Doctors in Brussels can now prescribe free museum visits to patients

Doctors in Brussels can now prescribe free museum visits to patients
Credit: Delphine Houba

Doctors can now prescribe free visits to museums located in the City of Brussels as part of a pilot project aimed at giving vulnerable people access to culture and offering therapeutic support.

As a World Health Organisation study showed, visiting museums can improve people's health by reducing stress and making life feel more meaningful, among other things. Doctors at the Brugmann Hospital in Brussels are tapping into this potential by offering patients free museum visits as part of their treatment plan.

"Starting today, doctors at CHU Brugmann will be able to prescribe their patients a free visit to a museum in the City of Brussels," Brussels Councillor for Culture, Delphine Houba, announced on Monday. "This is a big European debut that I am looking forward to launching in Brussels."

The pilot project will take place for six months (between 6 September 2022 to 5 March 2023), and will allow doctors to prescribe up to five visits per patient, meaning they can visit all museums in the commune: the City Museum on the Grand Place, and the Fashion & Lace Museum on Rue de la Violette, as well as the Sewer Museum, the wardrobe of Mannekin-Pis and the Centre for Contemporary Art.

An example of the Museum Prescription Form. Credit: Delphine Houba

The cost of the entrance ticket will be covered by the City of Brussels.

Double objectives

The agreement on the pilot project states that it has two objectives. On the one hand, it aims to give vulnerable people access to culture, while on the other hand, it is hoped it will offer therapeutic support in addition to the treatment of the patient.

The form for the Museum Prescription includes information about what museum the patient will visit and how many people will accompany them (up to three visitors can join). This form must be signed by the doctor.

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Inspiration for the idea came from the Canadian province of Quebec, which introduced such a system in 2018 after an agreement between the Fine Arts Museum in Montreal and the professional order of physicians.

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