Skip to content

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:

Museums and Aging: 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.
Logo for Aroha Philanthropies

AAM Member-Only Content

AAM Members get exclusive access to premium digital content including:

  • Featured articles from Museum magazine
  • Access to more than 1,500 resource listings from the Resource Center
  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
Log In

We're Sorry

Your current membership level does not allow you to access this content.

Upgrade Your Membership

Register now for Perspectives on Legacy Creative Aging Virtual Conference

The Alliance’s work on museums and creative aging, supported by Aroha Philanthropies, focuses on “healthy aging”—how museums can foster curiosity, growth, and social connections among …

From In-Person to Virtual Programs: A Case Study of Challenges & Successes

No sooner had I learned that Zoom meant more than the loud whoosh of a sports car than I was engulfed in planning how to move a creative aging playwriting course to the platform. COVID had …

Digital Gold: Queering Flat Spaces

As museums address issues of access to collections, galleries, and education during COVID-19, many have chosen to shift to a digital space to connect with the public and continue their …

Social Distancing Doesn’t Need to Equal Social Isolation for Older Adults

As COVID-19 continues to present intense challenges, the world is laser-focused on what social distancing means in particular for older adults and those who serve them. The pandemic not …

Supporting Teaching Artists with Creative Aging Trainings

In 2019, one hundred Minnesota teaching artists participated in two teaching artist trainings in creative aging, co-presented by Aroha Philanthropies and the Minnesota State Arts Board, in …

A Local Chairmaking Tradition Inspires Older Adults at John Michael Kohler Arts Center

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, …

Upcoming Events

View All Events

Subscribe to Field Notes!

Packed with stories and insights for museum people, Field Notes is delivered to your inbox every Monday. Once you've completed the form below, confirm your subscription in the email sent to you.

If you are a current AAM member, please sign-up using the email address associated with your account.

Are you a museum professional?

Are you a current AAM member?

Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription, and please add communications@aam-us.org to your safe sender list.