Careful Planning and Continuous Refinement: Online Programming Success for Museo de Historia, Antropología, y Arte

Case Summary

Having been a member of the 2019-2020 Aroha’ Philanthropies’ Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums cohort, Museo de Historia, Antropología, y Arte had some experience delivering remote creative aging programming when they applied for and received additional funding from Aroha to design and deliver a new, fully-online visual arts program, La Vida es un Arte 2.0, (Life is an Art Form 2.0).

Drawing on lessons learned in spring 2020 when they moved a visual arts program online due to strict COVID-19 quarantine and lockdown measures, Museo’s team planned the new offering. Delivery format, the stability of internet access, technical support, and an engaging culminating event online would all present challenges to the team. Through careful planning and continuous refinement, La Vida es un Arte 2.0 drew raves from 40 participants who learned how to draw with materials found in the home during 4 two-hour sessions each offered in September and October 2020.


The programming team: Lisa Ortega-Pol (museum educator); Katherine Marquéz (marketing specialist), and Raúl Olmo (teaching artist), faced several challenges:

Online format:

  • Would older adults thrive during long online sessions?
  • Would Google Meet present technical issues for the participants?
  • Would frequent blackouts and energy surges due to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria disrupt teaching and learning?

Culminating event:

  • With the museum closed due to quarantine, how would they mount a virtual culminating event and showcase participant artwork in an engaging way online?


Technical support

The team began their assessment of technical issues as they interacted with registrants during the recruitment phase. The museum staff member providing technical support contacted participants before each session to ensure that they could log in to Google Meet successfully. If Raúl ran into technical issues during a live session, a back-up staff member was on call with a copy of the presentation and other resources. These materials were sent to participants after class so they could review presentation details, assignment instructions and written critiques. In-between sessions, participants were able to communicate with the teaching artist via WhatsApp. While the team did account for the time that would need to be spent on technical support, they learned that they could have budgeted even more time. Ultimately, the team extended the sessions to two hours to account for greetings, farewells, and power interruptions. Future online creative aging programs would likely be scheduled for 5 two-hour sessions vs. four 1.5 hour sessions.

Teaching and learning

As he does in his in-person teaching, Raúl injected humor into his virtual lessons, encouraging a safe space for creative expression and community-based learning. He invited participants to share examples of their work between classes, and compiled slideshows of these images to use as a discussion tool providing continuous feedback and supporting skill-building and social engagement. Although beneficial for student learning, this additional, asynchronous process also required more time and behind the scenes work than originally anticipated. 

The culminating event

The museum staff wanted to showcase student work in a memorable way that retained the sense of community and accomplishment of an in-person exhibition. After researching several options, the team selected a virtual art exhibition app called Kunstmatrix, to create a 3-D, web-based augmented reality display.

During the closing event, participants expressed their desire to continue creating. They felt more confident in using Google Meet and participating in more creative aging programs online. Participants from the program continue to stay connected through the museum’s La Vida es un Arte 55+ Facebook page to share articles and learn about other creative aging programs.

  Organizational Profile

Host Organization Name

The Museo de Historia y Antropología y Arte

Host Organization Description

From Museo de Historia y Antropología y Arte’s website:

Established in 1951 at the University of Puerto Rico, Museo de Historia y Antropología y Arte is dedicated to serving the historical, anthropological and artistic cultural heritage of Puerto Rico in order to educate, foster and promote knowledge and appreciation of their culture.

Host Organization Website

La Vida es un Arte 2.0 consisted of four live sessions that were two hours each week. The workshop aimed to develop and sharpen the student’s observation skills by studying basic drawing procedures using simple drawing media (and house staples) like graphite pencil and ink pen on paper. Students in this course developed both technical aptitudes and creative thinking towards tools and subject matter. Students were expected to work live on their exercises during the sessions and encouraged to ask questions, show their work, and comment. The teaching artist used ice-breakers or other activities to motivate social engagement. Each session covered one or two techniques, practice, and a homework assignment.

  Learning Objectives

At the end of the virtual workshop, students:

  1. Acquired a new perception of drawing and the challenges that are intrinsic to the development of an image
  2. Gained knowledge of basic drawing materials and techniques
  3. Held constructive criticism (critiques) amongst peers with confidence

  Material / Equipment Details

Materials and equipment included scrap paper, bond paper, a medium size drawing pad and graphite pencil.

  Recruitment and Marketing Details

This program was promoted on the museum’s social media platforms and via it’s email list. During the enrollment process, the staff identified participants who would need technical assistance.

  Culminating Event Details

The museum staff shared participant’s final work online by using Kunstmatrix, a virtual art exhibition app, to create a 3-D, augmented reality display.

  About the Initiative

Developed and funded by Aroha Philanthropies, the Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums Initiative enables diverse cohorts of museums across America to develop and implement high quality, intensive arts learning opportunities for older adults. Training and technical assistance is provided by Lifetime Arts.

“Each closing event was highly emotional with heartfelt expressions of enthusiasm and gratitude. Students said on many occasions that these workshops had a positive impact on their lives. The workshops were like a ñapa (a bonus) for those who had participated in our previous creative aging program and an opportunity to stay connected with those who had met during the workshops.”

program coordinator

“I loved the teaching artist, Raúl Olmo. His knowledge and dedication as well as his guidance and criticism of the works facilitated learning. I liked the respect and camaraderie generated.”


Case Study Details

case study topics

Innovative Curriculum, Online Programming, Organizational Commitment

organization type


art form

Drawing, Visual Arts

population density


includes virtual programming?


session details

Fewer than 8 sessions @ 90-120 min.



funding source

Private Foundation


Aroha Philanthropies