Old masters: creativity and the ageing brain – a special event at the British Museum

Hokusai passed away at the age of 89 with some of his best work created in his later years. Michelangelo lived and practised until the age of 89, Monet until 86, O’Keefe 98, Louise Bourgeois 99 and Titian 86. Case histories such as this point in one direction – the extraordinary flowering of artistic genius in old age.

Drilling down into the subjects of lifelong creative endeavour, the neuroplasticity of the older brain and the correlation between ageing and heightened risk-taking, this panel discussion explores ageing and creativity across global art history, as well as the enduring example of Katsushika Hokusai, the self-declared ‘old man crazy to paint’.

Chaired by Joan Bakewell, the panel includes writer and art critic Martin Gayford, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience Lorraine Tyler, University of Cambridge, and Angus Lockyer, SOAS.

Friday 30 June 2017,
BP Lecture Theatre
Tickets £5
Members/Concessions £3

Book here: here

Presented in collaboration with the British Academy.

West Midlands Age Friendly Museums Network

If you’re in or around the West Midlands and are interested in age friendly practice then pop along to this regional network’s second informal get together. You don’t have to be a museum professional, nor do you need to be working with older people – you just need to be willing to share thoughts and ideas.

16th June  :  New Art Gallery Walsall  :  10.30-12.30


Do let Rosie Barker at Birmingham Museums Trust know if you intend to join.

0121 348 8103  Rosie.Barker@birminghammuseums.org.uk

Quick update from the AFMN conference

Thank you to everyone who gave their time and energy to making the cross-sector conference a success on Thursday, and to those keeping everyone informed via Twitter #AFMNconference.

Here’s a taste of the illustrations beautifully created on the day by Scriberia:


20170216_164449 20170216_164442 20170216_164354 20170216_164428 20170216_164500 20170216_164452

©  Scriberia Limited 2016

More to follow…

Leading the Network and getting things done.

As a student nurse many years ago I was told that managing was about getting things done. That has rang true with me throughout a varied career as I learned to be a better manager and a better leader. I love getting things done, seeing outcomes, achieving things.

Leadership is about understanding self, being aware of others, supporting yourself and each other to reach a goal. This was the focus of the Age Friendly Museums leadership sessions, the first of which was in October when 20 participants mainly from small and medium sized museums signed up to galvanize their leadership skills and go out to their local communities, develop the Network and get things done.

It’s amazing what range of skills we use when we work together. The participants formed groups based on their geographical area, and over the last few weeks have been planning and organising events which will help them to learn even more about working with older people, get to know more about their local community and the different cross-sector professionals who work there and most of all bring their own leadership styles to the fore.

So now we are establishing pockets of hubs, talented leaders from Leeds to Exeter who are spreading the word and making the Network more hands on and inspiring museums who are starting out on their age-friendly journey. Leadership with community development is a great combination, and our leaders are certainly getting a lot done.

In January we revisit expectations and look more closely at personal development. In February our National Conference will include feedback and presentations from our hub leaders, offering chance to perform on a national stage.

Come and see how they do.

Jane Turner, Age Friendly Museums Network

Age Friendly Museums Day, meeting the challenge of involving Care Home residents

The British Museum is hosting an event for residents of care homes this year as a part of their Age Friendly Museums Day celebration on Sunday 9th October. Preparing for the event has been more of a challenge this year as care homes have less care staff, or activity co-ordinators employed on a Sunday.Tracking down those homes which are enthusiastic  – and have staff prepared to give up their weekend – has been quite time consuming.

But they are getting there, and so far have recruited  7 care homes who will be taking residents along. Simply looking online for local care homes, picking up the phone and talking to the activity co-ordinator or the manager seems to be the best way to get them on board. Nothing beats the personal phone call. Nightingale House in Balham,London for example, is one of the largest homes in the UK and their Head of Activities Alistair Addison was so keen he booked their minibus immediately. Of course many homes do not have their own transport but they can book an accessible minibus through their local Community Transport service or organise taxis.

Museums across the country are invited to celebrate Age Friendly Museums Day, and it doesn’t need to be as challenging. They can simply invite older people into an exhibition for free or provide free refreshments, promote an existing activity or, like the British Museum organise a special  event with older audiences.

The Network has teamed up with Silver Sunday this year to promote the Day so a museum can submit an event which will be on the Silver Sunday website. The event can be either Silver Sunday (8th October) or an Age Friendly Museums Day event (first week of October – or thereabouts!). Follow the link to sign up. http://silversunday.org.uk/submit-an-event/

This is the second year the British Museum has put on the event for care home residents.. Last year there were around 55 participants on the day, who enjoyed a handling session, talked to curators, had a look around the galleries,  joined in some Breton dancing and visited the ‘Celts: art and identity’ exhibition. Lets hope they wow them again this year!


Age Friendly Museums are ‘Encountering the Unexpected’

July 2016 saw the first exciting collaborative ‘exchanges’ between the project team, museums and strategic partners with a new project Encountering the Unexpected.


The two year project aims to transform the way in which museums use their natural heritage collections, by creating meaningful encounters between older people and collections that abound with the unfamiliar, the extraordinary and the unexpected. It will identify and explore how these rich collections can be activated to support and enthuse older people; to re-connect with the contemporary and fast changing world around them; and to encourage them to have a stake in the future

The first ‘exchange’ explored values and ambitions, the needs of older people as well as exploring ‘connectedness’ in the natural world.  The natural world has something for everyone and is everywhere. There is often an emotional link with nature which can be rewarding and enlightening. So what can museums with natural history collections do to engage their older audiences?

Funded by the Museum Association’s Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, Encountering the Unexpected is a partnership between the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG), University of Leicester, the North West Natural History Museums Partnership, and strategic partners including The Eden Project, Age UK and Equal Arts as well as the Age Friendly Museums Network.

(Photograph: Benedict Johnson. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum)

New report from the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing


New report from the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing explores the likely impact on the museum sector of the ageing demographic. More importantly perhaps, it also gives recommendations on how the sector can prepare and adapt, including lots of case studies from across the UK.

The report places emphasis on the idea of the older members of a community being an asset. It also points towards their being a possibility of a double dividend, with museums supporting age friendly communities to flourish through work with and for older people, and in turn being supported by their communities – reciprocal resilience.

(Photograph: Benedict Johnson. Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum)


Age Friendly Museums Network now has its own home online

Welcome to the Age Friendly Museums Network. This WordPress site will now be our home for sharing news, events, best practice and our Manifesto.

Hopefully you’ll find it simple and useful – do please let us know if you have any thoughts on the content, or if you would like to share your knowledge/experience here. We hope to build up a set of links to good practice, research and resources across the UK and beyond.