The potential for museums to operate as agents of change in the promotion of social inclusion and health and wellbeing is a growing area of research and is aligned with the intersections between cultural engagement and public health. Using a case study analysis, this paper will discuss implications and findings of research and practice arising from a heritage-in-health programme called 'Touching Heritage: Objects to Healthcare' (hereafter ‘Touching Heritage’) funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of their ‘Your Heritage’ funding stream. The project takes museum objects from University College London collections out to people who by virtue of their health or age would otherwise be excluded from participating in cultural activities, such as those who are hospitalised, attending day or community centres or residents of care homes or sheltered housing. The project extends access to a wide variety of heritage objects, and actively involves socially excluded/isolated communities and individuals in participatory sessions. The paper will discuss the potential for museums to promote health and wellbeing by recruiting and training volunteers to become community curators and object-handling facilitators. Using a mixed-methods approach to data collection, including surveys, focus groups, interviews and reflexive feedback, the paper will discuss findings related to best practice for the development of volunteer led outreach programmes that partner museums to hospitals and community healthcare services. The paper will discuss implications for sustainable practice, satellite programming, and best practice in heritage-in-health work.
|Keywords:||Heritage-in-health, Health, Wellbeing, Volunteer, Outreach, Community, Object Handling, Reflexivity, Participant Action Research|
Project Co-ordinator, Museums and Public Engagement, University College London, London, n/a, UK
Outreach Coordinator, Museums and Public Engagement, UCL, UK
Deputy Director of Museums, Museums and Public Engagement, University College London, London, UK
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