The first summer school that combines art and health was born at UdeM

Nathalie Bondil

Credit: Max Abadian

Can art help improve people’s health and well-being? Absolutely, conclude several studies. Based on their compelling results, museologist and curator Nathalie Bondil aims to promote the “vision of a museum that does good” and bring museotherapy into the practice of health professionals.

In her role as the sage of the University of Montreal and guided by a desire to bring art closer to health, she worked hand in hand with health and art history specialists from UdeM to design a project summer school around this concept that she defined in 2016 in the Manifesto for a Humanist Museum of Fine Arts, published at the inauguration of the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA).

“Museotherapy sees the museum as a place that can act on well-being through the contemplation of works of art, artistic creation and guided tours. The summer school will make it possible to give this approach a scientific framework to make it a tool for promoting the health and well-being of the population,” says the one who now manages the Arab Museum’s Department and Exhibitions. World Institute leads in Paris.

Olivier Beauchet

Olivier Beauchet

Credit: Courtesy Photo

the dr Olivier Beauchet, full professor at the Department of Medicine at the university, and Johanne Lamoureux, full professor at the Department of Art History and Film Studies at UdeM, gave their insights in setting up this training entitled “Arts and health: the place of museotherapy”, which combines theoretical lectures, interactive workshops and immersion in the museum.

The Summer School, which is offered free of charge to teaching staff, students of all university levels and to health and arts professionals, will take place in Montreal from August 29 to September 2 in hybrid form (in attendance and videoconference).

Humanizing care through art

the dr Beauchet has long been studying ways to bring more humanity into healthcare in order to improve the health status of the elderly. In the past, the geriatrician and neurologist have demonstrated the effectiveness of plastic arts workshops with these clients to shorten their hospital stay. In response to the dynamism of the MMFA’s Beaux-Thursdays (guided tours of the museum’s collections and creative workshops), in 2015 he launched an international research program to investigate the effects of artistic interventions on improving the well-being and socialization of older people.

“The link between art and health, we’ve been interested in it since the 19th”e century with art therapy as part of the treatment of a disease. With museotherapy, the novelty is to come out of the hospital world to carry out primary prevention in older people in particular and the population in general,” notes the director of the laboratory of the research center of the University Institute of Geriatrics of Montreal .

for the Dr Beauchet has provided evidence that art enhances the individual’s connection to himself and society and that museums can be a vector for improving individuals’ health and socialization. “When we look at works of art, we immerse ourselves in emotions that allow us to step back and understand what is happening inside ourselves. The summer school will teach the generic principles of museotherapy that can be applied to all groups of individuals,” he says.

A non-accrediting certificate of participation will be issued to those who have completed the training and participated in the evaluation. Ten university students and three members of the Quebec Network for Research on Aging will be selected to receive a scholarship to attend an intensive school to be held in France in 2022-2023.

For more information about the summer school “Art and health: the place of museotherapy”, consult the website.

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