This innovative programme has led to The Beaney becoming a pioneering happiness hub within the district. Joining a community of UK museums, The Beaney is part of the Happy Museum, a national initiative funded by Arts Council and The Paul Hamlyn Foundation, who are committed to supporting wellbeing and a sustainable society.
In 2013 a Happy Museum project transformed The Front Room into a life-size Paper Apothecary, created from recycled paper and card by a local arts organisation Animate Arts. During its run, over 200 school pupils, young people, community groups and members of The Beaney Team became ‘Happiness Investigators’, whose mission it was to explore and investigate the building to discover what makes people happy at the Beaney.
Their findings were made into ‘cultural treatments’ which were dispensed by a resident ‘chemist’ and designed to make people feel happier. Over 6,500 people engaged with the apothecary and 96% reported feeling happier afterwards. It won the Collections Trust award and health and wellbeing is now embedded into The Beaney ethos and programme.
And, in 2018, the Beaney commissioned a community project as part of Happy Museum’s Season for Change which culminated in the exhibition Breathing Canterbury.
The Happy Museum Project looks at how the museum sector can respond to the challenge of creating a more sustainable future. It supports museum practice that places wellbeing within an environmental and future-facing frame, rethinking the role that museums can play in creating more resilient people, places and planet.