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Museum in the Park, Stroud
 

Museum Spaces and Health - An exclusive perspective from Museum in the Park, Stroud

Museums have a reputation as safe, welcoming venues which can be at the heart of their communities and make a real positive difference to the lives of people. Kevin Ward, Museum Development Manager at Museum in the Park talks AHSW through his perspective.

 

The role museums can play in health and well-being is a well discussed topic. However, whilst objects in museums play a crucial role in offering diverse opportunities to engage the community in well-being activities, often, simply the location, feel, or ethos of a museum space is the key to delivering health benefits to people.

 

The Museum in the Park in Stroud, Gloucestershire is nestled in the beautiful 56 acre Stratford Park which features not the only the Museum but an arboretum, lake, leisure centre with lido and much more!  So before visitors even get to the Museum they are taking a journey in a beautiful setting which encourages healthy lifestyles.

 

Museum in the Park

Museum in the Park, Stroud

 

The Museum, through our location and ethos encourages others to look to us to support or partner health and well-being projects.

 

The Museum acts as the venue for a weekly Art on Prescription which is organised by South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.  They use museum spaces because of the ambience of the location and objects on display.  When I mention that the College is also located in the same park, it further highlights how valuable a museum setting can be.

 

The Museum also works in partnership with Fair Shares (a local community charity) to support Dementia Friendly Walks in Stratford Park.  The Museum has provided a familiar welcoming location to participants – which can be a key factor in dementia work.  To support this Museum staff and volunteers also undertook Dementia Friends training. The group starts at the Museum with a ‘nice cuppa tea’ they then take a gentle stroll around the Park returning to the Museum always beaming with smiles and in great conversation.  A short film was made of these walks and can be viewed here.

 

Dementia walks group

 

In addition, we work with Fair Shares on other dementia related activities which utilise the space we have available. These are the popular ‘Chance to Chat’ postcards which are placed on our cafe tables and are used to start a conversation, and more recently, ‘Chance to Chat Memory Boxes’; these are held by the Museum and the local library for carers to borrow for free and use in their own setting to encourage conversation.

 

Chance to chat cards

Chance to Chat cards

 

With our Museum Friends we have been returning a lost and derelict walled garden back to life.  The 2000sqm Garden, which adjoins the Museum, will provide a unique outdoor space which supports well-being.  The flagship of the Garden project is a new learning building, the Pavilion.  This building has been designed to merge learning indoors and outdoors, which along with the Garden will provide numerous health and well-being opportunities.  Although not yet fully open, schools which have used the space have commented on how well it supports learning, with one teacher claiming that “every school should have classrooms like this”!

 

The Pavilion

new Learning building – the Pavilion

 

Museums are often thought of as accessible well-being venues and this reputation can spread through the community. The Museum once had a gentleman visit regularly who was recovering from a car accident. His GP had suggested he came to the Museum due to the ease of accessibility and the small changes in floor height... Museum Space on Prescription anyone?

 

For more information about the Museum in the Park, Stroud please visit www.museuminthepark.org.uk

 

Posted on 19 February 2016

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