Art has a healing power. It has a positive impact on people’s health, and benefits people not only in case of mental problems, as many believe, but also in case of physical problems.
Based on this conviction a partnership between the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Francophone Association of Doctors in Canada (Médecins francophones du Canada) is born. Together they have launched a project: associated doctors can prescribe their patients free visits to the museum as therapy.
It is a pilot project, which started last November and will last 1 year, during which the doctors members of the association will be able to issue up to 50 prescriptions that each guarantee a free visit to the museum for the patient and his/her family, 4 people in total (two of whom are boys/girls up to 17 years old)
The "neutral, beautiful, inspiring space" of a museum can boost mood, improve wellbeing, and give patients a chance to explore experiences and senses outside of their illness
«Appreciate art with loved ones is key to the cure», says Nathalie Bondil, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ director general, who explains: «The neutral, beautiful, inspiring space of a museum can boost mood, improve wellbeing, and give patients a chance to explore experiences and senses outside of their illness». Bondil explains that, if the initiative is successful, it can be replicated in other museums in the world.
«It’s been 20 years since the museum has been working with the medical community in art therapy projects, but it’s the first time that doctors can prescribe art visits as cure», explains Thomas Bastien, education director at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
It's so rare in medicine that you prescribe something and you do not need to worry about all those side-effects or interactions with other medication
The prescription of the visits to the museum as complementary therapy to traditional medical treatments is a revolution: the project in Montreal is the first such initiative in the world.
«It's so rare in medicine that you prescribe something and you do not need to worry about all those side-effects or interactions with other medication», says Hélène Boyer, vice-president of Médecins francophones du Canada. Doctor Boyer also explains that, among the various benefits of art, there is also the fact that «it can cause a release of hormones, that is otherwise difficult to attain for those with chronic pain who have trouble maintaining regular physical activity».
During the course of the year the doctors will verify if there are changes in the conditions of their patients, and at the end of the pilot project, in a year, they will write a report with their own conclusions.
Cover photo: Ioana Cristiana/Unsplash