Delphine Houba, Brussels city councillor for culture and tourism, has proposed introducing a system of museum visits on the orders of a physician.
“It has been shown that art is good for mental and physical health,” she told L’Echo newspaper.
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.
There, each doctor may issue 50 prescriptions a year for a museum visit by patients they consider in need of the soothing balm of art.
The proposal for Brussels comes just days after the government introduced a plan to allow visits to a psychologist at the bargain price of €11 a session. The plan rapidly lost appeal after it turned out very few psychologists were willing to take part.
How many doctors will be willing to hand out museum prescriptions remains to be seen. More importantly, how many museums will be willing to forego revenue without compensatory funds from Brussels.
Houba now plans to organise a three-month trial, in conjunction with the psychiatric department of the Brugmann hospital, and the five museums she has authority over, including 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.
The project will be re-evaluated at the end of the year.