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Art Museum Experiences of Older Adults

Title: Art Museum Experiences of Older Adults.
Name(s): Thongnopnua, Sitthiporn, author
Villeneuve, Pat, professor directing dissertation
Barrett, Anne E., university representative
Gussak, David, committee member
Van Lith, Theresa, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Fine Arts, degree granting college
Department of Art Education, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2015
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (312 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This study was an exploration into how seniors who participate in art workshops at the senior center experienced and made sense of their art museum visitations. In light of the rapidly increasing aging population in most countries around the world and the corollary notion that their well-being would be a global benchmark for civilized living (Kinsella & Phillips, 2005), the arts and creativity have been gaining momentum as a model for healthy and purposeful aging (Cohen, 2000, 2001; Hanna, 2013; Hanna & Perlstein, 2008). Despite the efforts to make art museums accessible to senior citizens, little empirical evidence and literature can be found that address the museum experiences of older adults, especially those who are considered to be receptive to visiting art museums, based on characteristics of the art exhibition. This study fills that critical gap through the use of phenomenological research methods that incorporate observations, in-depth interviews, a focus group, and document analysis techniques. The research site was selected by conducting evaluations using Serrell's (2006) Framework for Assessing Excellence in Exhibitions from a Visitor-Centered Perspective to identify characteristics of six art exhibitions. The exhibition chosen was rated excellent regarding its levels of achievement for all criteria: comfortable, engaging, reinforcing, and meaningful. The museum fieldtrip was set up to take participants to see the selected art exhibition. The fieldwork contributed a comprehensive perspective of not only experience but also motivation and reflection dimensions of the museum visitation that seniors constructed through the dynamic interaction of personal, sociocultural, and physical contexts. The data from the observation field notes, transcriptions of in-depth interviews and the focus group, and document review were analyzed by using phenomenology data analysis methods and emerging themes were presented in the form of composite descriptions. The results of the data analysis showed that participants were infused by a spirit of inquiry and had a need for being social. Older age-related needs and life-learned wisdom played a key part in shaping seniors' museum experiences emotionally and intellectually. The essence and shared meaning of this group of seniors' art museum visitation experiences culminated in seven key findings: seniors perceived themselves as curiosity-driven museum visitors with older age-related needs and values; sociocultural circumstances played a key part in seniors' art museum visit motivations; seniors constructed their museum experiences on their interests in art with a touch of life-learned wisdom; not only physical but also communication and attitude accessibilities are crucial to older museum visitors; seniors preferred personal interactions in order to maintain social connections; sociable experiences made seniors' meaningful museum experiences memorable; and the art museum visitation cultivated seniors' senses of purpose in terms of staying creative. To make contributions to the current paradigm for creative aging, the findings put forward knowledge that conveys practical ways for art museums and senior centers to work together on making arts and creativity services. These services can dynamically play an important role in building an effective ecosystem of leisure activities for promoting active lifestyles and social well-being among senior citizens. The findings of this study were used to develop seven recommendations that revolve around how art museums and senior centers can foster older visitors' meaningful and memorable museum experiences and collaborate on constructing and sustaining a full cycle of arts experiences and creativity engagement, from passive observation to active participation, not only in but also across communities.
Identifier: FSU_2016SP_Thongnopnua_fsu_0071E_12956 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Art Education in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester 2015.
Date of Defense: December 2, 2015.
Keywords: art museum, arts participation, creative aging, exhibition evaluation, museum education, museum experience
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Pat Villeneuve, Professor Directing Dissertation; Anne Barrett, University Representative; David Gussak, Committee Member; Theresa Van Lith, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Art -- Study and teaching
Study and teaching
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Thongnopnua, S. (2015). Art Museum Experiences of Older Adults. Retrieved from