NEMO Webinar | Museums Health and Well Being

16 June 2017 | Mark O'Neill

The webinar deals with the potential of museums to contribute to public health. Many museum staff intuitively believe museums make a positive contribution to people’s health and well being, and are increasingly developing activities and projects which seek to enhance their impact.

This webinar aims to look beyond individual projects and to make a strategic assessment of the potential contribution of museums to human well being. It reviews the evidence for the health benefits of museum visiting, in the context of a broad history of how museums have related to public health in the past 150 years. Some public health academics argue that their field needs to enter a new phase in order to address the diseases of modernity (obesity, mental ill-health, loneliness). This new phase will require a more holistic approach based on fostering social trust and inclusive narratives which enhance people’s sense of leading meaningful lives. The webinar concludes with an assessment of the potential of museums to contribute to this emerging approach to public health.

Mark O’Neill is the former director of Policy & Research for Glasgow Life, the charity which delivers arts, museums, libraries and sports services for the City of Glasgow. Mark worked in various positions in museums in Glasgow after moving there in 1985, serving as Head of Glasgow Museums from 1998-2009. During this period he led the teams who set up the St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, one of only five multi-faith museums in the world and refurbished Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. He also wrote the masterplan for the Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum (European Museum of the Year 2012). He is particularly interested in the social purposes of cultural institutions, in people’s motivations to take part in cultural activities and in the health benefits of cultural participation.

The webinar was co-organised with MICC and NEMECH.

Download the presentation here.

Watch the full presentation below.