Museums and Creative Aging

Museums and Creative Aging

“We are privileged to live at this time of a revolution in longevity. It will be a tragedy for humanity if we mess it up.”

― Dr. Alexandre Kalache 

New Report—Museums and Creative Aging: A Healthful Partnership


This landmark report commissioned by the American Alliance of Museums and written by Marjorie Schwarzer is a call to action for museums to change the narrative about what it means to grow old in America. Opening with an overview of aging and ageism in our country, the report documents actions being taken to foster positive aging, profiles the work of museums providing creative aging programming, and shares lessons learned from the Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums initiative of Aroha Philanthropies.

Download your free copy of the report here.

Length: 68 pages
Format: PDF
Publication date: 2021

The Museum Summit on Creative Aging

On July 29, 2021 AAM presented Museum Summit on Creative Aging. This virtual summit provided museum professionals with inspiration, tools, and connections to help them serve the growing and underserved population of people who are “55 or better.” The conference recordings are available to AAM members here.

The half-day program included:

  • A keynote on aging and equity by Daphne Kwok, Vice President of Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Asian American & Pacific Islander Audience Strategy at AARP
  • An interactive workshop by the staff of Lifetime Arts—national leaders in creative aging program development.
  • Learning from Experience: Older Adults, Ageism and What Museums Can Do About It, a panel discussion featuring Toya Northington, Community Outreach Manager at the Speed Art Museum; and Eli Burke, Education Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson.
  • Breakout discussion rooms will give attendees the opportunity to engage more deeply with the speakers and panelists.

The summit recording can help directors and senior leadership assess how to partner with funders to integrate older audiences, as critical consumers and supporters, into their museum’s long-term plans for sustainability. The summit will introduce education and programming staff to creative aging programming and provide a map for exploring the practice in greater depth. For anyone, the summit provides a compelling vision of how museums can foster healthy aging in America, and offers a starting point for advancing this work.

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. The Museums and Aging blog features essays by luminaries in the field of creative aging shares examples of museums working with communities “fifty-five and better,” and summarizes 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 Museums and Aging blog.

About this Initiative

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

Creative Aging: In-Person to Online from Aroha Philanthropies on Vimeo.

This initiative is made possible with the generous support of Aroha Philanthropies.
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