Introducing Museums and Wellbeing
By Maria Patsou, on 22 October 2015
Hallo! My name is Maria and I am the research assistant for the National Alliance of Museums, Health and Wellbeing based at UCL PACE. Funded by Arts Council England, we’ve launched the Alliance so that information about museums and health can be shared and to provide support for those individuals and organisations working in this area of activity. My main role is to map existing practice, literature, reports and evaluation on health & wellbeing activities in the museum sector in the UK. I also carry out research into health and social care structures and identify key contacts for museum people. I am having an amazing time in this role as I get to work on the wider categories of arts, culture and health, which I have been specialising on for the past few years, through clinical and academic work.
Late September was very exciting for museums and wellbeing. I participated in a Horniman Museum training on the use of museum objects for creativity and learning. While going through the Hands-on Base gallery, I accidentally bumped into a Greek Orthodox priest miniature (Picture 1).
There was something about the tradition and my heritage represented in this tiny priest -plus having just returned from my annual Greek summer holidays- that drew me to that object and turned that particularly typical British rainy day into a fun trip down childhood memories. Additionally, I have an arts-in-health background and less experience of museum activities, so having the opportunity to pick an object that has significance to me and going through the various galleries at the Horniman to find matching objects, gave me a chance to contemplate the strong links that all cultures have.
But the training was just one of the many exciting events. On the 23rd of September, I attended a riveting GEM (Group for Education in Museums) event at UCL Art Museum, on museums and their role in social agendas (Picture 2), and had a rare chance to listen to the personal experience of a participant in a museum activity on a culture and wellbeing project at the Islington Museum. On the 28th I was in beautiful Horsham (a town that manages to encompass a gallery, a conservatory café, a theatre and a museum in a 15-minute walk from the train station to the town centre) to give a presentation at the South-East museums’ Learning Liaison Forum and discuss the work we do at the Alliance, plus get some useful feedback from the museums involved, about how we can best support their learning and outreach offer. Looking forward to the next few weeks of museum and wellbeing-filled events!
Maria Patsou is the Research Assistant for the National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing, at UCL PACE.