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  • 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.

    My object at the Horniman Museum. A tiny Greek Orthodox priest.

    My object at the Horniman Museum. A tiny Greek Orthodox priest.

    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).

    (more…)

    Please can I see the Fossil Lady?

    By Celine West, on 19 August 2015

    This is a guest blog written by Alison South, volunteer for UCL Museums.

    The dayroom on Ward 12 at UCH (University College Hospital) is bright and spacious with views west along the busy Euston Road. Here patients at the Teenage Cancer Trust Unit relax with their families and friends, putting aside illness, treatments, sickness and drugs for a while, chatting or enjoying a game or other activity. Over the last year I’ve become a regular visitor, bringing with me a bag of museum objects from the Touching Heritage handling collection at UCL Museums.

    I vary my choice of 8-10 objects each week, but always include some fossils and rocks from the Geology collections, natural history specimens and Ancient Egyptian artefacts. Some on the ward refer to me as the ‘fossil lady’ or the ‘museum lady’ – I prefer to think of myself as a sort of therapeutic ‘bag lady’ holding tight my precious possessions. (more…)

    Touching Heritage

    By Nicholas Vogelpoel, on 22 October 2012

    Volunteers in the ‘Touching Heritage’ programme, funded by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant have been taking objects from across UCL’s museums and collections to people in hospitals, care homes and other community health settings for the past couple of months, and facilitating object-handling sessions with participants who would otherwise be excluded from visiting museums.

    Patient in object-handling session

    The programme is unique not only because of its intentions to actively engage excluded communities in cultural activity, but because it offers volunteers the opportunity to become the facilitators of heritage-in-health sessions. The benefits of object-handling and the potential for improved experiences of health and wellbeing through cultural engagement for participants have been a priority of the heritage-in-healthcare research team at UCL for a number of years. Researchers have found that the kinaesthetic and tactile properties of the objects have the potential to influence and improve experiences of health and wellbeing for participants of a session. (more…)

    Call for volunteers: Touching Heritage

    By Nicholas Vogelpoel, on 6 August 2012

    If you are someone who is passionate about heritage, interested in health and wellbeing, and keen to volunteer in an innovative heritage-in-health project – we want to hear from you!
    Patient in object-handling session © UCL Museums and Public Engagement

    UCL Museums and Public Engagement is looking for a new group of volunteers to take part in the Touching Heritage project, supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The new programme aims to widen participation in cultural activities by taking museum objects out to hospitals and other healthcare communities that would otherwise be excluded from museum activities (e.g., residential care homes). One-to-one and group sessions led by facilitators will focus on the cultural, social and natural diversity of the objects in relation to participants’ own health and wellbeing. The experience will be enhanced by touching and handling objects traditionally associated with health and wellbeing, and by discussing how the objects feel, what they are made of or whether they resonate in other ways with participants.

    We are currently seeking volunteers to train as facilitators of museum object handling sessions, and then to co-ordinate object handling sessions in hospitals, care homes and other healthcare environments as part of the project. (more…)

    Prestigious award for UCL Museums & Collections

    By Linda Thomson, on 4 October 2011

    A team of researchers from UCL Museums & Collections has just been awarded a Certificate of Commendation by the Royal Society for Public Health Arts and Health Awards Committee for their ‘Heritage in Hospitals’ project. The award was made in recognition of the excellent and ground-breaking character of the research, and the valuable outcomes for participants. The Committee was particularly impressed by the range and quality of publications arising from this work.

    This innovative programme was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and carried out in conjunction with University College London Hospitals (UCLH) Arts programme. In facilitated sessions lasting around 40 minutes, patients were invited to handle and discuss a selection of museum objects with a view to assessing the impact of this activity on health and wellbeing. If you have any comments or thoughts about this research please get in touch with the project team – we’d love to hear from you.

    For more information about the ‘Heritage in Hospitals’ project go to: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/research/touch/wellbeing

    Or email:

    Dr Helen Chatterjee, Project Leader: h.chatterjee@ucl.ac.uk

    Dr Linda Thomson, Lead Researcher: linda.thomson@ucl.ac.uk