The project offers people the opportunity to explore how museums can be used to improve and maintain wellbeing. The project focuses on Bankfield Museum in Halifax and creative workshops take place using museum collections to help participants explore ways to improve their wellbeing in a safe and stimulating environment. The workshops are created and delivered by a museum education officer.
The project promotes the New Economics Foundation’s 5 ways of wellbeing: connect, get active, take notice, learn and give. It captures the interest of service users, who in many cases had never visited the museum, and retain their interest throughout, with the project’s ‘leaning element’ cited as the main reason for attendance. The project has raised the profile of museums as places that can contribute to a sense of wellbeing.
Following on from a pilot the new programme was developed to offer a 5-hour ‘referral day’, including a behind-the-scenes tour, curatorial talks and exercises. This is followed over the following weeks by shorter workshop sessions to select items, learning to handle and display artefacts, and creative workshops inspired by the selected item.
Items will be displayed for around one month, giving a rare opportunity to display some of the more delicate items from the collection (which could potentially be damaged by permanent or long-term exposure). In turn, this encourages the community to visit the museum and accompanying literature will promote the museum as a space for relaxation and contemplation.
Since the work began a quiet space for reflection and contemplation has been created within the museum, which is available to all visitors.