. So, there is this realization that not everyone has access to computers or internet. And so, what can we do to not just have everything online?
Because of that, we’ve also been exploring more of these analog elements, and this is due to the digital divide, as well as screen fatigue, which I’m sure a lot of us are very familiar with.
So, people are looking for more tangible engagement opportunities. So how we’re doing. This is really coupling online programs with analog components, and this could look like taking our art club online with zoom meetings to take place of our in-person conversations. But then we’re providing quality material and engagement activities. They’re actually sent through the mail or dropped off at these locations.
So that that have these high-quality art materials that have these artists lead prompts that we would have done in person.
Another thing is thinking about the phone as a way to connect a lot of our older adults, just do not have internet do not have even smartphones.
But they have a telephone. So how can we use conference calls and ways to connect, and a lot of social organizations social service organizations are using that they’re doing daily kind of checking phone calls. So how can we connect with them.
So, I’m really, I just want to end by saying that our way of designing with this wellbeing lens has really I think opened our eyes up to saying how can we really make sure that our programs are supporting older adults.
In living healthier lives and again through these five kinds of key outcomes. It’s really helps to shape what we’re doing online in community and now online. And I think, similar to what other participants are saying is that we see the online component staying as part one of our assets, long after the COVID 19 scare ends and really seeing it as just another tool that we can use in our toolbox.
So quickly the rough, the kind of resources that have been really helpful.
Definitely reaching out with colleagues and your community here in Denver, we have something that we call our creative aging forum.
And that’s people from the library from the rec center from museums from service organizations that just come together quarterly to talk and share resources. So, we’re not all just doing this work in a vacuum. There’s also potential to partner with people in your city that are doing something for example, we’re going to partner with the library to take one of our programs for people with memory loss online as part of their memory cafe, because we don’t need to do our own if they already have one that’s working really well. The next resource that I highly recommend everybody go check out is changing the narrative.
This is Colorado-based organization, but it’s really important to what Laura was saying at the beginning is they give a lot of resources and trainings to combat ages and ages attitudes? So, thinking about inclusive language and leveraging the strengths and talents of older adults and looking at the productivity of the of older adults, rather than just this marginalized.
Population. So, I highly recommend it wonderful resources about thinking about language and how important that is to change.
Thank you so much. I think I just went over like a couple months ago, but I appreciate the chance to be here and talk with you all. So, thank you.
Laurel Humble: Great. Thank you, Danielle. So, we’re still trying to hopefully work out the issue. So, Lisa can present. So, in the meantime, I’m going to go to Mary Ellen.
If you are ready, Mary Ellen and then I will move the slides for you.
Mary Ellen Munley: Hello everyone I’m Mary Ellen Munley I actually am part of the demographic that we’re talking about. I’ve been a museum professional for about 40 years now and I’m at a point where I’m sort of combining some of my experiences as an educator administrator social science researcher into sort of a synthesis about thinking more and more about the public value of museums. And I think that’s a lot of what we’re hearing from the presentations that we’ve heard that we’ve been listening to so far is outcomes. And I’m purpose that goes beyond the specific content area mission of the museum.
So, I am focused on that part of the program description that says purpose and intent. And where might you look for identifying the purpose and intent of the programs that you’re looking to design for older adults, and you know when creating new programs active practitioners are inclined to start with the program design itself. We’re going to do a tour. We’re going to do a lecture series; we’re going to do art making and while there’s nothing wrong with that.
It loses the potential for some opportunity. And it also allows for the possibility that you will not make the fundamental changes to your thinking of how you design a program
We’ll just sort of fall back on what those elements are that you always do when you do a tour or art making and thing and just adapt for the audience in terms of maybe larger print or hearing cape enhancement.
And yet every so often. You know, the stars align and you have the opportunity to be truly innovative in thinking about something and that usually suggests that a definition if you’re doing something innovative you’re questioning the assumptions on which, from which you operate assumptions about programming and assumptions about audiences and so you might think of some folks think of program design and evaluation as sort of an iceberg, like on the top, what you see are things like the presentations. We’ve just heard.
Of really beautifully designed well executed programs that can show outcomes and impact and effect what’s usually not seen is all the stuff that’s underneath that these folks have done.
That’s gotten them to that to that point, the assumptions that they that they question the partnerships that they that they have the beginning research that they do. And that brings me to this notion that ways that we can look sort of in new ways about museums might well be guided by research. So next, the next slide.
So, what else could there be that we could take a dive into in trying to do the best that we that we possibly can.
And there are really at least these four, and I’m sure there are others, but these are the four that I’ve had the opportunity to look in look at most, most clearly is how do you look into the literature and research about human development about physical and mental health about general wellbeing and happiness and about creativity. These are all things that are associated with aging, and they bring us some unique perspectives.
For instance, if you go to the next slide.
If you take a look at older adults from the perspective of human development, you start to look at and understand more about the stereotypes about aging and begin to know and seeing ways to challenge them.
There’s a limited view of aging, which we’re all aware of right that that aging is a process of decline that is that old age.
That people within that demographic or mostly dealing with illnesses and loss of capacities and loneliness. And yet, if you look at the literature about human development and the later years in life, you find that there is a great deal to be seen in terms of productive aging or what some people are calling successful aging that words like vitality and personal growth that we tend to associate with other age times for us are just as active in later years, as they are in early reviews.
So, for instance, the new brain research that’s happening. And it’s not just about cognitive functioning research informs our knowledge of the cognitive effective and emotional capabilities among older adults, and it paints a very different picture from the one of dramatic continual decline. So, for example, a body of research that has been done by a person named in yada it in he reviewed the current research and subtitles her the richer summary report about why getting older, just might be awesome.
Older people have a greater capacity for empathy because empathy is learned through experience and aging brain can better tease out patterns and see, but we get the big picture.
And older adults are found to be better able to anticipate problems and reason things out. She goes on to say that it points out that what is even more interesting is that many of the advanced abilities in old age correlate with key concepts and conceptual elements of innovation and creativity.
So in an interview with this researcher by the director of the UCLA Center on Aging. They agreed that the older brain is primed for creativity.
The older brain is quite resilient and can be stimulated to innovate create and contribute in extraordinary ways and then he goes on to say that it is important for individuals and organizations to provide incentives to encourage older people to continue to be creative, because what they have to offer is so tremendous certainly a call to museums.
But the research that’s been done about older adults and the arts and creativity has been done from both of these, these perspectives. Right. The one about mental health and physical health, and then a broader sense of what’s happening as we are, as we are developing the perspective of decline within aging puts a focus on physical health as wellbeing and wellbeing in this regard is very well documented in the research.
You can find hundreds of studies that will be able, that didn’t it did that demonstrate that there is improved health overall. And it’s usually around dimensions like these fewer doctor visits or fewer falls.
Less depression fewer less use of medication, those kinds of health-related outcomes. These studies are often experimental in design. So, there are control groups and that sort of reinforces I guess the credibility of the findings.
And it is the prominent model that you’ll find in research, there was a an in-program design often there was a great session yesterday about wellbeing and you know it was related to how museums can work with children or in hospitals in and work with their families, people who are in a mental program for Alzheimer’s right in mental game advancing mental capacity. Those are things that were are quite frequent and as I say very well documented.
But there’s room for more than the physical and mental health focus on aging and on the work that we can do and how we can describe the work that we do to others. So, if we look at the next slide.
The newer sort of evolving approach to old age fits into the area of positive psychology, the thought and the research that is happening there.
And so you can really see the difference between an overarching sense of decline and this more, more positive holistic view of aging that allows us to look at things like what we heard from both Eli and Danielle and to be thinking about when designing for older adults, so you look at things like sense of purpose or personal growth personal growth in terms of either knowledge or skills or even emotional development we hear from some adults, for instance, that they’re developing a new identity at this age, they don’t have some of the same responsibilities that they had, they now have opportunities.
Or, for instance, someone who was who’s sort of true identity was blocked as a child or in there in the younger and their younger years. This is the normal moment for them to be able to own that and redefine themselves.
So, there’s a lot of work going on. Often the terms and you heard them again today.
The research is more about the social connection, rather than about the loneliness because social connection is a positive thing. It’s not just a remedy for loneliness and the connection is not only in terms of the people who are in the program with you.
But not to forget that one of the things that is really important is feeling like you’re connected to the world that you have some agency and that you’re still part of what the community has to offer. So, there’s that kind of sense of the connection as well.
So, wellbeing. Research gives us some ideas for a host of outcomes that are more than instrumental outcomes or health outcomes. So let me give you a little
Researcher acknowledged that, of course, each individual’s life story and relationship to art creativity. I think he could substitute history; science is unique.
However, taken as a whole, his data. Data leads to two important generalizations about this kind of participation by older adults. First, the mere fact of an older person seriously practicing art reinforces the newer creativity and development of new talents.
As he puts it, the act of creating can be in itself a form of resistance to the idea that with age comes passivity and resignation. And second, the practice of art increases feelings of agency, because it is an act of bringing something into existence that had not existed before.
Even if others do not hear or agree with an artistic statement or a point of view, the person has taken action and put her vision into tangible form and it is agency of this type, through which we all fulfill ourselves as human beings.
So how might you with clues from the research wrap your minds around these broader outcomes for designing and evaluating the programs.
Some of the design for help for working with older adults has actually built into the museum itself. And I think we sometimes
Might think the obvious to think this is so obvious that we forget about it. And so again, research about wellbeing an older age.
Some of the work by the World Happiness Report, for instance, looked at societal national wellbeing and found that in the whole of society.
There is a relationship between honesty benevolence cooperation trustworthiness and feelings of wellbeing organizations that imbue the with that embed an interview with these characteristics constitute a positive wellbeing environment that supports positive wellbeing and environments that support personal wellbeing, have the following characteristics and listen to these in as you think about what your institution does they are supportive not evaluative low pressure and facilitate making connections certainly that describes many of what many of our institutions.
So, a researcher from the center of wellbeing and New Economics Foundation in the UK. And as I think someone else mentioned the best work in this area and the most work in this area is being done in the UK.
What they did is they looked across all of the research literature in order to develop a shortlist that can be handy to those of us who are practitioners of the evidence-based actions that contribute to wellbeing. And that’s what’s listed here on this slide.
One of the things that’s brilliant about this work, I think, is that these are things that anybody can do you can do them in a variety of environments. You can do them in innumerable kinds of ways.
But there are also longer lists that you can reference, and I would refer you to Chatterjee, who is a geneticist, by the way, working in England who to get a sir, a review of all of the literature that talked about the relationship between creativity art and aging and he pulled out all the concepts that were mentioned as possible outcomes.
Now, there aren’t measures for all of those, particularly under certainly not research about evidence of these things happening in museums, but it is an extremely useful.
List for you to be looking at in order to do for what Danielle talked about for instance of just define those aspects of wellbeing, that are most clearly aligned with your audience and your institution.
Now, the other thing I just would like to say is that by taking this broader view.
It in no way diminishes the welcoming and physical aspects of the museum that are necessary to attend to its things like the types in amount of seed in the conversation spaces and opportunities for connection lighting and text, audio, those are obviously also critical.
They’re not the end of the story. And I think that’s part of what we can learn from the research. You know how far museums are going to go in terms of changing their program designs or changing their physical space is obviously yet to be known, we know what is appropriate, what will work. But we don’t always necessarily do it and we won’t know for some time, even how to do it.
Excuse me, I look back, because I’ve had a longer career. I look back at you know sort of how museums changed over the last, let’s say 30 years in terms of being able to accommodate family audiences.
You know they are physically and conceptually different than they were when I was a little girl in 1950s, for instance, and I suspect that what we’re going to be in the process of doing is seeing what are those changes those fundamental changes that the roof. Definitely search about aging and older adults and the importance of places like museums in their lives. What, what is it going to look like?
So, here’s, as I said, a very short list you can get overwhelmed with with the hundreds of studies that are out there.
But here I do give you the reference for the ship chatter Jeep piece because it has really hundreds of descriptions
That are fodder for the outcomes that you might be thinking about. And then the reference to the New Economics foundations piece about, you know, the ways that people can experience and bring wellbeing into their lives. And finally, and I think Danielle is going to put up the links for these. There are two literature reviews that the Denver Art Museum has commissioned and doing their work and one of them is about you know art museums and activists older adults. The other is about art museums and wellbeing there much longer than this presentation. There’s more specifics, there, and there are rather lengthy bibliography is as well.
Laurel Humble: Great. Thank you so much. Mary Ellen. Um, and so, Lisa is on the phone. So, we’ll try and
Hey Lisa, great, great to hear you. Can you hear me.
Lisa Ortega: Yes. Okay, good, good, and
Laurel Humble: I’m going to just I’ll pull up your slides work we’re under 10 minutes. We have about five minutes left. Unfortunately, I’m so sorry that we have
Lisa Ortega: Okay, yes, I will. I’ll try to be as brief and
Well, good morning, and my presentation has the words on expected joy. It was a phrase that seems to make sense of the process that we went through presenting are launching a first for the first time that program creative aging was a lot of unexpected joy.
I’m going to go ahead and explain to you what maybe that isn’t that means is life is an art form, and I am going to go to the slide where there’s the logo, where you see a dandelion Tyler or the head of the of the flower, you will see that it has two syllables in orange.
That is a player of words in Spanish. That day means give yourself. So, with live is an art form what we want to communicate is piece of yourself art piece of yourself why we were when we were creating this logo. We came up with the dandelion flower is amazing symbolism is to spread happiness, joy, optimism. I love the words that Mary Ellen was sharing because that is the spirit.
Yeah, the age group that we are addressing this program. As soon as the word got out. That increased by phone and email messaging people coming by person to enroll was overwhelming. And unfortunately, we couldn’t enroll everybody so we offered other alternatives could be joining the program.
But we have, we’re not in a plan. We gave the participants a tote bag with goodies. And the next slide that you will see will show you a glimpse of what the workshop look like using the guidelines of lifetime art we selected teaching artists who have experienced escalating community workshops and approving mastery of art that they talk a social engagement and show and tell their session.
And the ability and disposition of teaching artists quickly adjust the curriculum to the other group was very important to us. And we know that he was going to be a huge part of the program.
And other aspects of joy about interacting with our dandelions. That’s what we expect our students is to see how well they took to heart the creative agency spirit; we’re talking for themselves as you know accumulated use the tool that phrase that age 55 or better. And also, like a second ago regarding the use of technology.
And then way of communication was describing the other presenters on email and again we know that we will be using Gmail or Google Hangouts to hold a virtual session. So, it’s good that I’m all of them all our participants had Smartphones so they can learn how to use them and communicate and I’m gonna jump to the slide where it says physical distancing and interpreted alienated them.
During the walk down it was the flexing and while we were each confronting a new situation and figuring things out for ourselves, our family Burke, a member of our staff fans a few days, calling students to check on them and the message that despite the crisis or maybe because they wanted to continue and finish the workshop so that the pieces into real to recommend will change any feeling nation will be you’re handling new technological the own email.
The next live show some screenshots of the virtual there was a tear or two when we saw each other again after weeks of hearing from each other not seeing each other many participants get working on the shelf will try and the results were amazing but one of the students even had a birthday. So, we thank her.
To take away very quickly takeaway tips and challenges to consider when planning for future workshop. You stay here, there’s a willingness story know where there’s a will, there’s a way that will be motivation and connectedness.
Always pass each individual on the phone before the connection and also consider the life of a rocket space for training is all have to be long. Does this also access to art materials are they going to get their own materials, supplies are bigger than likely, they have a clone.
And finally, it’s already time is up. There’s a slide with a splayed poster that I found our elderly need affection understanding calling company and the firm in exchange, they offer you some strength experience sensitivity and, above all, love and for listening and I think my team for making this run very smoothly. Thank you all. Thank you, everybody.
Laurel Humble: Thank you, everyone, sorry to cut you off. But I know we’re going to get cut off and I just want to share our contact information quickly with everybody.
Hopefully you can see our email addresses. There’s been lots of questions in the Q&A that we’ve tried to answer.
But I think that this is, again, just the start of the conversation. So please be in touch with all of us individually or as a group. We’re happy to keep speaking with you and thank you again for joining us this morning.
Take care everybody, bye bye.
Lisa Ortega: Thank you. Bye, everyone. Thank you