I read a fascinating article about doctors in Belgium prescribing a museum visit as one component to treating mental illness. Studies indicate that art can lower anxiety and depression, as well as improve critical thinking skills. So in this pilot program, patients are prescribed a free pass to a museum or gallery, which is used in tandem with traditional treatments, including therapy and medication. This was the first I'd heard of museums as medical treatment, but it turns out that Canada is the pioneer. The city of Montreal was the first in the world to offer museum visits as a prescription for treatment. Recipients include not only those with mental health issues, but people with a wide variety of physical concerns, such as epilepsy, Alzheimer's, and cancer. (More props to Canada - their doctors can also prescribe free passes to national parks.)
I love this idea.
I'm a big fan of museums and we visit them often. I went back to see how many museums I have visited so far in 2022. Any guesses? Here are photos from four of my favorite museums of the year to look at while you guess. You can click on each photo to read about the museum.
This is just a small sampling of the great museums we've seen in 2022. There are so many other good ones. So what's the grand total? I've been to 35 different museums in the last 10 months. That includes two in South Carolina, five in North Carolina, four in California that I blogged about here and here, six in Washington, three in Alaska, eight in Minnesota, and six in Wisconsin.
While few of these are strictly art museums, every museum has art on display. In fact, the well-designed displays are in themselves art. Some of my favorite museums are immersive, taking you temporarily out of your everyday life (and your problems) and transporting you somewhere else. For me, museums feed my desire to learn and provide me with inspiration for my own art. They open my world to something new. There is no doubt in my mind that the doctors in Belgium have it right.