The Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums

E.A. Michelson Philanthropy has launched the Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums with grants to nine prominent art museums and a Request for Proposals for grants of up to $250,000 to support Vitality Arts program development in up to 20 additional U.S. art museums.

This new initiative will help art museums strategically reframe their relationships with older adults – to understand them as essential, competent, creative and contributing participants in the life of the museum – and to create Vitality Arts programs designed for them.

Soon, and for the first time in history, there will be more Americans over 65 than under 18. Older adults today are healthier and more financially secure than ever before. And contrary to popular belief, the vast majority remain independent and cognitively fit well into their 80s and beyond, offering art museums new opportunities to build community, engage audiences and develop intergenerational programs.

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Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums Pilot Grantees

The initiative draws on best practices identified by the American Alliance of Museums in its report, “Museums and Creative Aging: A Healthful Partnership,” as well as E.A. Michelson Philanthropy’s Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums (2018-2020) grant cohort. Museums in that earlier cohort successfully developed and completed more than two years of Vitality Arts programming, including online programs designed to meet the challenges of the pandemic.

Culture Track‘s 2022 report, Untapped Opportunity: Older Americans & The Arts, provides new data on older adults’ priorities in engaging with the arts. Both the AAM and Culture Track reports showcase the enormous opportunity to develop and deliver quality programs of relevance to the fastest growing segment of our society.

E.A. Michelson Philanthropy is grateful to museum consultants András Szántó, Ph.D., and Brian Kennedy, Ph.D., who are advising on the design and development of this major initiative, as well as Lifetime Arts, which will provide training and technical assistance to the participating art museums.

"We wanted to focus on older adults who may not see the museum as being a place for them, who may not see themselves as being creative. We wanted to give them opportunities to feel that joy of immersing yourself in the process of making."

— Karen Satzman, LACMA, Los Angeles, CA