Canterbury Museums and Galleries are interested in exploring the benefits of arts and heritage on people’s health and wellbeing! Over the past 5 years, the Museums’ team have been trialling various creative interventions in order to understand how a Museum can offer unique experiences to support healthier and happier lifestyles. This work has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally. As a result, we are the lead partner for the health and wellbeing strand of the Kent and Medway Museums Partnership project, funded by Arts Council England as part of the National Portfolio.

As part of this project, our team have started to undertake a series of creative experiments, inspired by the museums collection, to test the hypothesis that access to arts and heritage can positively impact visitors health and wellbeing.  Alongside this hypothesis, we are also testing out whether working in an organisation with Health & Wellbeing at its core can improve Health & Wellbeing outcomes for staff.

To do this, we have started to run activities to support staff health and wellbeing. As many staff in galleries use their hands a lot, particularly our Collections and Learning team who – handle the collection and work with our handling collection – we decided to begin with a staff hand massage workshop.  We invited all Museums and Galleries staff along with volunteers and practitioners who run our Health and Wellbeing groups to attend this free workshop. The session was held in our Learning Lab with relaxing music playing in the background and was led by our Health and Wellbeing Coordinator; a qualified masseuse.

All staff, volunteers and practitioners who attended said they felt relaxed after the session and that they would use the techniques they had learned either on themselves or, on someone else. Their feedback was that they found the session useful: ‘It was relaxing and hands feel better.  I really enjoyed the session – it was very informative and de-stressing! The experience was very relaxing and soothing. I am going to try to use these newly learnt techniques on my husband who suffers from poor circulation. I was surprised how therapeutic the session was. Certainly, I would recommend other volunteers to attend a massage workshop.’