Museums and Creative Aging

The Museum Summit on Creative Aging

DecorativeThis program took place on Thursday, July 29, 2021, 1 – 6 pm ET

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

About the Museum Summit on Creative Aging

The COVID-19 pandemic and events of the past year have accelerated and amplified many existing societal challenges, particularly those in the areas of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI). Among those crucial challenges is that as people age, they are often pushed to the margins of society.

Extensive research shows the transformative effect that arts engagement can have on health and aging, but we face a cruel paradox. As people age, they often have both more time and an increased desire for creative outlets, but fewer opportunities to meet these needs.

In July of 2021, AAM, Aroha Philanthropies, and colleagues from across the country came together to provide inspiration, tools, and connections to help museum professionals better serve the growing and underserved population of people who are “55 or better.”

The summit helped 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 introduced education and programming staff to creative aging programming and provide a map for exploring the practice in greater depth.

For anyone, the summit provided a compelling vision of how museums can foster healthy aging in America, and offers a starting point for advancing this work.

Learn more about the program and speakers below.

Logo for Aroha Philanthropies


Made possible with the generous support of Aroha Philanthropies.

Watch recordings 

Captioned recordings are available to summit registrants and to AAM Individual, Tier 2, Tier 3, Industry, and Ally members.

DecorativeDecorativeWelcoming Remarks from Laura Lott, President & CEO, American Alliance of Museums, and Teresa Bonner, Executive Director, Aroha Philanthropies




Introducing the Museum Summit on Creative Aging

Elizabeth Merritt, VP Strategic Foresight at the American Alliance of Museums sets the stage for the Museum Summit on Creative Aging


Creating Belonging to Combat Anti-Asian Hate and Protect our Elders

Keynote by Daphne Kwok, Vice President of Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Asian American & Pacific Islander Audience Strategy at AARP


DecorativeA Conversation on Aging and Equity

A discussion with Daphne Kwok, Vice President of Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Asian American & Pacific Islander Audience Strategy at AARP, Lisa Sasaki, Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, and Edward Tepporn, Executive Director of the Angel Island Immigration Station, moderated by Andrew Plumley, Senior Director of Equity and Culture at AAM.


Learning from Experience: Older Adults, Ageism and What Museums Can Do About It.

Panel discussion with Eli Burke, Education Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson, Toya Northington, Community Engagement Strategist, Speed Art Museum, and Jill Smith, Director, Union County Heritage Museum, moderated by Elizabeth Merritt, VP Strategic Foresight, American Alliance of Museums.


The Societal and Personal Impacts of Creative Aging

A workshop presented by Annie Montgomery and Maura O’Malley of Lifetime Arts.


DecorativeCross-Sector Partnerships Key to Institutionalizing Creative Aging

Lifetime Arts CEO/Co-founder Maura O’Malley, Daphne Kwok, Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Asian American & Pacific Audience Strategy at AARP, and Andrew Plumley, Senior Director of Equity and Culture at the American Alliance of Museums will discuss the impact and efficacy of multi-level, cross-sector collaborations in advancing creative aging. Moderated by Shannon K. McDonough, Deputy Director of Lifetime Arts.

Older Adult Museum-Goers: A Data Story

Older Adult Museum-Goers: A Data Story

Susie Wilkening, Principal of Wilkening Consulting, summarizes her research on adults over the age of 50, what they expect from the museum experience, and how museums can meet their needs.

Speakers and Panelists

Our Keynote Speaker:

Headshot of Daphne Kwok

Daphne Kwok, Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Asian American & Pacific Audience Strategy, AARP

Daphne Kwok is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Asian American & Pacific Audience Strategy at AARP.  Her work empowers Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to choose how they live as they age.  She brings to AARP her experience as a “leader of leaders” through her community service in promoting and empowering the AAPI community. Ms. Kwok was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010 to chair his Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Commission served as the “eyes and ears” of the community advising the President and the federal government about the issues impacting the AAPI community. Previously, Ms. Kwok was Executive Director of Asians & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California.  She was also the Executive Director of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation in San Francisco.   For 11 years, she was the Executive Director of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), a national membership based civil rights organization.  She was the first elected Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, a network of national APA organizations.  She also served as Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.

Headshot of Lisa SasakiLisa Sasaki, Interim Director, Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum

Ms. Sasaki was appointed interim director in March 2021, having taken temporary leave from her position as director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Before joining the Smithsonian, she was the director of the Audience and Civic Engagement Center at the Oakland Museum of California. From 2003 to 2012, she was director of program development at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) in Los Angeles, where she directed major institutional projects. During her tenure at JANM, she supervised the museum’s curatorial, public programs, web, education and collections departments and managed and led the strategic planning for programs, exhibitions, audience development and fundraising. Sasaki earned her bachelor’s degree in history and archaeology from Cornell University and her master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Denver.

Headshot of Edward TeppornEdward Tepporn, Executive Director, Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF)

Edward Tepporn is the Executive Director of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF), the primary nonprofit organization working in partnership with CA State Parks to preserve the buildings at the former US Immigration Station at Angel Island and to uplift its histories and stories. He has over 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. He previously served on staff at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) for nearly 16 years, most recently leading the organization’s Chief Strategy Office as APIAHF’s Executive Vice President. Edward received a B.A. in Biology and Psychology from Washington University. He was also a Nelson Mandela Scholarship recipient in the M.S.W. program at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work. He is a certified professional leadership coach. Edward is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Fellow.

Headshot of Eli BurkeEli Burke, Education Director, Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson

Eli Burke is the Education Director at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson and a PhD candidate in Art and Visual Culture Education at the University of Arizona. His research focus is on the arts and intergenerational learning within the LGBTQIA+ community.

Headshot of Sara LowenburgSara Lowenburg, Manager of Education, Louisiana State Museum

Sara Lowenburg is the Manager of Education at the Louisiana State Museum, where she oversees educational programming for the New Orleans locations, serving diverse audiences through family programs, public events, art courses, K-12 resources, and more. She previously worked in New York City as a Museum Educator for Access Programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum and as the Education Associate at the Museum at Eldridge Street. She received her B.A. in History from Grinnell College in 2013 and M.A. in Museum Studies from NYU in 2017 and is originally from New Orleans.

Headshot of Maura O’MalleyMaura O’Malley, CEO/Co-founder, Lifetime Arts

Named a 2017, “Influencer in Aging,” by PBS Next Avenue, Maura contributes to the national development of the creative aging field through the design and delivery of cross-sector initiatives and Lifetime Arts’ capacity building services. Maura earned a BFA at Pratt Institute and a Master of Public Administration from New York University.


Susie Wilkening, Principal of Wilkening Consulting, summarizes her research on adults over the age of 50, what they expect from the museum experience, and how museums can meet their needs.

Headshot of Shannon McDonoughShannon McDonough, Deputy Director, Lifetime Arts

A member of the senior team, Shannon develops and promotes Lifetime Arts’ services via the management of a digital portfolio including, the Creative Aging Resource, the Creative Aging Portal, and Lifetime Arts online courses. Shannon oversees a multi-disciplinary team who manage marketing, communications, editorial, social media, media production, content curation, web development and design efforts. Previously, Shannon led digital content curation at Harvard Business Publishing, and digital strategy at the JFK Library Foundation and Harvard Law School. She holds a MLIS in library and information science from Simmons University, and a BA in English Literature from Stonehill College. Shannon has also worked for global brands such as DDB Worldwide and Condé Nast where she served in various roles across corporate PR/communications, talent development, and enterprise web content management.

Headshot of Annie MontgomeryAnnie Montgomery, Director of Education, Lifetime Arts

Annie leads the design and delivery of Lifetime Arts’ many professional development and education efforts. She has presented on Creative Aging at several national conferences including: The National Guild for Community Arts Education, Grantmakers in the Arts, and the National Assembly of Arts Agencies. She is also part of the faculty at The New School in New York City.



Headshot of Steve BennettSteve Bennett, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) project manager, Union County Historical Society and Heritage Museum

Stephen Bennett is the VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) project manager at Union County Heritage Museum and has been with them for two years.  His background is in music, education, and administration in local churches in Mississippi and Arkansas.  Today, Mr. Bennett’s primary responsibilities are children’s programming and educational projects through the efforts of Union County Heritage Museum.

Other responsibilities include museum tours and daily oversight of workshops for adults and children.  His work has given him hands-on experience and new insight into the continuing needs of adults during their aging process.

Andrew Plumley, Senior Director of Equity and Culture, American Alliance of Museums

Andrew Plumley is Senior Director of Equity and Culture at the American Alliance of Museums where he oversees both AAM’s internal DEAI (diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion) work, as well as the Ford, Walton, and Mellon foundation-funded Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity and Inclusion initiative. He started his career in education, where he advised higher education institutions on diversity and inclusion strategy, as well as provided access and success programming for Pell-eligible students of color. A systems entrepreneur, Andrew focuses on creating lasting systems change for the communities he partners with and supports. He currently serves as a Young Black and Giving Back Institute board chair, Treasurer for the Committee to Elect Jeanne Lewis for DC City Council, an ATMTC diversity, equity, and inclusion task force member, an American Express N-Gen Fellow, as well as served as a city council appointed Police Commissioner in the state of Vermont. Andrew has a BA from Middlebury College, and received an MBA with a focus in social and environmental sustainability from the University of Vermont’s Grossman School of Business.

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