In recent years there has been a considerable increase in museum programmes to improve health and wellbeing. The National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing produced a report that describes the wealth of activity around health, wellbeing and social care that museums and galleries are already offering across the UK.
The report provides a context and is a good read for relevant professionals and new researchers in this area of work to introduce themselves to a range of areas in which museums can be of use to meet health and well-being outcomes. Examples include Nottingham’s Galleries of Justice working to incorporate offenders in the museum itself by offering work placements in its shop and café1 and Pallant House Gallery’s charity Outside In2, which offers mentoring, training and a professional platform exclusively to disabled or marginalised artists.
While acknowledging the vitality of this growing field of research which seeks to understand and evaluate the benefits of museum activities for individual and societal health and wellbeing, I cannot resist to point at the strong language of the medical model of disability reproduced in the report (SEN terminology for instance). Heath and wellbeing are public goods to concern everyone in our societies. I would advise future readers to get familiar with the models of disability prior to applying existing frameworks or practices to cultural learning, skills development and social enrichement of social and community groups in their museums, galleries or heritage sites.
You can download the report here.