After conducting community assessments and connecting with local artists, The Louisiana State Museum (LSM) team designed a creative aging workshop series representative of the interests and cultures of the people they sought to serve.
The Museum re-considered offering a conventional visual arts program, and instead developed a skill-building beadwork program which resonated deeply with existing and prospective patrons. Their workshop also highlighted selected objects from the Museum’s Cabildo collection and showcased relevant exhibits.
Connecting with their constituents in an organic, responsive way is a guiding principle for the Louisiana State Museum. LSM educators wanted to build programs around collections and exhibits related to The Cabildo, a historic Spanish colonial building in the city of New Orleans, which is part of the Museum. The team also wanted to make sure that creative aging programs would be culturally relevant to the diverse community that the Museum already serves. Initially, they thought they would offer typical visual arts programs for older adults in the form of three rounds of illustration and watercolor classes. While these artforms hold great interest for many, the LSM realized that they would need to dig deeper and engage local artists with community connections.
After learning about the importance of conducting participant surveys and community mapping in the Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums training provided by Lifetime Arts, the LSM soon realized it would be beneficial to think “out of the box” when determining artforms for their programs, and moved on from their initial ideas of illustration and watercolor.
These conversations led them to artist Big Chief Darryl Montana, a well-known and respected leader in New Orleans whose work was already on display in the Museum. Montana had never designed a beading curriculum with creative aging goals in mind. Together the LSM staff worked with Montana to design the curriculum, which took some time, but the pay off was worth it. His personal experiences and storytelling abilities drew many students in, enriched the courses, and forged new connections between the students and the Museum and regarding artmaking and learning. The course culminated in an exhibition of the students’ work at The Cabildo.
The beading exhibition was incredibly well-received by the participants and the general public. Many visitors commented on how excited they were to see the students’ creations. This exhibition gave the LSM a functional blueprint for the design and implementation of future community-created exhibitions.
Host Organization Name
The Louisiana Museum Foundation
Host Organization Description
From their website: The mission of the Louisiana State Museum (LSM) is to collect, preserve and present, as an educational resource,objects of art, documents, artifacts and the like that reflect the history, art and culture of Louisiana for the citizens and visitors to the State of Louisiana. LSM maintains, researches and exhibits artifacts from a permanent collection of nearly 500,000 objects, including visual arts, costumes, musical instruments, recordings, sheet music, photographs, and colonial documents.
Host Organization Website
During this 8-week beading course, Big Chief Darryl Montana of the Yellow Pocahontas Hunters taught a course on beading. Through storytelling, video and visuals, and museum exploration, participants immersed themselves in the culture and history of Mardi Gras Indian masking traditions and techniques. Participants also learned the traditional songs of Mardi Gras Indians and practiced together as a communal introduction to each session. This creative aging workshop was coordinated by Sara Lowenburg. PACE GNO partnered with The Louisiana Museum Foundation on this program.
The workshop was held in a large, well-lit multipurpose room.
Materials and equipment included: beads, sewing notions, paper, writing implements, and canvas
Participants were recruited primarily through print and e-fliers. The Museum targeted local community and senior centers and leveraged the teaching artist’s own network.
The culminating event was a group exhibition and reception of student work at The Cabildo.
Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums
Aroha Philanthropies’ Seeding Vitality Arts in Museums enables a diverse cohort of museums across America to develop and implement high quality, intensive arts learning opportunities for older adults.
The goals of Seeding Vitality Arts 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
- Disseminate effective program models
Case Study Details
case study topicsCulturally Responsive, Innovative Curriculum
art formMixed Media, Visual Arts
program site typeMuseums
includes virtual programming?No
8-12 sessions @ 90-120 min.
funding sourcePrivate Foundation