Charlotte Foster


How art museums are helping to heal their audiences

How art museums are helping to heal their audiences

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a worldwide increase in depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. 

As a response to the global mental health problems, art galleries and museums are responding to the collective trauma with specialised art installations and programmes. 

The last 18 months has seen a drastic increase of museum-based healing initiatives, that are available online and in person. 

The Queens Museum in New York has launched La Ventanita/The Little Window, an online art therapy program for recent immigrants and students at local elementary schools. 

In Florida, the Tampa Museum of Art is expanding both in-person and virtual offerings in connections, a community art engagement program geared toward people with depression, memory loss, and PTSD.

In the country of Doha, a medical research centre has teamed up with the National Museum of Qatar to design an art therapy program to help alleviate depression and anxiety in children. 

Another New York museum has developed an online “care package” with an option to meditate amid chanting monks in a virtual version of its shrine room.

The programmes are not the first time art has been used to heal individuals of traumatic experiences. 

Some have previously been influenced by social change, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, to help those in mourning and those dealing with mental turmoil. 

Art has long been used to help people heal from trauma, as a means to discuss the relationship between art and health. 

In 2017, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts hired a full-time art therapist and permitted physicians to formally “prescribe” free access to their galleries, which drew in a lot of global attention. 

Art therapy originally arose in the 1940s and ’50s, as specialised exhibitions helped researchers in the mental health field study the brain’s response to art. 

Image credit: Shutterstock

Our Partners