Creative Age Initiative

With generous support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Columbia Museum of Art began its Creative Age Initiative in an effort to build a more engaging and accessible institution for seniors. Our project produced a stronger learning and social platform for older adults—primarily age 70 and above—living in the central region of South Carolina and serves as a critical community resource. 

  • The daytime Baker & Baker concert series saw steady growth, with 227 attendees in FY14, 267 in FY15, and 525 in FY16.

  • Other daytime programs, including lectures and salon talks, also grew dramatically, thanks to accessibility modifications and marketing through the Creative Age Initiative. FY14 attendance was 232, growing to 924 in FY15 and 1,114 in FY16.

  • Adult Art School programs also grew, with a nearly 77% increase in attendance for daytime workshops from FY13 to FY16.

  • Attendance for senior group tours grew nearly tenfold from FY14 to FY16, from just 28 in year one to 220 in year three.

  • The CMA Docent Corps, a vibrant group comprised almost exclusively of retirees and senior citizens, saw senior membership grow by nearly 7% during the grant period.

  • Based on available data, senior memberships at the CMA grew by some 78% from FY14 to FY15, and remained strong through FY16.

  • With some 45 senior tours between October 2013 and June 2016, the CMA attracted 718 visitors through these programs.

In total, the Creative Age Initiative helped not only to sustain existing senior participation, but draw additional attendance of 4,803 seniors to the museum through enriching new programs and accessibility measures — more than four times the goal established in the original grant proposal.

We have produced a Creative Age Toolkit, which we hope will provide valuable insights and examples for other museums across the United States, and we look forward to communicating with and learning from our friends at other cultural institutions as they pursue similar initiatives.

Download the Toolkit