Museums on Prescription
Museums on Prescription is a three-year research project (2014-17) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council investigating the value of heritage encounters in social prescribing.

Social prescribing links people to sources of community support to improve their health and wellbeing.  The Museums on Prescription project connected lonely older people at risk of social isolation to partner museums in Central London and Kent.   The project researched the processes, practices, value and impact of social prescription schemes in the arts and cultural sector with specific reference to museums (including galleries).

Research questions

Phase 1 (July 2014 – June 2015):
How do existing social prescribing schemes work in UK cultural and arts organisations (and selected countries including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US and EU)?
How were such schemes set up, who are the participants, what partners are involved and what were the critical success factors in implementation?

What is the value and impact of such schemes to participants (e.g. patients) and key stakeholders (e.g. hosting organisations, local government, referrers)?

Phase 2 (July 2015 – June 2017):
In the development of a new social prescription scheme (Museums on Prescription), targeting older adults, what will be the critical success factors in implementation, and what are the cost-benefits?
What is the value and impact of a Museums on Prescription scheme for older adult participants in relation to social isolation, loneliness, psychological and subjective wellbeing?
What is the value and impact of a Museums on Prescription scheme for stakeholders (museums, health/social care providers, third sector organisations) in two distinct settings: an urban setting (Central London) compared to a regional setting (Kent)?
What is the value and impact of a Museums on Prescription scheme for a small museum (e.g. Islington Museum, The Beaney Museum) compared to a larger national museum (e.g. The British Museum)?

How can lessons learned from the development of novel Museums on Prescription schemes be used to inform the practice of other museums through the creation of a standardised MoP model?
How transferable will a Museums on Prescription model be to other museums?

What can different data collection methodologies and techniques, from across the humanities, social sciences and health, tell us about understanding the value and impact of cultural activities on health and wellbeing.

The project is supported by work carried out over several years into museums, touch and wellbeing, assessing the benefits of discussing and handling heritage objects in healthcare settings.

Research team

Professor Helen Chatterjee is the Principal Investigator and Head of the project. Helen is a Professor of  Biology in UCL’s School of Life and Medical Sciences, and Head of Research and Teaching in UCL Culture.

Professor Paul Camic is Co-Investigator and Professor of Psychology & Public Health and Research Director, Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University.
Paul Camic's website

Dr Linda Thomson is the project’s Lead Postdoctoral Research Associate and Cognitive Psychologist at UCL.

Dr Bridget Lockyer is the project's Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Canterbury Christ Church University.

Dr Theo Stickley is the project’s External Advisor and Associate Professor of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham.

London and Kent workshops
Workshops held during Nov 2015 provided opportunities for an exchange of ideas about museum sessions for older adults including access, recruitment and suitability of activities.

Workshop presentations & resources:


For a review of Social Prescribing see:
Chatterjee, HJ, Camic, PM, Lockyer, B and Thomson, LJ (2017) Non-clinical community interventions. A systematised review of social prescribing schemes. Arts & Health. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17533015.2017.1334002

Partner organisations

Age UK Camden, Canterbury, Islington, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells
Arts Council England
The British Museum
The British Postal Museum and Archive
Camden Council (Housing and Adult Social Care)
Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (Camden Psychological Services)
Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Museums and Galleries
Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection
The Claremont Project
Islington Museum and Archives
Kent County Council (Children, Families and Education)
Kent and Medway NHS Partnership Trust
Maidstone Museum & Bentlif Art Gallery
New Economics Foundation (NEF Consulting)
Royal Society for Public Health
Tunbridge Wells Museums & Art Gallery
UCL Museums & Collections

Museums on Prescription is a multi-site collaboration involving a range of partner organisations.

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