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.
To some families the idea of taking their young child to a museum is something akin to a nightmare. The constant struggle to keep their hands off the artifacts, fighting to keep them still, and heaven forbid they make a loud noise. All eyes would be on you. Judging you and your child that cannot behave in a museum. This doesn’t have to be the way museums are viewed by families with young children. Continue reading
Upcycling, that is creating art as well as objects like flowerpots out of empty containers and used materials, helps decrease human-made trash. These craft projects are fun for all ages, and something that museum educators can easily incorporate into programs geared towards children and families.
The need for environmentally conscientious practices and re-use of materials are concepts that both kids and adults can understand. In addition, together kids and family members and/ or friends have the ability to help the environment through relatively simple actions, for instance upcycling. Programs with discussions and crafts facilitated by a museum educator also have the potential to encourage conversations about complex physical and socioeconomic concerns the participants face as well as environmental issues that broadly effect people across the globe. Examples might include, associating low-income families’ need for healthy food and safe housing, with the necessities required for the bears depicted in the painting (below), specifically forested areas, clean water, and food supplies. Continue reading