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Can museum visits cure psychological difficulties?

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Can museum visits cure psychological difficulties?
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Did you know that some Canadian doctors are soon going to be able to prescribe museum visits to their patients with psychological difficulties? The Classical Art Museum in Montreal and the Francophone Association of Canadian Doctors have launched this extraordinary feat in order to combat physiological difficulties suffered by their patients.

Stroll about a museum

The goal is simple.  Doctors aim to treat stress, anxiety, depression and many other psychic problems.  Soon they will be able to do this by prescribing museum visits to their patients.  In particular the Classical Art Museum of Montreal (Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal). Doctors that are participating in this new protocol have the ability to prescribe 50 free visits for two adults and two children. It is a praiseworthy idea.  The positive effects of contemplation and observation on the mind of people with psychological difficulties are well known.  However why should patients be prescribed museum visits?

musée de Montréal Andrea Wright flickr
©️ Andrea Wright / flickr
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal

Could culture be the new sport?

An extraordinary feat but it is more than that.  Only a few centuries ago, sport was considered unhealthy for the body and mind.  Physical activities deformed limbs and affected infertility.  What is more it had the tendency to make people crazy and aggressive.   These outdated concepts of physical activity are certainly not prevalent in today’s society.

Nathalie Bondil, the chief executive of the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal stated in a press release that “I am convinced that in the 21st century, cultural activities will be like what physical activities were for our health in the 20th century.  Cultural experiences are beneficial for our health and well-being just as physical exercise contributes to our physical condition.  Looking at a work of art or immersing yourself in a creative activity takes into consideration the same elements that have an effect on our cognitive functions and our well-being.”

Contemplating works of art

In order to combat depressive issues for sufferers it is crucial that the people affects can produce “pleasure hormones” like dopamine and endorphins.  These types of hormones are also produced during physical activities.  However it turns out that they are also secreted during visits to museums.

Contemplation and catharsis which produces an ambulation could explain this phenomenon.  For example if you are angry you can look at an angry (or what you perceive as angry) piece of art.  The same for if you are sad.  These observations remove is certain manner the emotion that you are feeling internally and can project it onto the artwork. In this sense; negative emotions that you can feel during a time of low moral, or sadness can then express themselves through the piece of art.

via GIPHY

Last words

Over the course of this year, some participating doctors will be able to observe is this method is successful.  As a result in a few years time perhaps when we go to the doctors museum visits will be prescribed.

One museum visit per week for one month. 

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