Event | Museums Association Conference III

Lucie Fitton reflects on her last day at the 2016 conference in Glasgow...

Last night I sat in Glasgow airport sipping an IrnBru (no, really – I wanted my last moments in this great city to be authentic) reflecting on a jam-packed conference. As Head of Learning and Participation, I encounter audiences who share the difference cultural engagement can make to how they feel (I guess we all live that mantra or we wouldn’t work in this sector), so I’ve had a great day immersed in sessions around health and wellbeing.

In the Museums and Psychotherapy session it was great to hear from art psychotherapists how powerful they believe museums to be when working with patients. Unsurprisingly, in museums - out of the clinical world - ‘patients’ become ‘people’. However, I found it really interesting to hear that they found the secure environment of museums (vital for collections of course) and solidity of material culture offered a much-needed sense of safety. In addition, in one project with young adults, the creative exploration museums offered allowed them to be playful - an important part of cognitive development - which had been missing from their lives.

Afterward, I went to a session which discussed how the cultural and health sector can work together for a shared vision around health and wellbeing. It was refreshing to have a nurse (winner of nurse of the year award no less) on the panel. Her enthusiasm demonstrated in a very real way how health practitioners value the potential of museums - but she did say we need to be even more proactive - go and contact health HR teams with your ideas. It can be hard to get things going - but keep at it - and be a ‘good rebel’. One winning idea from a delegate - museums and health staff doing secondments (has anyone tried this?), won this book.

I’m off to become a ‘better good rebel’ - after a flight home and a long sleep.

Lucie Fitton, Head of Learning & Participation

Follow Lucie on twitter @lucieinlondon