UCL News


UCL-led 'Museums on Prescription' wins health awards

31 October 2017

A UCL and Canterbury Christ Church University-led project 'Museums on Prescription' has won two prestigious Royal Society of Public Health Awards for 'Health & Wellbeing' and 'Arts and Health', with a special commendation for 'Sustainable Development'.


Museums on Prescription connects lonely older people at risk of social isolation to partner museums in Central London and Kent. Its innovative approach of social prescribing links people to sources of community support to improve their health and wellbeing. 

Professor Helen Chatterjee (UCL Genetics, Evolution & Environment) led the project and coordinated the many partners to research the processes, practices, value and impact of social prescription schemes in the arts and cultural sector with specific reference to museums including galleries.

"This is a huge achievement that would not have been possible without the support and hard work of everyone who contributed to the project. We want to say a massive thank you to the museums that ran such an exciting and stimulating range of programmes, the referrers from London and Kent and, of course, everyone who participated. We are extremely grateful to the AHRC for funding Museums on Prescription," said Professor Chatterjee on receiving the award.

Museums on Prescription was implemented in two phases from 2014-17. The first phase focused on researching existing social prescribing schemes globally - how they are set up, who participates and benefits, as well as what the critical factors are for success.  

For phase two, the team used their findings to develop their own new social prescription scheme targeting older adults.

To measure the value and impact of Museums on Prescription, the team trialled it in two distinct settings: an urban setting (Central London) and a regional setting (Kent). They also collaborated with a variety of museums, prescribing visits to small museums such as the Islington Museum, and comparing these to prescriptions to much larger museums such as The British Museum.

Co-investigator, Professor Paul Camic (Canterbury Christ Church University), said: "The project has given us a fantastic insight into the value and impact of cultural activities on health and wellbeing. We've taken all the lessons learned from Museums on Prescription to create a standardised model that can be used at other locations and with other museums in the hope that many more lonely older people can benefit."

The partner organisations include:

  • 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



    • Credit: Professor Helen Chatterjee

        Media contact

        Bex Caygill

        Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 3846

        Email: r.caygill [at] ucl.ac.uk