North East Launch of Research Project showing positive impact of museums on health and wellbeing

06 November 2018

Not So Grim Up North, research project funded by Arts Council England

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) is launching the findings of the Not So Grim Up North research project on Wednesday 7 November, 3-5pm at Great North Museum: Hancock, which concluded that interaction with museums had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia, stroke survivors and mental health service users.

Not So Grim Up North is a research project which took place October 2015 - February 2018. It has been funded by Arts Council England in a collaboration between University College London (UCL) and museum partners Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester Museum, and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

The main aim of the project was to investigate the health and wellbeing impacts of museum and gallery activities for a range of audience groups, including: older people living with dementia; stroke survivors; and mental health service-users (including addiction recovery service-users). It also aimed to co-develop a mixed-methods approach with different stakeholders to assess the value and impact of ‘museums-in-health’ programmes for participants from a wide range of audience groups. Finally, the project sought to develop an evaluation framework for future museum programming.

Research has demonstrated the positive health outcomes, including increased psychological wellbeing, improved motivation, increased confidence and self-esteem, as well as acquisition of new skills, associated with TWAM and Manchester Museums’ sector-leading wellbeing programmes, that have been developed for mental health service users, stroke survivors and people with dementia.

Neil Churchill OBE, Director for Experience, Participation & Equalities, NHS England and keynote speaker at the event said: “It’s fantastic to see the arts, heritage and natural sciences being used so imaginatively to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia or recovering from strokes. These initiatives aid NHS care, helping staff know patients better, communicate more engagingly and improve mental health and wellbeing, as well as giving patients the chance to pursue their interests and try new things.”

Other key speakers are Catherine Mitchell, Senior Relationship Manager, North, Arts Council England, and Rachel Simmen, Community Integration Coordinator Momentum Skills /Moving on Together Partnership.

Catherine Mitchell said: “The Arts Council strongly believes that taking part in arts and culture can have a really positive effect on the health and wellbeing of everyone within the community. So I’m very pleased that we, alongside our partners, have funded this research project to show how museum and gallery programmes can benefit a wide audience in different ways.”

Attendees will be able to hear about TWAM’s health and wellbeing programmes and TWAM staff would like to start conversations with interested guests in further developing those programmes through research, commissioning and partnering opportunities.

The published research findings will be available as a free publication at the event and as a download in PDF format here

For further information about the project see:

Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance:    

Media Contact

Sheryl McGregor: Principal Officer: Communications (0191) 277 2311,