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Museums and Creative Aging

Museums and Creative Aging

“Discrimination on the basis of age is as unacceptable as discrimination on the basis of any other aspect of ourselves that we cannot change.”

― Ashton Applewhite, This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism

By 2035, there will be 78.0 million people 65 years and older in the US (compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18). This demographic shift makes it more important than ever that we change the cultural norm of marginalizing older members of society. We need to combat the loneliness and isolation that often cripple aging individuals, and find ways to harness the knowledge, experience, and creativity of this growing population.

While the aging of America presents museums with challenges of retention and access, museums are positioned to play a major role in building social connections, nurturing creative expression; providing opportunities for meaningful work; and enhancing health, wellbeing, and lifelong learning.

The Alliance’s creative aging initiative helps museums:

  • Combat ageism through all areas of organizational operations, including programming, marketing, accessibility, and hiring
  • Study the latest research on the transformative power of creativity and arts programming
  • Form lasting connections with organizations working in the creative aging sector
  • Start new initiatives, programs, services, and partnerships in support of creative aging

To receive updates on this initiative, share your contact information with us via this form:

You can engage with this work via the following projects:

Ad Summa: A vibrant blog on museums, arts and aging

This series of posts on the Alliance blog aims for the highest and best exploration of arts and aging, with a focus on museum practice. Ad Summa features essays by luminaries in the field of creative aging, shares examples of museums working with communities “fifty-five and better,” and summarize current research in the field.

Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums

The Alliance is collaborating with Aroha Philanthropies and Lifetime Arts to usher a museum cohort through their creative aging program, Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums. This program has been designed and tested over the years with a variety of cultural organizations; now twenty museums are participating and you can follow their stories on the Ad Summa blog.

A National Convening 

Our plans for a national convening to explore museums and creative aging are currently on hold, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The topic is more important than ever, as older populations cope with the additional isolation imposed by physical distancing. We will be assessing the best ways to provide the information museums need in a timely and appropriate manner. Stay tuned to this page for updates.

This initiative is made possible with the generous support of Aroha Philanthropies.
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Creative Aging Strategies from Abroad

A couple of years ago, New Zealand’s Office for Seniors initiated the development of a “Healthy Ageing Strategy.” Toward that end, they invited leading national organizations …

A Historic Textile Mill Inspires Creative Agers at Museum L-A

In 2018, twenty organizations enrolled in a special museum cohort of Aroha Philanthropies’ Seeding Vitality Arts program. With funding from Aroha, and training provided by Lifetime Arts, …

The Old Man’s Guide to Health and Longer Life, 1750!

In the nearly endless stacks of the British Library there rests a little book entitled The Old Man’s Guide to Health and Longer Life. It was written in 1750 by a gentleman named John Hill, …

Somewhere Near the End

Creative aging is a global movement, and the demographic phenomena behind it are happening in many countries beyond the United States. Today’s guest post on the Ad Summa blog comes from a …

Funding for Creative Aging Programs

Without exception, the idea of initiating creative aging projects and programs at our museums is a very attractive one, but finding support to launch such efforts is another matter …

Philanthropy and Creative Aging

Philanthropy is often thought of as the giving of money to some cause, in our case to our museums. But in essence philanthropy is a human resource, and as such it should be viewed from …

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