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Doctors to prescribe museum visits to help patients ‘escape from their own pain’

October 12, 2018
CBC News

A group of Canadian physicians will be writing a new kind of prescription starting next month — a trip to the museum.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and a Montreal-based doctors’ association are launching a pilot project Nov. 1 to treat patients to a day of paintings, sculpture and relaxation.

One of the doctors behind the initiative says a trip to the museum can benefit people with conditions from mental illness and eating disorders to diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as those in palliative care.

“It’s so rare in medicine that you prescribe something and you do not need to worry about all those side-effects or interactions with other medication,” said Dr. Hélène Boyer, vice-president of Médecins francophones du Canada.

Under the pilot project, association members will be able to issue up to 50 prescriptions granting free admission to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for a family of four. (A single ticket for an adult can normally cost as much as $31.)

Releases hormones, distracts from chronic pain

Nathalie Bondil, the museum’s director general and chief curator, made her pitch to the association at their annual meeting. The physicians were intrigued by the idea.

“We know that art stimulates neural activity,” said Bondil, whose museum already employs a full-time art therapist to hold creative workshops for those with chronic illness.

“What we see is that the fact that you are in contact with culture, with art, can really help your well-being.”

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