Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG)

Museums, health and wellbeing in the East Midlands

The project

Museums, Health and Wellbeing was an action research project focused around the creation of a Network of museums and health / social care partners  in the East Midlands region of England to explore the contribution museums can make to the health and wellbeing of their communities. The project was funded by Arts Council England.

The Network

The Network brought people together from different museum contexts in collaboration with partners from public health, adult social care and a Hospital School to explore how museums can support the health and wellbeing of their communities and develop projects which would contribute to health and wellbeing agendas.

The five museums were:

  • Crich Tramway Village & Museum, Derbyshire
  • New Walk Museum, Leicester
  • The Cottage Museum, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire
  • Kettering Museum, Northamptonshire
  • Nottingham City Museums and Galleries

The three project strands developed by the Network were:

  • Encountering the Unexpected: reaching older people in Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Derbyshire (Crich Tramway Village, The Cottage Museum and Kettering Museum)
  • Live Today, Think Tomorrow: tackling smoking prevalence in Nottingham (Nottingham City Museums and Galleries)
  • Body, Mind, Spirit: museum collections and hospital schools creating on line learning platform for hospital schools (The Children's Hospital School Leicester and New Walk Museum). The Body, Mind, Spirit website was created by this project which allows children and students in hospital schools and others to upload their objects and see them on display creating a real sense of ownership

Key findings

The project demonstrates the exciting potential within all museums, whatever their size and capacity, to positively impact issues and agendas beyond the cultural sector by gathering robust evidence of the impact of projects, and focusing on user groups and participants. The Publication Mind, Body, Spirit: How museums impact wellbeing presents a compelling account of the unique role that museums can play in contributing to healthier communities:

  • Collections are at the core of health and wellbeing work and can be used in many ways - to encourage positive wellbeing, address health issues and promote health and wellbeing
  • Health and wellbeing needs to start with the needs of communities
  • The Five Ways to Wellbeing provide a credible and useful framework for museums to plan and develop programmes around health and wellbeing
  • It is vitally important to capture and evidence the impact of health and wellbeing programmes and projects in museums

Research report

Mind, Body, Spirit: How Museums Impact Health and Wellbeing (PDF, 5,845KB)

Body, Mind and Spirit website

The website Body, Mind and Spirit is for hospital schools.The website has a public domain allowing anyone access to the artefacts contained in the museum ‘store’ and the museum ‘basement’. However, uniquely, there is also a restricted ‘teacher area’ where, once registered, teachers and pupils can add and edit artefacts and labels to add to a growing database of artefacts interpreted using the Body, Mind, and Spirit framework.


The RCMG event 'Mind, Body, Spirit: How Museums Impact Health and Wellbeing' was held on Wednesday 24 September at the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester.

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