This project explores the cultivation of an ever deepening relationship between young adult audiences (ages 21-40) and museums and cultural institutions through the use of special event programming. Museums are turning to after-hours events to capture this audience’s attention, developing them as a mode of communication to solidify connections between the institution and young adults. Drawing on Ray Oldenburg’s construct of a “Third Place,” developed in his psychological study focused on the comfort of individuals in physical spaces, I investigate how several museums in the Rochester, New York, area are pursuing young adult audiences by creating social and engaging spaces within their museums. Through the use of observation, survey questionnaires, and research into adult programming, I evaluate current approaches undertaken by museums hosting these events and determine trends that correlate and compare to the larger trend of after-hours events in cultural institutions. The millennial generation is an increasingly significant segment of the population that desires cultural immersion and socializing in their day-to-day lives. It is for this reason that museums should seriously consider this audience’s desires and cater to their needs in order to solidify their support in the future. At the same time, museums must abide by standards for ethical behavior during such occasions; therefore, this research will be a guide to interpret the trends and practices implemented at after-hours events.
Museum Studies (BS)
Department, Program, or Center
Department of Performing Arts and Visual Culture (CLA)
Barber, Hannah E., "The Power of After-Hours: Young Adult Engagement and Programming in Museums" (2017). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus