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Something new for a change

Discovering leisure time in retirement

Created date

December 23rd, 2013
woman sitting outside

Among the members of Riderwood’s resident-run arts committee is one former Washington, D.C., art professional with an exceptionally impressive resume. Andrea Nicolls was the curator at the National Museum of African Art, one of the Smithsonian Institute museums. 

Originally from New York, Andrea moved to Indiana in the 1970s to complete her doctorate degree in African art history at Indiana University.

“I did field work for my dissertation in Nigeria,” Andrea says. “At that time, pottery wasn’t really studied very much, so I decided I would focus on that.”

Andrea returned from Nigeria in 1982 and spent some time documenting her research about African pottery. In 1984, she accepted a job at the National Museum of African Art, where she worked for more than 20 years. After retiring from her job as a curator in 2006, Andrea taught African art at George Mason University.

“I just stopped teaching this year, so now I get some time to relax,” she says. “I don’t have any big projects planned, and that is okay with me.”

Quiet retreat and active social life

Fortunately, Andrea is in an ideal place to enjoy her retirement. A little more than two years ago, she moved from an apartment in Washington, D.C., to Riderwood, an Erickson Living community in Silver Spring, Md.

“I had relatives who moved to Oak Crest [an Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md.], and they told me maybe I should look into moving to an Erickson Living community,” Andrea says. “I started going to the different Riderwood events and I liked the community, so I moved here.”

Andrea says she didn’t want or need a lot of space, so she chose a studio-style apartment home. Her cozy home provides a peaceful place to relax and unwind.

“My studio is very simple, which suits me fine,” she says. “I don’t need a lot of space for me and my books and my TV.”

While Andrea enjoys quiet and solitude, she says she appreciates the fact that just outside her door are thousands of neighbors, hundreds of clubs and committees, and an action-packed schedule of special events—which she can take advantage of whenever she feels like socializing.

“One big reason to be here is that there are so many different kinds of activities for different kinds of people,” Andrea says. “I like lectures and that kind of thing, and there are plenty of those. It’s quite varied.”

Diverse community

As a member of the arts committee, Andrea has also been able to connect with many other kinds of people who have always surrounded her—accomplished artists and other retired art world professionals like former gallery owners. Recently, the arts committee at



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