To position themselves as a place intended for all ages, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art developed a creative aging program series, “Create with The Carle!” These programs offered adults the opportunity to learn new artmaking skills while using the museum’s collection as inspiration. To better accommodate older adult learners, the museum conducted several assessments to determine their facilities’ ability to serve older adults. The process also helped them identify nearby senior service organizations partners.
As a museum dedicated to picture book art and children’s books, The Carle’s targeted audience was typically perceived as children and their families. However, the museum has always been committed to serving all ages through their exhibitions and programs, and they desired to viewed as a place for everyone.
When assessing their facilities’ ability to accommodate older adult art makers, they identified a barrier to accessibility in their art studio. The seating would not be accommodating to all older adults as the stools were hard to sit on if a person had any mobility or balance challenges. They also identified difficulties in scheduling sequential programming that could meet routinely among all of the museum’s other programs and offerings.
To institutionalize older adult programming and solidify the museum as a place for all ages, The Carle established and branded a creative aging program series: “Create with The Carle!” Developed specifically for a 55+ audience, these programs signaled that the museum welcomes older adults. These programs proved to be so desirable, that one couple traveled all the way from Woodstock, NY (a two-hour drive) to participate.
To make the museum more accessible and accommodating, The Carle invested in comfortable seating with armchairs allowing older adults to work comfortably and safely. To address scheduling issues, the museum developed relationships with a nearby senior living facility and local senior centers, arranging to deliver the classes at these organizations’ sites, as well as at the museum. These partnerships provided a direct connection to older adults in the community. The off-site spaces were more than adequate to create art, and were already designed to be accessible for all older adults.
Host Organization Name
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
Host Organization Description
From their website: The mission of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a non-profit organization in Amherst, Massachusetts, is to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books. A leading advocate in its field, The Carle collects, preserves, presents, and celebrates picture books and picture book illustrations from around the world. In addition to underscoring the cultural, historical, and artistic significance of picture books and their art form, The Carle offers educational programs that provide a foundation for arts integration and literacy.
The Carle houses more than 11,000 objects, including 7,300 permanent collection illustrations, three art galleries, an art studio, a theater, picture book and scholarly libraries, and educational programs for families, scholars, educators, and schoolchildren. Educational offerings include professional training for educators around the country and four onsite graduate programs in Children’s Literature in collaboration with Simmons University.
Host Organization Website
Starting in 2017, The Carle offered seven creative aging programs, including bookmaking, printmaking, collage, and creative writing. The museum held the programs both on-site at the museum and off-site with nearby senior service organizations. All of the programs used the museum’s collection as inspiration and learning resources. The programming was coordinated by Meg Nicoll. Applewood Retirement Community, South Hadley Senior Center and Granby Senior Center partnered with The Carle on these programs.
Onsite: The Carle utilized a large studio space designed for youth drop-in programming. The space had stools, large group workstations, and limited storage space for long-term projects.
Offsite: The Carle partnered with senior service organizations, which offered a variety of multipurpose rooms with seating, tables, and some sink access.
Programs were advertised on The Carle’s website, on their social media, at local movie theaters, and in newspapers. In addition, flyers were distributed to partner organizations and local libraries.
There was a smaller culminating event for each offsite program at the respective senior center, followed by a larger event at the The Carle combining all four programs.
Seeding Vitality Arts US
Aroha Philanthropies’ Seeding Vitality Arts US enables a diverse cohort of organizations across America to develop and implement high quality, intensive arts learning opportunities for older adults.
The initiative’s goals are to:
- Demonstrate the power and impact of creative aging programs to a broad national audience
- Encourage arts and cultural organizations to develop participatory arts education programs for older adults
- Encourage organizations that serve older adults to develop arts education programming
- Refine and disseminate effective program models
Case Study Details
case study topicsOrganizational Commitment, Partnerships, Recruitment
art formLiterary Arts, Visual Arts
program site typeMuseums, Senior Centers
population densityRural, Suburban
includes virtual programming?No
8-12 sessions @ 90-120 min.
funding sourcePrivate Foundation