It is well known that museums can have a significant positive impact on our quality of life. Art museums provide aesthetically pleasing environments for us to explore our identities. Science centers and natural history museums pique our curiosity, inspiring our quests for discovery. History museums offer portals to our shared past, allowing us to make sense of the present.
Not only do museums provide existential benefits, but they can also contribute to our wellbeing. In other words, a trip to the museum—like jogging or eating your vegetables—is a healthy choice.
The Arteffact Project undertook a study in 2012 to discover whether museums had a measurable positive effect on mental health. Their findings indicated that “creative activity in museums has a significant beneficial effect on the mental wellbeing of people suffering from mental distress and that the museum setting has contributed to this effect.” Participants described the museum environment as “inspirational and calming” and reported that “they experienced a connection to the human through interaction with the artifacts.”
It is vital that museums actively promote mental wellbeing and build upon studies like the one done by the Arteffact Project if they wish to fulfill their obligation to their communities.