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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Evidence on Trial Public Lecture - Culture and Health: what’s the evidence?

15th February 2016, 18:15 to 19:15, Kingsley Barrett Room, Calman Learning Centre, Lower Mountjoy, Durham University, Professor Helen Chatterjee (University College London)


This talk will explore the impact of cultural engagement on health and wellbeing, with a focus on museums. There is a growing evidence base which suggests that cultural participation enhances human health and wellbeing. Research has shown that engaging in museums, for example, provides: positive social experiences, leading to reduced social isolation; opportunities for learning and acquiring news skills; calming experiences, leading to decreased anxiety; increased positive emotions, such as optimism, hope and enjoyment; increased self-esteem and sense of identity; increased inspiration and opportunities for meaning making; positive distraction from clinical environments, including hospitals and care homes; and increased communication between families, carers and health professionals. But how does this evidence compare to the rigour of comparable health studies and what is the best way to collect evidence for the efficacy of non-clinical interventions, such as arts participation or visiting museums?

Helen Chatterjee is a Professor of Biology at UCL and Head of Research and Teaching in UCL’s Department of Public and Cultural Engagement. Her research interests include touch and the value of museum object handling in health and wellbeing, and its pedagogical value in education. Helen published the edited volume 'Touch in Museums: Policy and Practice in Object Handling' (Berg Publications) in 2008 and wrote ‘Museums, Health and Well-being’ (Ashgate Press) in 2013. In 2015 she published ‘Engaging the Senses: Object-Based Learning in Higher Education’ (Ashgate Press) and was awarded an MBE for services to Higher Education and Culture.

This lecture is free and open to all.


Map – The Calman Learning Centre is denoted at building number: 43.

Contact for more information about this event.