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What Do We Know About Doctor-Prescribed Museum Visits? (Eva Amsen,

From depression and concussion recovery to MS, arts have helped Mississauga residents take back their lives

Article by Eva Amsen, Published on on October 19, 2021.

“Doctors in Brussels are prescribing museum visits to their patients who are struggling with stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Museum therapy isn’t new and doctors in other places, such as Montreal, have also been prescribing visits to the local art museum as therapy. Not all programs are the same, though, but researchers have been studying whether these interventions are effective.”

“In 2018, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Médecins francophones du Canada started a program that let doctors prescribe their patients with a museum visit in addition to their other treatments. They got a special “prescription pad” with 50 sheets which they could give to any of their patients to get free access to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

“In June 2019, Fortune reported that participants in the Montreal program had at that point redeemed 185 of the prescriptions that had been handed out by doctors. But there doesn’t seem to have been a systematic report yet to summarize whether the system was deemed successful.

“However, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has taken part in several other health-related projects. One in particular, “Thursdays at the Museum”, has been formally documented in peer-reviewed scientific papers. In this project, 150 participants over the age of 65 took part in weekly interactive art activities at the museum. At several points during the course of the 12 weeks of the study, they answered a questionnaire about their well-being. Based on their answers, McGill University researchers determined that the art activities at the museum increased the overall mood and wellbeing of the people that took part.”

“Still, sending patients to a museum when they seem to need a distraction isn’t likely to harm them, even if it’s not clear whether it will work for everyone. As the vice-president of Médecins francophones du Canada, Hélène Boyer, said in an interview with CBC News at the launch of the museum prescription project in Montreal “It’s so rare in medicine that you prescribe something and you do not need to worry about all those side-effects (…).” So if you get offered a free visit to the museum by your doctor, take it and enjoy the art.”