The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has a long history of offering art-making classes for all ages, and the museum staff has witnessed the transformative power of the creative process.
LACMA used an intentional process to actively integrate their creative aging programming into the overall mission of the museum. By designing a studio class with goals specific to an older audience, LACMA recognized an opportunity to increase its value as a resource for adults to build confidence, self-worth, and community.
The Museum developed evaluation tools across the course of the program to measure artistic, social, and emotional outcomes. The whole staff worked together to develop language about why this program was important and why it would serve older adults, in order to successfully incorporate it into their list of services, and ensure its sustainability. The organization integrated the assessments and program evaluation into the everyday practice of the program on an ongoing basis. The resulting collection of quantitative and qualitative data adds scope and breadth to their evaluation over time and allows comparison from year to year for annual progress to sustain the program model.
Create+Collaborate was supported by Aroha Philanthropies.
One challenge the team identified was integrating the Vitality and Art: Create+Collaborate (C+C) program into the overall mission of LACMA. The team understood that a pilot program could begin and end with a grant term if they didn’t build a strong infrastructure for the program. Also, in their program design, LACMA wanted to be sure to clearly define program intentions and use evaluation techniques to measure program fidelity and change in older adults.
With evaluation beginning at the inception of the planning process, LACMA staff members were joined by Susy Watts, an independent arts-education consultant specializing in planning and assessment, to develop a framework for a Theory of Change and Logic Model, which was selected as the best approach to effect change and evaluate achievements through the C+C program.
First and foremost, the Theory of Change framework was designed to inform older adult participants about this study, the intended program outcomes (including Artistic, Social, and Emotional Outcomes), and indicators that would serve as evidence of their personal artistic and social achievements. Second, it was positioned to inform LACMA education staff, the instructional team, and the museum’s administrative leadership about the focus and impact of the program. Third, the framework positioned LACMA to design additional programming, sustain and seek further funding, communicate shared messages, and ultimately report to the greater staff, local community, and funders about how effectively overall goals and specific outcomes are being met.
Host Organization Name
LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Host Organization Description
Located on the Pacific Rim, LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States, with a collection of more than 142,000 objects that illuminate 6,000 years of artistic expression across the globe. Committed to showcasing a multitude of art histories, LACMA exhibits and interprets works of art from new and unexpected points of view that are informed by the region’s rich cultural heritage and diverse population. LACMA’s spirit of experimentation is reflected in its work with artists, technologists, and thought leaders as well as in its regional, national, and global partnerships to share collections and programs, create pioneering initiatives, and engage new audiences. LACMA’s mission is to serve the public through the collection, conservation, exhibition, and interpretation of significant works of art from a broad range of cultures and historical periods, and through the translation of these collections into meaningful educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the widest array of audiences.
Host Organization Website
Create+Collaborate is a free 10-session printmaking class designed for older adults (ages 65+) who are seeking to learn new skills and join a community of peers who also share this interest. Through active participation, students look at art in the museum’s galleries, experiment with different printmaking techniques, engage in the process of learning, and contribute to the collaborative spirit of the class.
Students in the sessions profiled here were asked to commit to a 10-session course that included looking at, talking about, and making art with a teaching artist. Each session met for three hours. The pilot program offered fall, winter, and spring cycles in 2017–18 and allowed participants to re-enroll, with 12-15 participants per class. Since the pilot year, programming has continued to grow and to note, that with the onset of COVID-19, they successfully adapted their older adult programming to online formats.
Students balanced learning skills in printmaking with building artistic content in their work. Artworks from LACMA’s collection, along with participants’ life experiences and interests, served as catalysts for the artistic content of their prints. Equally important in the workshops were opportunities for older adults to share their understandings and perspectives.
This program has been supported by Aroha Philanthropies.
Create+Collaborate focuses on learning different methods of printmaking, specifically relief and monoprints. This artistic medium was selected for its skills-based approach — a quality favored by older adult learners, according to educational research. Students balance learning skills in printmaking with building artistic content in their work. Throughout the art-making process, students demonstrated to one another the skills they were learning and the sources of inspiration for their artwork.
Through active participation in the class participants also learn how to collaborate, support the work of others, reflect on their practice and the value of empathy and self-worth.
LACMA consists of a series of buildings with art galleries to exhibit its collections and exhibitions. In addition, the Education Department has a dedicated space for artmaking. Create+Collaborate takes place in the museum’s galleries to view and discuss works of art and in the Education Department’s studio. In April, the program pivoted to online learning, due to COVID-19. To date the program takes place via Zoom.
The materials required included linoleum blocks, inks, and rollers.
During the program’s pilot year, LACMA focused on participants aged 65+ who were affiliated with St. Barnabas Senior Services (SBSS), an organization that has been serving economically vulnerable older adults in Los Angeles County for over 100 years. Staff at SBSS were able to identify and recruit students with an interest in art, art making, and creative programming, or those who could benefit most from a program of this type. LACMA chose to partner with SBSS, rather than advertise the class to the general public, in order to expand its audience beyond members of the target age group who already seek the museum as a resource.
C+C was promoted to older adults at St. Barnabas Senior Services through the assistance of SSBS staff, bilingual flyers, bilingual presentations by LACMA staff at SBSS, and a free printmaking workshop at the Hollywood SBSS site.
After the fall cycle, LACMA staff recognized that the program would have a greater impact on students if they were given the opportunity to continue. For the winter cycle, a lottery was conducted at SBSS in MacArthur Park to include only a few returning students while still leaving spaces open for new students from the Hollywood and Echo Park sites.
Students presented their work to family and friends in a culminating installation and reception at LACMA at the end of each cycle. St. Barnabas Senior Services made space at their facility for a permanent installation of student work, which LACMA had framed, as inspiration to peers and a point of personal pride and self-worth within their own institution.
One of the many things that I cherish about teaching the C+C classes is watching my students being surprised with the outcome of their prints. That moment of joy and silent pride seeing for themselves what they are capable of creating is very precious to me.
My favorite part about seeing a first-time printmaker is looking at their initial reaction after their lino piece has gone through the press. Their eyes open up, an inspirational breath followed up with an “Aww” and smile.
Case Study Details
case study topicsOrganizational Commitment, Sustainability
art formPrintmaking, Visual Arts
program site typeMuseums
includes virtual programming?Yes
8-12 sessions @ More than 120 min.
funding sourcePrivate Foundation