Targeted Museum Programs for Older Adults: A Research and Program Review


Older adults are a growing segment of the population in the United States and other countries, but museum professionals are generally not as familiar with designing and evaluating programs for the elderly as they are for younger audiences. This study reviews research about, and descriptions of, programs targeted at older adults that can provide models for program development, improvement, and evaluation for museum professionals. Information from the past thirty years was reviewed, and the sources, settings, audiences, methods, types, and outcomes of 142 programs were examined. Five main types of programs were found: reminiscence, object-oriented, art, storytelling, and lectures—along with an array of benefits for participants. The most common outcomes of programs for older adults were increased socialization and improved mood. The review found that many models for museum programming and related research exist in the health sector, and implications for museum research and practice are discussed.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 02/01/2016