UCL Division of Biosciences


Culture Nature Health Research

The Culture Nature Health Research Group explores the benefits of cultural and natural participation for health and wellbeing. We work with a range of partners and a variety of audiences to explore the role of cultural and natural engagement in enhancing quality of life, and physical and mental health and wellbeing, and combating health inequalities.


Recent Research

Social Prescribing Arts and Health

Mobilising Community Assets to Tackle Health Inequalities 

Find out how we are drawing together evidence and learning from 12 AHRC/MRC/NERC Mobilizing Assets Pilot Projects and other relevant schemes. 

Creative Journey image

Community COVID

Discover how people engaged with resources designed to stimulate creativity, counter loneliness and increase sociability during COVID-19 lockdown and other public health restrictions. 

Group of Volunteers

Social Prescribing: Building the Evidence

See how we are building the evidence base to support the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP). 


Object handling

Object-based Learning

Pioneering research into the pedagogical role of objects in higher education has developed a programme dedicated to uncovering ways in which museum collections can enhance learning for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Visit to UCL Art Storage

Museums on Prescription

Find out more about how socially isolated and lonely older people were connected to 10-week museum-based programmes of creative and co-productive activities. 

Positive Wellbeing Measure

UCL Creative Wellbeing Measures

Learn about the UCL Creative Wellbeing Measures Toolkit designed to assess psychological wellbeing derived from creative participation in arts, museums, cultural and nature-based activities. 

Key Research

Volunteers in Horniman Museum
Give: Volunteering for Wellbeing

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, Give made heritage more accessible to people experiencing health inequalities, and helped to open up hidden and unused natural and local history collections. For more information, read:

Give: Final Report
Give: Short Report
Give: NHM Report

Stencilled image of birds on wall of refugee camp
Forced Displacement and Cultural Interventions

The GCRF project led by UCL and Petra University partnered with the Helen Bamber Foundation, London, and Talbieh Refugee Camp, Jordan to explore the potential of the Arts to improve health and wellbeing for refugees. Watch the 3-minute film:

Experiences of Creativity

Student learning experiences
Student Wellbeing and Experiential Learning Spaces

Building on a body of research about the wellbeing benefits of engaging with culture, SWELS explores the importance of spaces in which learning takes place in helping students to acquire knowledge and feel better. To find out more, email Dr Thomas Kador.

Past Projects

Holding an Egyptian pot
Heritage in Hospitals

UCL and UCLH Arts developed a unique programme where researchers took boxes of museum objects to hospital patients and care home residents. One-to-one sessions assessed wellbeing and happiness from handling and discussing objects from UCL Museum collections. For further information, read:

Thomson & Chatterjee (2013)

Object handling session in care home
Touching Heritage: Objects to healthcare

As an extension of Heritage in Hospitals, this volunteer training programme was set up to take good practices forward. Students and hospital visitors were trained to conduct object handling sessions with older and younger adults in hospital wards, and residential care. For more about the project, read:

Vogelpoel et al. (2013)

Making a card with cutout shapes
Not So Grim Up North

In a collaboration between UCL and museum partners, the project investigated how creative museum-based activities contributed to the health and wellbeing of people with dementia, stroke survivors, and those with mental health issues and in addiction recovery. For more information, see:

NSGUN video

NSGUN report

Object handling sessions
Museum Engagement Observation Tool

Co-produced with museum professionals, and health practitioners and care partners, the MEOT was developed for researching the impact of museum object handling sessions with people with dementia. To read more, visit:

Morse, Thomson & Chatterjee (2020)

Handling Malachite
Workshops: Heritage, health and wellbeing

UCL researchers and curators with Newcastle University and Renaissance North West held three workshops in London, Manchester, and Newcastle to consider the evidence for and evaluation of wellbeing outcomes from heritage-in-health interventions. The presentations can be accessed in the resources section of our publications page.

Holding Nautilus shell
Workshops: Touch and the value of object handling

A series of six UCL Touch Workshops was held during 2006-07 to investigate touch and the value of object handling in museums. Topics covered included object interpretation, haptics, memory, therapeutic approaches and knowledge transfer.  The abstracts can be accessed in the resources section of our publications page.