Physicians to prescribe trips to Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Physicians who are members of Médecins francophones du Canada (MdFC) will be able to prescribe patients with visits to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts starting in November.

Museum trips will be offered as an alternative to conventional treatment. There are numerous health benefits of art on museum visits.

In August, research by the University of California found that a one hour museum tour can alleviate feelings of chronic pain and reduce feelings of isolation.

57 percent of chronic-pain patients reported a decrease in their pain levels. This lasted up to three weeks after the tour. Most participants also reported feeling less socially disconnected.

This collaboration between the MMFA and MdFC is the first initiative of its kind in the world.

“Innovative pilot”

Nathalie Bondil, Director General and Chief Curator of the MMFA, said: “I am convinced that in the 21st century, culture will be what physical activity was for health in the 20th century. Cultural experiences will benefit health and wellness, just as engaging in sports contributes to fitness. Skeptics would do well to recall that just a hundred years ago, sports were believed to distort the body and threaten women’s fertility. Just as doctors now prescribe exercise, they will be able to prescribe a visit to the MMFA. We are very proud of this ground-breaking pilot project, in partnership with the Médecins francophones du Canada.”

Dr. Diane Poirier, President of MdFC, said: “Médecins francophones du Canada promotes quality medicine with respect for human values, focused on the physical and mental well-being of every individual. Based on a global approach to health, the museum prescription program coincides perfectly with our commitment to recognizing the individuality and humanity of our patients. This is an innovative pilot project that we hope will spread across the country.”

Research has long studied the health benefits of different activities – including visiting various attractions. A 2015 study found that visiting aquariums can improve physical and mental health. Earlier this year, the British Association of Leisure Parks, Piers & Attractions (BALPPA) also highlighted the ‘hidden’ health benefits of Indoor Play Centres.

Image courtesy Montreal Museum of Fine Arts