Museums & Wellbeing

Culture White Paper, DCMS, 2016 – describes the contemporary policy landscape in relation to public support for museums, art and culture.

The UK’s Ageing Population: Challenges and opportunities for museums and galleries – comprehensive report on the impact of demographic ageing on the museum and gallery sector.

An exclusive look at Creative Wellbeing and Volunteering Projects at the Gustav Holst Museum– An article devoted to the work of Gustav Holst Museum around volunteering and wellbeing.

Art Therapists in Museums and Galleries – A sample of art therapy work in museums and galleries.

A review of research and literature on museums and libraries –  Comprehensive review on the needs, resources and future of the sector.

Conversation Clubs – An example of successful partnership formulation, based on the concept of encouraging older people to get together for a good conversation.

Harnessing the power of the arts, culture and heritage to promote social justice in Wales – Reports on the ways in which culture and heritage can actively make a change in society. Scroll down at the bottom of the article for a full list of reports.

History to health: Research into changing health agendas for the UK Medical Collections Group (2012), Alison Bodley – The UKMCG set up the History to Health project in spring 2012. It builds on previous work that showed how medical museums can successfully engage with a wide range of people and make a positive contribution to health and wellbeing.

How museums and galleries can enhance health and wellbeing – A collection of case studies and good practice in museums, galleries, health and wellbeing.

“I didn’t know I could”, MaCLA – An initiative of various museums throughout England, to support children and young people looked after.

Inspiring Futures: Volunteering for Wellbeing – 2017 report on the wellbeing benefits of a project that engaged community members as volunteers across a number of Manchester heritage sites.

Manchester City Council: Embedding arts and culture in the city wide approach to complex dependency – A case study of how art and culture become a vital part of society.

Manifesto for Age Friendly Museums – What the ideal Age Friendly museum should be like.

Mind, body, spirit: How museums impact health and wellbeing – A report on a year-long research project that sets out to exhibit how museums can utilise their collections and all other resources to promote health and inclusion.

Mental health and heritage: Working in partnership – Surrey, East and West Sussex (SEWS) Mental Health Project (2008-2011), funded by Renaissance East. A collaboration of four museums. This report covers the last phase of the project.

Museums Association Journal-Therapeutic Museums – An issue devoted to Museums and Wellbeing.

Museum in a Box – programme at Kirklees Museums and Galleries which provides support to older people and particularly those living with dementia and memory problems.

Museum Volunteer Programme – is a stage two report focussing on new Volunteer roles, launched in the last two years at Kirklees Museums and Galleries. You can view the year one report here.

No Longer Us and Them – A 2016 Paul Hamlyn Foundation report with a focus on the organisational changes required to facilitate community participation in museums.

Reawakening the mind – Evaluation of Arts 4 Dementia’s London Arts Challenge: Arts interventions to re-energise and inspire people in the early stages of dementia and their carers.

Research to understand the resilience, and challenges to this, of Local Authority museums – ACE commissioned this research project so that challenges that local authority museums face are examined and an understanding is established on the museums’ resilience in coming years, in relation to funding cuts.

The Journeys of Appreciation Programme (JOAP): Museums and gallery partnerships with NHS inpatient clinical services for older adults with mental health problems and dementia (2015), Helen Shearn – in-depth case study of JOAP, programme engaging older adult in-­patients with mental health problems and dementia at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust with museum partners The Cinema Museum, Dulwich Picture Gallery, Horniman Museum & Gardens, Tate Modern and Tate Britain.

The social and economic benefits of marine and maritime cultural heritage – This report covers a variety of subjects around maritime heritage, including wellbeing.

Who cares? Museums, health and wellbeing research project (2011) – Final report of the Renaissance North West project, a series of inventive projects across six museums looking at how access to museum activities might affect health and wellbeing. For a summary, click here.

Arts & Wellbeing (including social prescribing)

How can arts and culture improve our public services? (2016) New Economics Foundation

Ageing Artfully: Older professional participatory arts in the UK

A prospectus for arts & health (2007)

Arts, health and wellbeing beyond the millenium: How far have we come and where do we want to go? (2013)

Arts and music in healthcare: An overview of the medical literature (2004-2011)

Arts in health: A review of the medical literature (2004)

Arts on Prescription: Arts-based social prescribing for better
mental wellbeing

Artworks I like: Exploring artwork preferences with autistic people

Evidence to inform clinical commissioning for social prescribing

Social prescribing: A review of community referral schemes

Social Prescribing at a Glance – A 2016 NHS scoping report focused on the North West, which provides a clear overview of the national landscape for social prescribing.

Social Prescribing Network – A network of practitioners, academics, health professionals, researchers and others, sharing developments and best practice in the area of social prescribing.

Report of the review of Arts and Health Working Group (by the Department of Health)

The Cultural Prescription Conference – In a time of change, how can the Arts support the Health and Wellbeing agenda? In November 2015 Museum Development Yorkshire hosted ‘The Cultural Prescription’, which combined expert overview with practical activities. All the presentations from the event are now available to view on our website. Find out more about how museums and galleries are successfully working with people with dementia, those with long-term health conditions and people with mental health problems. The day included best practice examples from York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Leeds Museums and Galleries and Yorkshire Sculpture Park. There was also a particular focus on identifying and understanding funding opportunities- looking at Cultural Commissioning and Grants for the Arts, from both the funder and artist’s perspective. View all the presentations here.

The value of arts and culture to people and society – an evidence review


Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) funding – A comprehensive report that will support a more in-depth understanding on funding structures within CCGs.

Cultural Manifesto for Wellbeing – An inspiring manifesto, produced by Halton CCG in 2017,  for a health service founded on values of equality, community and co-creation.

Evidence to inform clinical commissioning for social prescribing – A short report on the benefits of social prescribing that will, in turn, support the case for commissioning such programmes.

Adding years to life and life to years – An article on the importance of artistic and creative activity for wellbeing and its role to working through the commissioning process.


A guide to community-based approaches for health and wellbeing – Public Health England report (2015), ‘The assets within communities are building blocks for good health’

Asset based approaches for health improvement: Redressing the balance – The increasingly popular asset-based as it is applied in health, explained by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.

5 ways to wellbeing – An increasingly popular way into approaching matters of health and wellbeing, used by a variety of organisations. The Alliance have created a document Exploring wellbeing in every day museum practice which can help to embed this model into your organisation.

Fair Society Healthy Lives (The Marmot Review) – In 2008, Professor Sir Michael Marmot was asked by the then Secretary of State for Health to chair an independent review to propose the most effective evidence-based strategies for reducing health inequalities in England from 2010. The final report was published in February 2010.

Health & Care Act 2012 – Detailed report on the most extensive re-organisation of NHS England, to date.

Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Our Strategy for Public Health in England – The response to the Marmot Review (see above).

More than medicine: New services for people-powered health – Learning products
explaining why People Powered Health works, what it looks like and the key features needed to replicate success elsewhere. Useful information on social prescribing/

Natural Health Service – Resources from a consortium exploring the natural environment as a key resource for health and wellbeing.

NHS Forest – Reports collected by a project coordinated by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, exploring the value of green healthcare for the NHS.

No health without mental health – A cross-government mental health outcomes strategy for people of all ages

RSPH Reports and Publications – A number of useful reports on public health, by the Royal Society for Public Health.

What Works Wellbeing – A repository of high quality evidence on wellbeing from diverse research projects funded by the Economic & Social Research Council.

Wheel of Wellbeing – A website that offers insight to achieving wellbeing; a possible source of inspiration for museums looking to develop projects on health and wellbeing.