Museums: Changing lives through art: evaluation of a partnership project May 2016-April 2019

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
Ryan M

Year of Publication:

The Holburne Museum

Publication Type:


This report is an independent evaluation of Pathways to Wellbeing Phase 1 (2016-19), a museum-based community engagement programme, led by the Holburne Museum, with art at its heart. The Pathways to Wellbeing project is a partnership in Bath between the Holburne Museum, Bath Preservation Trust and the American Museum & Gardens.

Pathways to Wellbeing supports people with lived experience of mental health issues, social isolation and homelessness to engage with local heritage and creative art activities, delivering measurable improvements in mental health and wellbeing. The 3 year project was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, and was originally supported by Arts Council England.

The programme was made up of four key projects, all of which were free to participants: Gardener’s Lodge Art Group (GLAG), a supported museum-based art group working on creative projects with professional artists; Peer-led Museums Group (IMAGE), progression group for GLAG participants but open to others; Fresh [email protected], entry level creative group for local people in the first stages of recovery supported by a mental health worker; and Discover Museums: Pathways to Volunteering course for vulnerable adults (particularly longterm unemployed) to experience volunteering and ways of engaging the general public with museum collections, supported by trained museum mentors.

Through the four Pathways to Wellbeing the programme supports participants to: create and exhibit pieces of artwork inspired by museum collections and exhibitions; develop their skills and confidence through a mentored volunteer induction programme; work with museums to develop interpretation tools, public engagement activities and events; have a ‘voice’ within museums.

The evaluation found that participants in Pathways to Wellbeing reported improved mental wellbeing: feeling more confident, doing more, having places to go and new interests, and feeling included. 80% of participants reported an improvement in wellbeing as a result of the sessions. 90% of participants who identified loneliness as a reason for attending the groups reported feeling less lonely and isolated as a result of the programme.

Evidence Type: Case Study

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Outcome Evaluation

Context: Community

Participant Group: Adults

Art Forms: Museums

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Ryan M. (2019). Museums: Changing lives through art: evaluation of a partnership project May 2016-April 2019. Bath: The Holburne Museum.