Sages of Aging

A recent article from Next Avenue chronicles Age Wave’s Ken Dychtwald’s interviews with a dozen pioneers in the field of aging. In partnership with the American Society on Aging, Dychtwald initially produced a 12-part podcast series (watch/listen here or read excerpts here). The initiative has been made into a documentary, Sages of Aging, airing nationally beginning October 1, 2022 on public television. Tune in to hear from these leaders in the field of aging on wisdom, insights and legacy lessons about growing older. View the article here.

Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums Update

The Vitality Arts Project initiative has kicked off with several exciting updates:

Pilot cohort:
This summer, Lifetime Arts provided a customized two-day training to more than 30 staff from the nine cohort museums.
The initiative was featured in this article published by Artnet and referenced in this AARP article.
Request for Proposals:
A ‘How to Apply’ webinar is scheduled for AAMD members on Tuesday, September 27 at 11 am Central time.
Proposals are due by 5 p.m. Central Time on October 21, 2022. Click here to apply.

Request for Proposals: Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums

E.A. Michelson Philanthropy invites art museums across the United States to submit proposals to participate in its Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums initiative, which will help art museums reframe their relationships with older adults – to view them as essential, competent, creative and contributing participants in the life of the museum, and to develop Vitality Arts programs to engage them. View the full request for proposals and grant guidelines here. Frequently asked questions can be viewed here.

Members of the Association of Art Museum Directors are eligible to apply for this competitive national grant opportunity. A diverse cohort of up to 20 museums will be selected to receive grants of up to $250,000 to develop Vitality Arts programs, which create opportunities for older adults to experience the joy of learning an art form while building community. The cohort will join 9 art museums that are currently part of the Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums initiative. Current cohort members include Brooklyn Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, LACMA, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, New Orleans Museum of Art, Pérez Art Museum of Miami and Utah Museum of Fine Art. Since early 2021, museum consultants Brian Kennedy and András Szántó, have been advising E.A. Michelson Philanthropy on expanding the foundation's work to address ageism in American art museums. You can view the full press release here.

In addition, funded organizations will become thought leaders and advocates for a new relationship with older adults within their museum, in their community and among professional colleagues by speaking, writing and providing visibility for the work. Funded museums will also investigate and address the implications of ageism for their museum from a holistic standpoint while developing new programs that actively engage older adults.

“In just a few years, Americans older than 65 will outnumber those younger than 18 for the first time in the country’s history,” said Ellen Michelson, founder and president of E.A. Michelson Philanthropy. “Overall, across all demographic groups, people are living longer and staying mentally and physically healthy as they age. Yet the number of inspiring programs and activities for older adults is not expanding at the same rate. Investing in these creative aging programs is about recognizing this major demographic shift, and leveraging the power of art and art museums to do so. We have had tremendous success with these programs to date, engaging thousands of participants who consistently tell our grantees how grateful they are to be able to participate. Now, I am excited to expand our vision with an outstanding array of new museum partners.”

Proposals can be submitted starting August 1 and are due by 5 p.m. Central Time on October 21, 2022. Click here to apply.

Report on Older Americans & the Arts

We are pleased to announce the release of Untapped Opportunity: Older Americans & the Arts, a collaboration among LaPlaca Cohen, Slover Linett and E.A. Michelson Philanthropy.

This groundbreaking report sheds light on older generations’ distinct preferences and behaviors to provide relevant insights for cultural engagement. The corrosive ageism that permeates our culture leads us to see older people as “other,” but it turns out that older and younger adults want the same things from life: we all have a deep desire to have fun, to connect meaningfully with others, to create and to learn.

This report provides new data on people over 55 years of age. Importantly, it reveals older adults’ priorities in engaging with the arts: opportunities to belong, to learn something new and to feel a sense of accomplishment. The findings in this report align with E.A. Michelson Philanthropy’s $20 million commitment to support creative aging programs in more than 100 organizations over the past decade.

It’s time to change the narrative around aging. The report joins a growing but overdue body of research investigating how engagement with arts and culture activities evolve over our lifetimes. It challenges arts and cultural organizations to recognize something that has been hiding in plain sight—an enormous opportunity to develop and deliver quality programs of relevance to the fastest-growing segment of our society.

You can view this important and fascinating report here.

New Grants

We’re pleased to announce more than $2 million in new grant awards by E.A. Michelson Philanthropy to the organizations listed below. You can also see the full list of our extraordinary grantees here.

Discovery Arts
Children’s Theatre Company
Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts
Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies
MacPhail Center for Music
Minneapolis Institute of Art

Humanity Arts
MacPhail Center for Music

Vitality Arts
MacPhail Center for Music
Lifetime Arts

2022 AAM Annual Meeting

E.A. Michelson Philanthropy is thrilled to see creative aging included in the 2022 AAM Annual Meeting and Museum Expo in Boston. Two exciting sessions discussed the impact of creative aging in museums:

Thursday, May 19 from 9 - 12:30 pm EDT
Creative Aging: Paving the Way for Lifelong Learning in the Arts
This session featured our colleagues at Lifetime Arts as well as three E.A. Michelson Philanthropy museum grantees from our Seeding Vitality Arts initiative.

Saturday, May 21 from 9:10 - 10:10 am EDT
The Funders Perspective: Museums & Society

Lifetime Arts Launches New Creative Aging Resource

Lifetime Arts recently launched a new online creative aging resource that provides a browsable directory of hundreds of hand-curated creative aging research, media, and case studies, along with profiles of experts and organizations in creative aging. The resource serves as a hub for the field and invites organizations serving older adults to share information about their own creative aging work. To learn more, visit

AAM Announces 2022 Trendswatch Report

The American Alliance of Museums recently published the 2022 Trendswatch Report, the Center for the Future of Museums’ annual forecast of key issues facing museums. This year’s report frames the case for museums as vital public infrastructure, by virtue of five pillars of community strength and resilience to which museums contribute:

  • Education for our children
  • Livable communities for our elders
  • Mental health
  • Emergency response in the face of disasters
  • A human-centered culture of sustainability

We are proud to support this report and are especially thrilled to see the focus on "Livable Communities for our Elders" as one of the five pillars of community strength and resilience. We encourage you to read and share this important report with your network by clicking this link.

Creative Aging Participant Featured on Good Morning America

Creative Aging class participants from the Louisiana State Museum gather prior to the Mardi Gras Celebration. Photo Credit: Sara Lowenburg


A creative aging participant from the Louisiana State Museum, a Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums grantee, was recently featured on Good Morning America. Mr. Raymond Lewis, 92, was invited to mask with the Yellow Pocahontas as Chief Council during the 2022 Mardi Gras celebration. Mr. Lewis participated in a creative aging course at the museum, learning beading techniques and traditions from Big Chief Darryl Montana and Big Queen Dianne Honore of the Yellow Pocahontas Black Masking Indians. Over the course of eight weeks, participants created their own art and worked together to bead butterflies, trim feathers and create a suit for Mr. Lewis after his invitation to mask with the tribe. Participants in the class banded together to hire a pedicab for Mr. Lewis and supported their classmate during the celebration.

Learn more about Mr. Lewis and his participation in the celebration here.