Lonely Planet Writer

Montréal doctors will be able to prescribe a museum visit to patients

Feeling a bit down or under the weather? It might be time for a trip to see some fine art.

The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, level 2 – The Napoleon Gallery. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo © Marc Cramer.

Doctors in Montréal, Canada will be able to write a prescription for a trip to the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal) as an addition to conventional treatment. Physicians who are a member of the organisation Médecins francophones du Canada will be able to issue 50 prescriptions to the museum starting on 1 November. That means patients, accompanied by family or caregivers, can enjoy the benefits of art on a free visit.

Le Pavillon pour la Paix Michal et Renata Hornstein, vue extérieure. Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. Photo © Marc Cramer.

This isn’t the museum’s first foray into the connection between art and wellness. The museum is home to the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy, an educational complex filled with health and art therapy programming for people of all ages. The museum has had researchers from a variety of institutions in Quebec study the beneficial aspects of visiting the museum and whether it is comparable to the benefits of physical exercise.

According to the museum, this is the first initiative of its kind in the world and is designed to assist people with physical and mental health problems. The program welcomes people into a relaxing and revitalising setting, where they can rest and even strengthen their connections with loved ones.

The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, level 1 – The Salons of the Belle Époque: Romanticism. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Photo © Marc Cramer.

“I am convinced that in the 21st century, culture will be what physical activity was for health in the 20th century. Cultural experiences will benefit health and wellness, just as engaging in sports contributes to fitness. Sceptics would do well to recall that just a hundred years ago, sports were believed to distort the body and threaten women’s fertility,” said Nathalie Bondil, director general and chief curator of the MMFA, said in a statement. The doctor’s association also notes that the program coincides with their efforts to recognize the “individuality and humanity” of patients.

If you want to experience the health benefits of the museum yourself, head there to see works from European masters like Rembrandt, Picasso and Monet, and an incredible collection of Canadian art.