‘Not So Grim Up North’ TWAM publishes the results of its museums and wellbeing project 7 Dec 2018

From 2015 to early 2018 ACE funded a research project ‘Not So Grim Up North’ to investigate the health and wellbeing impacts of museum and gallery attendance for audiences with significant health problems such as dementia, stroke and mental illness. Partners included NHS and third sector organisations in Greater Manchester and Tyne and Wear alongside museums including TWAM, Whitworth and Manchester Museum. It used qualitative research, such participants’ own perceptions and diaries to explore how museum engagement could support wellbeing or (where relevant) recovery. The report describes how museum staff picked up new health-based knowledge – for instance, by working with the Stroke Association, so they could structure appropriate activity. The projects tracked positive results attributed to museum work, including mood improvement, reconnecting socially and volunteering. The research also provides a framework for other museums interested in similar work. TWAM (scroll for pdf link to full report) Health and Culture (project website)  

Also: The Whitworth Gallery is also part of a major project in Manchester to address homelessness through the arts. During November, it staged Emma Turner’s performance art piece ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ in which members of the public could sit and ask any question to Denise Harrison, who has experienced homelessness. Denise told the Big Issue “I want the people sat in the chair opposite me to understand what it feels like and that it can happen to anyone.” Big Issue, The Guardian