Museums can combat ageism with creative programming, report finds


Cultural institutions have the potential to actively support older people and address issues of ageism by providing creative aging programming, a report from the American Alliance of Museums finds.

Creative aging programs, a research-driven educational methodology, can empower older adults to develop their creativity while they make and strengthen community connections and friendships. Commissioned and funded by Aroha Philanthropies, the report, Museums and Creative Aging: A Healthful Partnership (70 pages, PDF), found that seniors are becoming a larger portion of the world’s population, and older Americans control almost 70 percent of the nation’s wealth. The report’s authors recommend that museums engage with this population by investing in a diverse array of onsite and online creative aging programs and working to combat society’s prejudices toward older people and fostering new kinds of research and partnerships to advance the museum sector’s goals.

For instance, museums should develop intergenerational programs in artmaking; offer ongoing training in intergenerational understanding and communication skills; and invest in a deeper understanding of older people who visit museums and those who do not.

“Creative aging programming brings people together, and as we have seen during the pandemic, opportunities to connect and be creative alongside others are essential to the well-being of older adults,” said Aroha Philanthropies executive director Teresa Bonner. “As bastions of community and culture, museums have an ethical imperative to embrace the creative aging movement and to position themselves as places for older people to seek out meaningful social connections, rediscover a sense of purpose, and engage in joyful experiences.”


Museums can combat ageism with creative programming, report finds. Philanthropy News Digest. (2021, June 14). Retrieved September 10, 2021, from 


This article seems so relevant because it is from only a couple months ago and brings together creativity and local facilities like museums to foster intergenerational relationships to help all ages connect and get their brains moving! This article was a short summary of a more thorough 70 page report from the American Alliance of Museums that had more detailed descriptions of findings from facilitating this kind of program. They chose museums because they are “bastions of community and culture,” but I wonder what other facilities could house this kind of program, like a senior center or library. Things like this seem so simple yet so impactful. It just seems like motivating people to get creative and giving them a way to do so is powerful. But in terms of mobility, assisting in a way to get to things like this, or do them from home or in an adapted way will be something to address.