How cultural experiences can improve health and wellbeing


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The Whitworth and Manchester Museum are part of the Manchester Museums and Galleries Partnership which provides creative arts for health programmes for our local community, hospital patients and staff. The Partnership works with their collections and a wide range of creative practitioners to improve people’s well-being, the patient environment and creative learning opportunities. We develop our programmes in consultation with community health service providers, hospital staff, GPs and patients to help support improvements to the quality of care delivered by health professionals.

This website is a chance to find out how culture works, and how it can make a real contribution to health and well-being. Health and Culture was developed from the Manchester Museums and Galleries Partnership, which provides creative arts for health programmes for the local community, hospital patients and staff. One key programme is +Culture Shots, a week-long series of free events, bringing art and culture into the hospital environment.

As cultural leaders in Arts and Health, in 2012 we were recognised by the Royal Society for Public Health with two awards for outstanding and innovative contributions to Arts & Health research & practice. You can read more about the work of the partnership in our report below.

The Whitworth and Manchester Museum are also part of the University of Manchester. The University of Manchester was the first of the civic universities, furthering the frontiers of knowledge through research and teaching, but also contributing to the well-being of its region and wider society.

As a university, gallery and museum we have three overarching core goals:

  • World-class research
  • Outstanding learning and student experience
  • Social Responsibility


Known as two of the five University cultural assets they both receive core funding from the University and from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Together they form part of the Strategic Partnership between Manchester City Council and the University of Manchester. The Manchester Partnership, brings together three organisations – Manchester City Galleries, the Whitworth and Manchester Museum. They have NPO status and thus receive further funding from Arts Council England (ACE).

The Whitworth was founded in 1889 and is a publicly funded gallery and charity with a collection of nearly 60,000 artworks. Hosting events and exhibitions, there is something for everyone at the gallery. Since the £15m refurbishment opened in 2015, the gallery has won awards such as the ‘Winner of Visit England’s Gold Prize for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year 2016’ and ‘Winner of the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2015’.

The Whitworth is an art institute and park made collectively by the activity of it’s users and all its constituents, and this includes those that work and volunteer there. It is for people of all social classes and cultures to come and rub shoulders together and think the world anew. In working locally, we also connect internationally, with a vision to instil creativity, across borders, into all aspects of society. It is for the perpetual gratification of the people of Manchester.

We want to make art useful by promoting art as a tool for social change. We should address what is relevant in people’s lives, respond to the urgencies of our times and propose solutions to the issues around us.

We will promote Art and aesthetics for everyone. It lies at the heart of what makes us human, so our ambition is to transform the way art is seen, not as a luxury but a means to transform and represent what is around us.

The Whitworth is an activist so we will learn new ways of living with attitude and a creative spirit.

We are a public space and a resource for all. We are open, and a free space to gather or offer refuge – a house and garden for the city.

We are learning through doing through exhibitions, public programmes, research and collaborations we nurture the conditions to test out creative solutions with people and for societal benefit.


Manchester Museum was founded and the museum building opened to the public in 1890. It is home to collections of Archaeology, Anthropology and Natural History of up to 4.5 million artefacts stemming back to the original collection of Manchester manufacturer and collector, John Leigh Philips (1761-1814) . It’s the UK’s leading and largest University museum. It is a key source of academic teaching and research spanning a 127 year history. It serves as a major visitor attraction with over half a million people of all ages visiting every year to be inspired and learn.

As a university museum, Manchester Museum uses its international collection of human and natural history for enjoyment and inspiration, working with people from all backgrounds to provoke debate and reflection about the past, present and future of the earth and its inhabitants. This is our mission.

Our vision is that the Museum is ideally placed to encourage people to engage with some of the major issues of our time:

Promoting understanding between cultures

One of our major challenges is the way in which ignorance and misunderstanding can lead to intolerance and conflict. We will work to increase mutual understanding between cultures today, by placing them in a rounded context, and we will promote understanding of cultures of the past by showing their richness and influence.

Developing a sustainable world

Through the collections of both natural and human-made objects, the Museum can engage people in some of the major issues facing us in terms climate change and habitat loss. It is no longer sufficient for the Museum to show the world as classified and unchanging: – we must show it as dynamic and shaped by past and contemporary forces, many of which are human-made. In doing this, we will position ourselves as one of the leading university museums in the world, known for our innovative and campaigning approach.

hello future is the exciting, new £13 million project to transform and develop Manchester Museum, becoming more inclusive, imaginative, caring and relevant to the diverse communities they serve. Manchester Museum will become a source of inspiration for learning and an engine of civic engagement and social action. A commitment to care, not only for collections but people, ideas and relationships drives forward their civic purpose in relation to culture, health and social change.