Museum, Innovation, Neurosciences: Effects of and Reactions to the Value of Art

Art and well being:

Visiting museums, enjoying art, is it good for you? The World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health and Service Evaluation at the University of Verona, one of the three WHO centers in Italy, and Palazzo Maffei Casa Museo initiate one of the first studies on the positive effects of the museum experience on psychological well-being.

A field test: in this case, the exhibition rooms of a museum; a scientific project – soon to be launched in Verona – that can contribute to providing evidence on the positive effects of artistic experience and cultural activities on the mental health of individuals and the population.

Psychological well-being is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an integral and indispensable part of individual health, with particular attention not only to the treatment of diseases but also to health promotion and disease prevention.

An increasing number of studies suggest that artistic and cultural activities can be important in promoting mental health and well-being, both at the individual and collective levels.

In light of this evidence, the MINERVA project is born thanks to the collaboration between Palazzo Maffei Casa Museo, founded in Verona from the private collection of the Carlon Foundation with over 650 works, and the WHO Center for Mental Health Research at the University of Verona.

The project aims to create a cultural path within a museum setting and to evaluate the impact that artistic experience, especially museum experience, can have on improving psychological well-being, anxiety-depressive symptomatology, and general functioning.

The MINERVA project – which will start in a pilot phase on May 27 and then be offered continuously – involves a structured cultural path in 3 guided tours on a weekly basis, each lasting less than an hour during which participants will be guided by an art historian within the Museum to the artistic enjoyment of the exhibited masterpieces. Each guided tour will differ from the previous one in the themes examined, focusing participants’ attention and curiosity on the varied facets that make-up the Collection.

The project’s leaders are Professor Michela Nosè, Professor of Psychiatry and Chair of the University of Verona’s Single Guarantee Committee, Professor Corrado Barbui, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine, and Movement, and Vanessa Carlon, Director of Palazzo Maffei Casa Museo and Vice President of the Carlon Foundation, Verona.

The objective of each visit is to convey the double soul of the exhibition path through the dialogue between ancient and modern, the care put into the collection and exhibition, the museographic structure, and the variety of perspectives with which to view the same work, and will be structured as follows:

1st guided tour

2nd guided tour

3rd guided tour

The collaboration with Palazzo Maffei Casa Museo and the WHO Center at the University of Verona is particularly important for us – explains Prof. Michela Nosè – because it responds to the need to promote new paths for the promotion of psychological well-being, and evaluate its effectiveness. The Minerva project aims to offer the community a museum path, with an evaluation of psychological well-being before and after the path, precisely to understand how, in which areas and on which symptoms there may be an impact and what factors may be associated with its implementation and effectiveness, and then create the necessary local conditions for the implementation and dissemination of the project.

Fostering and being involved in medical-scientific research on the positive effects of artistic and cultural enjoyment – commented Vanessa Carlon, Director of Palazzo Maffei Casa Museo – is fundamental for an art and culture venue that also believes in the social function of museum realities. Research in this field has reached a crucial point, to develop therapeutic programs and induce positive behavioral practices and habits in the community, so we are really happy to be at the forefront with a pilot project, with the University of Verona which is the seat of the WHO Center for Mental Health and researchers of such high profile, which we hope will yield significant results.”

Participation in the guided tours is free and open to the adult population upon registration, ensuring attendance at all three meetings (for the pilot phase the number of participants is limited; registration can be requested by sending an email to: giulia.turrini@univr.it).

Participants will be invited to complete standardized questionnaires at the beginning of the first visit and at the end of the last one to assess psychological well-being, anxiety-depressive symptomatology, and general functioning, and the data collected will then be analyzed anonymously. It is estimated that the first results of the research will be disseminated and published in the scientific field by the end of June / early July, to then allow the structuring of a more articulated project.

Schedule of guided tours for the pilot phase of the MINERVA project:

➢ 1st guided tour: Monday, May 27th from 3-4 PM

ANCIENT AND CONTEMPORARY: A CONTINUOUS DIALOGUE: The Palazzo Maffei Collection presents a dual soul thanks to the eclecticism of a collection grown without chronological and gender limits and by the private collector’s passion. The first visit aims to welcome and accompany participants in the kaleidoscopic journey between ancient and contemporary, translating the dialogues on which the juxtapositions between different eras and styles are based. Through the approach and decoding of the main works and their exhibition reasons, we want to allow the understanding of the Collection, between masterpieces and curiosities.

➢ 2nd guided tour: Monday, June 3rd from 3-4 PM

THE HIDDEN SCIENCE IN ART: The hidden science in art is a visit aimed at revealing the close connection between scientific and humanistic reality. Not opposite poles, but transversal disciplines linked by mutual interdependence: through the Palazzo Maffei Collection, we want to ignite an interest in both worlds, demonstrating how behind artistic aesthetics there is also scientific research.

➢ 3rd guided tour: Monday, June 10th from 3-4 PM

ART AND PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING: A CONNECTION WITH THE WORKS: As the last visit, a journey to discover the most intimate and spiritual value of art is proposed, revealing how artistic potential, in addition to its aesthetic pleasantness, transmits deep stimuli in favor of psychological well-being. According to Kandinsky’s vision, the observer must learn to look at the image as a graphic representation of a state of mind. The journey focuses on the relationship between individual and collective Well Being and the function of the Museum.

After the pilot phase, the project will continue in the autumn. We will keep you updated on dates and registration methods.

Read the article from UNIVR magazine here: link to the article