The Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums

E.A. Michelson Philanthropy launched in 2023 the Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums with grants totaling more than $5 million to 25 prominent art museums across the United States. These grants will be active between 2023 – 2024 and are supporting the creation of new programs aimed at museum audiences who are 55 years of age and older. These creative aging programs recognize the many benefits—social, emotional, and physical—of engaging older adults in the process of artistic creation.

The Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums 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. Each museum is developing these art-making programs to address a growing awareness of ageism in our society and in recognition of the role that art museums can play in providing creative aging opportunities to their community.

In May 2024 a second grant has been given through a matching grant process. This will allow the museums to continue their Vitality Arts workshop series through 2025.

Vitality Arts Project for Art Museums 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