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Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to Launch Art-Making Storytelling Workshops for Older Adults
Person leading a tour for four guests at MCASD

Minneapolis-based E.A. Michelson Philanthropy awarded MCASD $250,000 to produce art-making storytelling workshops for adults 55 +

(Wednesday, February 15 – SAN DIEGO) – The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego received a generous $250,000 E.A. Michelson Philanthropy grant in support of an extensive series of art-related workshops and programs to serve older adults. More than $3 million in new grants to 16 art museums across the United States were awarded, a continuation of Michelson’s investment in programs that are an essential part of addressing the needs of the coming demographic wave of older Americans. MCASD is the only Californian museum to receive the grant.

Titled Reflections: An art-making storytelling workshop by MCASD, the workshops for older adults will launch at MCASD in May 2023 and will be continue in 2024.

These art-making and looking classes recognize the many benefits—social, emotional, and physical—of engaging older adults in the process of artistic creation.

San Diego’s demographics, like much of the country and world, are shifting significantly. By 2030, one million San Diego residents will be 55 and older and one in four San Diegans will be over the age of 65, according to 2018’s Age Well San Diego Action Plan. Additionally, according to the San Diego Seniors Community Foundation, one in three adults aged 65 and older live alone and approximately 180,000 older adults without parents do not have family close by and have little or no support system.

“At MCASD, we facilitate learning experiences through intergenerational programs that inspire creative thinking for all,” said Karla Centeno, Director of Education and Engagement, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. “We are grateful to the E.A. Michelson Philanthropy for supporting the Museum to provide older adults in San Diego with the opportunities to access a different realm of thinking, skill, and self-exploration that stimulates the imagination through contemporary art.”

MCASD’s multi-pronged project will include:

  • A series of art-making workshops and conversations for adults aged 55 + beginning this Spring
  • Dr. Khai Nguyen, a Geriatric Medicine Specialist, UCSD and MCASD’s Centeno will co-develop Age Awareness and training workshops for the entire MCASD board and staff. Internal anti-ageism work will be an extension of the Museum’s already robust Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility work.
  • The publication and distribution of a “Best Communications Practices” at the conclusion of the program in collaboration with partners at UCSD. Dr. Nguyen will contribute his deep expertise in the medical aspects of aging and the body, age-friendly environments and systems, while Centeno and her team will bring their expert knowledge and practical experience in engagement strategies, knowledge of the collection, and development of arts education programs.

THE WORKSHOPS- Reflections: An art-making storytelling workshop by MCASD

The hands-on workshops and lectures will be built on the overarching theme of storytelling. Each session will begin with the group exploring two to three artworks currently on display from MCASD’s collection of 5,600 contemporary artworks. 20 to 30 people will be accommodated in each workshop. The series will explore a variety of themes related to personal histories? and identity.

The conversations around the artworks in MCASD’s collection will offer stimulating input and prompts for participants as they think about creating their own artworks. Participants will also have the opportunity to explore contemporary art, storytelling, and various art-making media. The workshops will provide a forum for self-expression, and developing new interpersonal connections. Refreshments and time for social interaction will take place in Museum venues that take full advantage of the beautiful oceanside location and views. Transportation will be provided, if required.


“Our collective belief system has evolved to prioritize the interests of youth and younger adults and to under-value and overlook older adults,” said Ellen Michelson, founder and president of E.A. Michelson Philanthropy. “The creative aging programs we help to develop and implement are rooted in a recognition that older adults across all races, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic groups deserve to be acknowledged as vibrant and contributing members of the American population, who both need and deserve creative, educational outlets and the opportunity to build and maintain their social networks.”

“Addressing ageism is our duty and gift to older generations and to ourselves,” explained program partner Khai Nguyen, MD, MHS, UCSD Associate Professor in Geriatrics. “It is not only about addressing myths and stereotypes about aging and older persons, but promoting and diligently working towards age-friendly and welcoming communities. Together, we are forging bonds and forces in academia and the community with an innovative organization such as MCASD to accomplish a task that is not only imperative but innovative and inspiring. “



The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the region’s foremost forum devoted to the exploration and presentation of the art of today. Open since 1941, we welcome all audiences to reflect on their lives, communities, and the ever-changing world through the powerful prism of contemporary art. Between two MCASD locations — one in the heart of downtown San Diego and the other in the coastal community of La Jolla — we showcase an internationally-recognized collection. MCASD’s dynamic exhibition schedule features a vast array of media in an unprecedented variety of spaces, along with a growing dedication to community experiences and public programs. As a cultural hub, MCASD seeks to catalyze conversation in our region.


MCASD, 700 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037


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TR/PR | ​​Toni Robin, 858-483-3918

Top: Photo: Daniel Lang for MCASD