Museums are Good for You
Museums are brilliant and inspiring places, there can be no doubt about it. People visit museums for many, many reasons. Museums make you smarter, inspire, are a focus for the community and a great place to spend time with your friends and family. But what effect does a museum visit have on you? The entertainment factor of a museum makes you feel enjoyment. Understanding how things work raises your self-esteem. Appreciating the aesthetics of a great object stretches your imagination and is uplifting. And you get all of this in a calm and safe place. People definitely visit museums to feel good and if you need a bit of a lift I would wholeheartedly recommend you visit your local museum.
There is plenty of research to back all of this up. Museums make us happy – museum visits contribute more to wellbeing than arts and sports. Museums, especially if working in partnership with other organisations, can make a huge contribution to mental health (Museum Development North West Who Cares report). The economic benefits of museums are estimated to be in the order of £1.5 billion per year. And while many museums have reduced their own carbon footprints, the role the cultural sector play in driving wider societal change is also growing.
Museums have an enormous potential to change and develop communities. One of the best places to visit in any town and city for access to current research and new ideas is the museum. Museums are therefore best placed for being hot spots of community engagement. In this context, the Museums Association, through their new flagship campaign Museums Change Lives), encourages museums to be more proactive in making an impact on society and people’s wellbeing.
It is hard in the current financial climate especially for small museums with staff shortages, leaking roofs and paint peeling off the walls to continue this work. Fortunately, museums attract some of the most enthusiastic and resourceful staff and volunteers, who, despite these pressures, will do anything they can to ensure that museums continue to be good for you.
The Welsh Museums Federation’s ‘Linking Natural Science Collections in Wales’ project is supporting curators in 20 local museums around Wales. By providing training and information about natural science collections we are going to ensure the continued use of these collections for inspiration, learning and community focus. We are enabling curators to care for and use their natural science collections. This will help to ensure that museums in Wales can look into the future and still make us happy for many more years to come.