Artist and seniors displaying their creations at Iona

Iona Gallery and Artist in Residence Program

Organization Associated with Program
IONA Senior Services
4125 Albemarle St., NW
Washington, 20016

Iona Senior Services began its gallery and artist in residence program to celebrate and honor professional older artists in the Washington, D.C. area and to increase community awareness of the benefits of creative activities on healthy aging. Three times a year, Iona invites two distinguished artists over the age of 60 to exhibit their work in its gallery and to lead hands-on workshops about their artistic process, inspiration, and medium for members of the public and older adults who participate in Iona’s Wellness & Arts Center. Since its founding in 2007, the program has showcased over 15 professional artists, welcomed over 1,000 people to the gallery for openings and events, and offered workshops in the arts. This has led to a deeper understanding in the community about how developing or discovering creative potential in later life can improve health and wellbeing, helping people age well and live well.

In conjunction with the gallery, Iona also offers arts-making workshops with the goal of engaging older adults in meaningful creative endeavors. Examples include a memoir writing workshop and Opera Gems, an appreciation class led by professionals in the field.

Program History

Since its founding in 1975, Iona Senior Services has supported people facing the challenges and opportunities of aging by educating, advocating, and providing community-based services and programs to help people age well and live well. Creative and community engagement is integral to Iona’s mission of creating a successful leadership role in the community. In 2006, with funding from the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, Iona hired a full-time art therapist in the Wellness & Arts Center, its award-winning adult day health program for people with memory loss and/or physical frailty. Art therapy has transformed the center and attracted the attention of other creative organizations in the city. The Wellness & Arts Center has since piloted a program in partnership with the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., using masterpieces on exhibit at the museum to inform and inspire the therapeutic work in the Iona studio. 

Program Assessments and Evaluations

Iona's gallery, artist in residence program, and art workshops are evaluated on an ongoing basis through the use of surveys filled out by staff and participants, attendance numbers, interviews, and press reviews.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Create sustainable and innovative partnerships with cultural and arts organizations in the community that draw on your organization’s strengths.

Kinds of creative engagement/ program focus Creation of Original Work, Exhibiting Artwork, Viewing Artwork, Attending a Performance, Participate in a Class, Participate in a Workshop, Participate in a Residency, Watch a Lecture/Demonstration
Arts Discipline: Literature, Music, Opera, Visual Arts
Interdisciplinary Connections: Civic Engagement, Education
Target Audience: Active Adults, Caregivers - Family, Caregivers - Professional, Frail Older Adults, Intergenerational, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design Hearing Disabilities, Visual Disabilities, Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities
Program Setting: Adult Day Care, Aging Organization (e.g. Senior Center), House of Worship / Religious Center, Social Service Agency
Program Service Area: Suburban, Urban
Type of Practice: Field Tested Best Practice