After attending a doctor’s appointment, you are probably used to receiving a prescription that states a particular drug, the dosage to take, and how many weeks to take it. But what if instead of a prescription that took you to a pharmacy, your doctor gave you a prescription for a visit to the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum?
In Belgium, this sort of prescription is becoming commonplace under a new pilot program. In September of 2021, the three-month program was devised by the Brugmann Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Brussels, to assist patients suffering from stress and trauma. As an important response to COVID designed to rebuild mental health, the program allows doctors to prescribe individuals with free visits to five participating museums in the city (The Guardian, Boffey, 2021).
With the COVID-19 pandemic, museums like Gadsden Arts have been pushed to the forefront of a mental health crisis brought on by isolation. Cultural institutions around the country have begun using their art collections and educators to address the needs of a grieving public, preparing exhibitions that feature scenes of nature, meditation, and tranquility. (The New York Times, Small, 2020).
Through the beauty of their objects on display, museums offer their visitors a break from increased isolation, and a sense of refuge. GACM’s Art @ Home Kits have offered families the ability to make art in their own homes, and Art Talk Live online programs have offered learning and discovery along with social engagement.
In addition to improvements in mood and mental health, museums have been connected to physical health benefits. In the past few years, studies have linked engagement with museums and the arts to longer lifespans.
A 2019 project published by British researchers followed thousands of people over the age of 50 for 14 years, and found that those who went to a museum or attended a concert just 1-2 times per year were 14% less likely to die during the study period than those who did not visit a museum or the theater at all.
Those who went to a museum once a month, or once every few months, were 31% less likely to die. The study found that engaging in the arts reduced loneliness, promoted empathy, and kept people from being sedentary—which all contribute to a longer life (The New York Times, Cramer, 2019).
A trip to the Gadsden Arts Center & Museum may therefore offer the chance to view wonderful works of art, enjoy Quincy’s historic setting, and also mental and physical health advantages. With six gallery spaces and rotation of most exhibitions every quarter, Gadsden Arts serves as a place for extended rest and relaxation, helping to improve quality of life in Florida’s Big Bend Region.
Be sure to stop by Gadsden Arts to see Eluster Richardson: Three Decades and four more exhibitions, bring children to the ArtZone on Saturdays, and browse the Fletcher Museum Shop. Guided Group Visits for adults and Field Trips for children’s groups are also available by calling 850-627-5023.
Gadsden Arts is located in Quincy, Florida, 20 miles northwest of Tallahassee. It is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.—5 p.m. Admission is free for members and children ages 17 and under; $5 for nonmember adults, and $3 for adult students. A free admission day is offered the first Saturday of every month, and free Gadsden Arts @ Home Art Sets are available for any family. Visit gadsdenarts.org.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Can Gadsden Arts be your prescription for well-being?