Doctors in Brussels Can Now Prescribe Museum Visits as Treatments for Stress, Anxiety & Depression

Image by Tomás Fano, via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

When COVID-19 was fast spread­ing across the world, we fea­tured ways to vis­it a vari­ety of cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions with­out leav­ing home here on Open Cul­ture. Lo those two and a half years ago, online muse­um-going seemed like the health­i­est option. Now, with pan­dem­ic-relat­ed restric­tions being loos­ened and even scrapped all over the world, the time has come to get back out there, or rather in there, spend­ing time at one’s favorite cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions. Indeed, a trip to the muse­um is just what the doc­tor ordered — in Brus­sels, lit­er­al­ly.

“Start­ing this month, doc­tors at the Brug­mann Hos­pi­tal, one of Brus­sels’ largest health cen­ters, are able to pre­scribe their patients vis­its to a num­ber of cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions man­aged by the city” as part of treat­ments for “stress, anx­i­ety and depres­sion.” So reports’s Mol­ly Enk­ing, adding that “those with a pre­scrip­tion for free entrance can tour ancient under­ground path­ways in the Sew­er Muse­um, check out tex­tiles from the 1500s at the Fash­ion and Lace Muse­um, or stroll through the gal­leries at the CENTRALE con­tem­po­rary art cen­ter, among oth­er activ­i­ties.”

They can also enjoy the Man­neken Pis Wardrobe, a muse­um show­cas­ing the thou­sand dif­fer­ent out­fits of the epony­mous uri­nat­ing stat­ue, a sym­bol of Brus­sels for cen­turies now. See­ing as Man­neken Pis “has brought a smile to the face of count­less tourists from around the world,” writes Politi­co’s Ana Fota, it makes sense to see if he can do the same for those most in need of it. As Fota quotes Brug­mann Uni­ver­si­ty Hos­pi­tal psy­chi­a­trist Vin­cent Lusty­gi­er as say­ing when asked how a place like the Sew­er Muse­um can help the depressed, “Why not try? We are going to test it and see.”

The eval­u­a­tion should come in six months, the declared peri­od of this “pilot pro­gram” that has grant­ed muse­um vis­its the sta­tus of psy­cho­log­i­cal treat­ments. Inspired by a sim­i­lar pol­i­cy imple­ment­ed in Mon­tre­al back in 2018, it does have a fair bit of research behind it. As the Guardian’s Jen­nifer Rankin reports, “a review by the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion in 2019 con­clud­ed that arts could help peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing men­tal ill­ness­es and urged greater col­lab­o­ra­tion between cul­ture and pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als.” The def­i­n­i­tion of cul­ture here could expand well beyond muse­ums: sure­ly there’s also research to do on, say, the unde­ni­able ther­a­peu­tic val­ue of a good plate of moules-frites.

Relat­ed con­tent:

British Doc­tors To Pre­scribe Arts & Cul­ture to Patients: “The Arts Are Essen­tial to our Health and Well­be­ing”

New Study: Immers­ing Your­self in Art, Music & Nature Might Reduce Inflam­ma­tion & Increase Life Expectan­cy

Why Med Schools Are Requir­ing Stu­dents to Take Art Class­es, and How It Makes Med Stu­dents Bet­ter Doc­tors

Your Brain on Art: The Emerg­ing Sci­ence of Neu­roaes­thet­ics Probes What Art Does to Our Brains

Alain de Bot­ton Shows How Art Can Answer Life’s Big Ques­tions in Art as Ther­a­py

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

by | Permalink | Comments (1) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.