Creative Aging Institute

About the Creative Aging Institute at the Akron Art Museum


In 2023, E.A. Michelson Philanthropy awarded more than $3 million in new grants to 16 art museums across the United States which included the Akron Art Museum. This grant from E.A. Michelson Philanthropy is a continuation of their investment in creative aging programs that are an essential part of addressing the coming demographic wave of older Americans. This grant supports the creation and execution of new programs aimed at museum audiences who are 55 years of age and better, these creative aging classes recognize the many benefits—social, emotional, and physical—of engaging older adults in the process of artistic creation. According to the National Institute on Aging, shows that older adults involved in the creative arts improve older adults’ quality of life and well-being, from better cognitive function, memory, and self-esteem to reduced stress and increased social interaction.   

Since receiving this grant, the Akron Art Museum has since developed the “Creative Aging Institute,” a workshop series whose focus is supporting creativity and connection for adults aged 55+.  The Akron Art Museum and E.A. Michelson Philanthropy hope that this class provides more awareness of ageism in our society while recognizing the role that art museums can play in providing creative aging opportunities to their community. 

Creative Aging Institute students attend specialized two-week programs centered around an artistic medium. They are taught by local artists and provided art history before getting the chance to create their own work to share in showcases. 


Sign up for Creative Aging Institute Programs

Check out the calendar to look for upcoming Creative Aging Institute programming.  


What are Creative Aging Institute Programs like?

 While participants who joined previous sessions did so for a variety of reasons, many seemed to find similar benefits. Below you’ll hear about their motivations for joining, impressions of what they have gained, and some surprises along the way. 

Here are some interviews conducted with Creative Aging Institute students by Merry Petroski, the Creative Aging Institute Project Manager:   

Have you explored your creativity in the past? 

  • I have done a lot creatively in the past, but maybe with more reservation/hesitation than I have now. After being in the workshop, I feel more confident to freely try different things and accept the outcomes, even if it isn’t what I set out to accomplish.

What motivated you to join the workshop? 

  • I liked that it was aimed toward my age group. I was looking for a creative outlet and inspiration. It was a chance to try something new at a time when I was feeling isolated.

Do you feel your fellow participants impacted your experience? 

  • I enjoyed connecting with other participants. Now, when I see someone from the workshop at an opening or other Museum event, we have a special connection. One of my favorite things about the workshops is that the mess is not at my house!

Tell us about the techniques you explored. 

  • The textiles class involved Shibori and Batik. I had done neither. I found it to be very fun and freeing. Our teacher facilitated a creative, risk-free environment. I’ve found it elevates my overall quality of life. It provides stress relief, a sense of accomplishment, stimulates new ways of thinking and ideas, and improves my emotional outlook on life. I truly hope the Akron Art Museum can continue a program like this aimed at the 55+ crowd.

What were the workshops like? 

  • We squeezed every minute out of our sessions! I was thrilled with how much I was able to soak up, both from the teachers and from my classmates- who came from a wonderful variety of backgrounds. I appreciated the chance to get to know new people in a welcoming, friendly setting where everyone shared an interest in creativity. It was a blast!

The Creative Aging Institute is made possible with support from E. A. Michelson Philanthropy. 

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