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Focus On: Health & Wellbeing

Each month we’re taking a look at one of the ten priority areas of the strategy for Scotland’s museums and galleries.

Warm spaces and winter blues: with the days getting shorter, it’s a good time of year to think about the health and wellbeing priorities of the strategy.

This newsletter highlights resources which will help you and your museum or gallery make progress in this area.

An adult with long blonde hair and their back turned to the camera looks out from a first-floor balcony inside a long hall. The hall has a pointed wooden roof supported by slender white metal pillars.

What is the health & wellbeing priority area?

Museums and galleries will improve quality of life through programmes which have a positive impact on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of people in Scotland.

There’s already lots of great work happening in this area. Museums and galleries are holding reminiscence sessions for people with dementia, creating mindfulness tours, encouraging physical exercise, and tackling social isolation in their communities.

You can read the health and wellbeing priority area and actions in full on our strategy hub.

Find out how your museum or gallery can achieve the health and wellbeing aims of the strategy by exploring the resources, events, and information below.

In 2020, we published a literature review and report on the impact that museums have on health and wellbeing.

It highlights research such as Art Fund’s Calm and Collected report – which found that 63% of UK adults have visited museums or galleries to deal with stress and anxiety – and a 2018 study on social prescribing, which concluded that museum programming can be instrumental in improving the psychological wellbeing of older adults.

An adult with medium-dark skin and an adult with dark skin smile and look at a bright yellow display panel at David Livingstone Birthplace. The adult with medium-dark skin points at information on the display panel.

Health & wellbeing resources

Health & wellbeing case studies

This page includes new case studies on the community impact of wellbeing events at V&A Dundee and the mental health benefits of the THRIVE volunteering project at Abbotsford.

Museums Association case studies

The Museums Association website features lots of great case studies on health and wellbeing.

Culture and Wellbeing Community Network Scotland

This group, which is open to cultural organisations from across Scotland, seeks to tackle social inequality through access to culture.

Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance

This network shares case studies, news, and articles from across the UK.

Five ways museums can improve health and wellbeing

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has shared this article on how museums can use their projects to promote five different aspects of wellbeing: connection, fitness, mindfulness, learning, and giving back.

Social prescribing

Social prescribing is the practice of being referred to a range of non-clinical services by a health professional. These services can include events and activities at museums and galleries.

Social prescribing is increasingly valued in holistic approaches to health and wellbeing. It can help museums to unlock new partnerships with healthcare providers, demonstrate their community impact, and contribute towards public health objectives.

You can find out more by visiting the Scottish Social Prescribing Network website and reading this social prescribing case study from the University of Edinburgh Museums.

An adult in a cap looks out through a large window at Aberdeen Maritime Museum. Around them are cases filled with model boats.
Are you connected to local healthcare providers?

Linking up with charities, community groups, and NHS services can lead to mutually beneficial opportunities for engagement, education, and exhibitions.

Are you measuring the social impact of your health and wellbeing activity?

Collecting evidence will make it easier for you to demonstrate the value of your work. Find out how to measure and evaluate your social impact with these guides from National Museums Scotland and the Museums Association.

Can any outdoor spaces at your museum or gallery be used for health and wellbeing activities?

Community gardens, play areas, and outdoor interactives can all improve the mental and physical health of your visitors.

MGS funding

The health and wellbeing aims of Scotland’s museums and galleries strategy are reflected in our grants outcomes and expectations.

Funding applications must address one or more of our grants outcomes depending on the requirements of the fund. Projects may include a commitment to develop health and wellbeing programming.

Visit our funding section to read our grants outcomes and expectations in full.

A child with light skin and blonde hair tied into a ponytail uses an orange marker to draw on a wall-mounted board.

Find out more

Working to achieve the health and wellbeing aims of Scotland’s museums and galleries strategy might also lead to progress on areas such as education, collaboration, and inclusion.

Our next edition will take a look at the diversity priority area of the strategy. If you have any resources, case studies, or questions relating to the health and wellbeing or diversity priority areas, please get in touch.

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