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Creative aging programs improve seniors' health through new artistic skills

Georgia Museum of Art

Over the past few years, you may have noticed “creative aging” programs on the museum’s calendar, but what exactly are they? Callan Steinmann, the museum’s curator of education, says the term can refer to a broad range of arts programs for older adults. A National Endowment for the Arts study in the early 2000s and many since then have found that learning new artistic skills improved seniors’ health in myriad ways. Participants in short-term art workshops and classes visited the doctor less often, had better measures of mental health, increased their involvement in other social activities, and reported improvement in their social lives.

The museum has been working intentionally with seniors for nearly two decades, thanks to the efforts of Diane Barret, a doctoral graduate of UGA’s art education program. Barret ran the museum’s senior outreach program that brought older adults to the museum for a tour and followed up with hands-on workshops.

We’ve continued to expand our creative aging programs in recent years, with some fantastic offerings for folks 55 and up. Our Creative Aging Seated Yoga program features gentle seated yoga in the galleries, and the Creative Aging Art Workshop includes close looking and conversation in the galleries, followed by hands-on artmaking and community building. Both programs are free and held four times a year. No previous experience with yoga or artmaking is required. To find out about upcoming dates and how to register, visit the museum’s website at georgiamuseum.org or become a Friend of the Museum for free at jointhemuseum.com.