Last year we were successful in applying to the Museum Development North West’s Audience Engagement Grant.

This funding has helped us to work with local people to figure out how we can offer more wellbeing resources and activities at the museum. We’ve been delighted to work with members of START – a local charity that uses creativity to improve people’s mental health.

So far, we’ve had 4 sessions with the team from START to develop our ideas. We’ve also had training sessions from Louise Thompson at Mindful Museums to help understand how the museums and its collections can support everyone’s wellbeing.

One of the highlights for all us has been trying slow looking – where we sit together and listen to a guided meditation which slowly describes the artwork in front of us.  Many of us noticed details we’d never seen before in paintings we’d looked at lots – and we all felt more relaxed, connected and inspired as a result. We followed this up with some simple creative exercises.

We’re now in the final stages of developing a short Community Guide to the museum designed by the team at START, which will include tips for quick creative activities visitors can try. We’re also planning a new Time for You: Relax with Art session, which will take place monthly. This free session will give everyone the chance to try slow looking.  We’re hoping to launch this later in the Spring.

Thank you so much to Jeni, Debbie, Phil, Mandy, Jack, Johann, Terry and Soraia for their time, creativity, ideas and advice.  The Team at START are writing about the project for a future website post – more details to follow soon.  Thank you also to Museum Development North West for their support of this project.

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