In this session we discuss the potential of museums to contribute to health and wellbeing, inviting both researchers and practitioners. Is this agenda an instrumentalization of the museum institution, as some have suggested, or is it a powerful positioning of the benefits of museums to society?
Are claims that museums contribute to general health and wellbeing realistic, or are they a utopian ideal? How can we measure these claims in a reliable way? Should museums even be considering health and wellbeing issues in their day to day work, or is this beyond the role and responsibility of the museum institution? We invite both researchers and practitioners to contribute both case studies and theoretical standpoints. Ultimately, we ask if focussing on the wellbeing potential of museums is creating unrealistic and inappropriate goals that follow agendas which are not in the interests of the museum, or whether positioning museums as contributors to wellbeing is in fact creating an important position for them in contemporary society?
Through this panel we aim also to create a networking opportunity. It is part of a recently started research project on museums and wellbeing at the University of Helsinki, involving the two panel convenors.