Carnegie Museum of Art’s ‘Mindful Museum’ programs target older visitors

Sometimes inspiration comes from unlikely sources.

For Lucy Stewart, associate curator of education at the Carnegie Museum of Art, walking through the galleries sparked an idea for one of the facility’s new “Mindful Museum” offerings, a suite of accessible programs and activities that enhance the museum as a destination to nurtures mind, body, and soul for visitors over 55.

“I realized that if I go through the galleries and walk up and down the steps twice, I’ve walked half a mile,” Stewart said.

That opportunity for exercise will be incorporated into “Art Paths,” in which visitors can count steps while perusing the galleries.

The suite of Mindful Museum programs, beginning in May and running through December, will provide participants with unlimited access to early Wednesday morning programming, including art paths and meditation stops throughout the museum, along with drawing, chair yoga, art history classes, social gatherings and digital offerings.

“We feel that a museum of art should be actively engaged with our senior population as a resource for health and wellness,” Stewart said. “As we get older, we feel the same in our minds as we did when we were younger, and we have the same desire to be active and to engage with other people.

“Socialization is so important,” she said. “We’re thinking holistically about ways to meet intellectual, social and physical needs to reduce loneliness among our senior populations in ways that help stave off some of the effects of aging.”

Mindful Museum programs include:

• Art Paths, all day Wednesdays, May 4-Dec. 28 — Art paths with step counts, distance markers, and art stops are designed for optimum movement and thinking. Walkers can listen to meditation prompts on their phones or chat with a docent about the art on view. Rest areas will be available.

• Drop In Drawing, 9:30-11 am, first and third Wednesdays of the month — Learn to draw or sharpen drawing techniques. Using different works of art and gallery spaces, sessions will explore a range of drawing styles, techniques and terms including gesture drawing, contour, shading, perspective, chiaroscuro, and more. Materials are included and personal sketchbooks are welcome, but pencils only can be used in the galleries.

• Chair and wheelchair yoga, 9:30-10:10 am second and fourth Wednesdays of the month — Sessions will begin by delving into a work of art from the collection. Then, the instructor will lead movement inspired by the work of art. Learn gentle seated exercises, standing poses that use the chair for balance and support and breathing and relaxation techniques. This class is accessible to participants of all levels and abilities, and various modifications will be offered. Unlimited access to past and future recordings of chair yoga and wheelchair online yoga sessions is included.

• Crash Course Art History Classes, 11:30 am-1 pm, dates vary by month — The museum’s wide-ranging collection serves as the cornerstone for topics across time periods, art movements, artists, cultures, styles, materials and meaning. Explore avant-garde Impressionism, artistic photographs, Japanese prints and the art and artists of today in the 58th Carnegie International opening Sept. 24. The package includes special tours and unlimited access to past and future recordings of Crash Course.

Registration fee is $80, or $50 for museum members. Scholarships are available.

The Carnegie Museum of Art is located at 4400 Forbes Ave. in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.

For more information and registration, call 412-622-3131, email programregistration@carnegiemuseums.org or visit cmoa.org.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune Review staff writer. You can contact Shirley at 724-836-5750, smcmarlin@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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