Room to Rise
The Lasting Impact of Intensive
Teen Programs in Art Museums

Explore findings from a groundbreaking research and evaluation initiative investigating the long-term impacts of museum programs for teens. Drawing on reflections and input from hundreds of program alumni across the United States, this study documents powerful effects on participants, including lasting engagement with arts and culture, significant personal and professional development, and increased leadership skills and civic engagement.

About the Study

Room to Rise is the result of a multi-year collaboration between the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Walker Art Center, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, with support from a National Leadership Grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. Each of the participating museums is home to a nationally recognized teen program that has operated continuously since the 1990s. These programs bring highly diverse urban youth together to work collaboratively with museum staff and artists, developing vibrant activities and events to engage teen audiences, from tours and exhibitions to performances and fashion shows. Lead Research Advisor Mary Ellen Munley and a network of critical friends and expert advisors guided this practitioner-driven research, which incorporates innovative arts-based methods. The study offers a detailed look at the lasting impact of these programs, and highlights key engagement strategies for educators.

Read the Full Report

Project Findings

Program participants reported that their experiences as teens in museums were transformational, shaping their adult lives in significant ways. This study traces a relationship between high impact engagement strategies, short-term outcomes, and long-lasting impacts for alumni, including:

  • Personal identity and self-knowledge
  • Lifelong relationship to museums and culture
  • Expanded career horizons
  • A worldview grounded in art
  • Community engagement and influence

Project Methods

The project team documented its process carefully in this supplement to Room to Rise, which presents detailed descriptions of study design decisions, instrument development, and data analysis procedures. 

Additional Materials

Find documents referenced in the technical supplement here:


Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC)

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
CAMH Teen Council

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
MOCA teen program

Contact Us

If you have comments or questions, please email


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website and associated publications do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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