I’ve recommended Gene D. Cohen’s book The Creative Age any number of times in these Ad Summa blogs, and one of the elements that makes the book so memorable is the continuing list in the margins of significant cultural contributions older people have made to their societies over time. Here are some of my favorite examples:
Imogen Cunningham, famous American photographer, still taught at the Art Institute of San Francisco at age 90.
Archibald MacLeish won the Pulitzer for drama at 67.
Mahatma Gandhi was 77 when he completed negotiations to grant India independence from Britain.
Michelangelo designed the dome of St. Peters at 88.
Albert Schweitzer received the Nobel Prize at 77.
Albert Einstein, at 74, was still “groping” with the meaning of relativity.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was, at 91, reading Plato. “Why?” asked FDR. “To improve my mind, Mr. President,” was his response.
Agatha Christie wrote until she was 86.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim Museum at 91.
Mary Baker Eddy founded the Christian Science Monitor at 87.
Geronimo dictated his biography at 77.
Sir Isaac Newton published his second edition of Principia at 84.
Katharine Graham, retired publisher of the Washington Post, wrote her first book at 79.
I.M. Pei designed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at 78.
Clara Barton continued as head of the American Red Cross until the age of 83.
Walt Disney saw his second Disney theme park, Disney World, constructed at age 65.
Robert Frost delivered “The Gift Outright” at President Kennedy’s Inauguration at age 87.
These, and many others cited in Cohen’s work, are not only inspirational examples of the contributions of older adults throughout history, but are also helpful encouragements to those of us with a passionate interest in creative aging.
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Mark Your Calendars: The American Alliance of Museums is holding a national convening on museums and creative aging at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta from November 5-6, 2020.
Our special issue of AAM’s bi-monthly Museum magazine is coming October 2020.
Also, we are seeking guest bloggers who would like to share their thoughts and experiences in creative aging efforts. Just let me know if you have something you would like to contribute. It could be anything relevant: an upcoming conference, a program you have developed, a perspective you would like to share, etc. We are greatly enjoying the conversations these blogs are engendering!