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University of the Arts London

Creative solutions: What can art and design pedagogy bring to social prescribing programmes?


This case study describes the contribution made by the Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection (UAL) to the Museums on Prescription research project, which explores the value and role of museums in ‘social prescribing’. A means of connecting patients with non-medical resources, socially prescribed activities are a low-cost alternative to medication or therapy, offering opportunities to take part in creative, physical or learning activities that improve physical or mental well-being. This article argues that the pedagogic approaches used in art and design, particularly when coupled with a museological approach to ‘object-based learning’ (Paris, 2002), present an ideal basis for social prescribing as the activities it involves challenge participants, encourage self-reflection and create opportunities for emotional engagement.


object-based learning, social prescribing, museology, wellbeing.


Author Biography

Judy Willcocks

Judy Willcocks is Head of the Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection (UAL) and an Associate of the Museums Association with twenty years’ experience of working in museums. She has a long-standing interest in developing the use of museum collections to support teaching and learning in higher education and teaches an archiving unit for Central Saint Martins’ MA in Culture, Criticism and Curation. Judy is also interested in developing relationships between universities and museums in the broader sense and is the co-founder for the Arts Council funded Share Academy project, exploring the possibilities of cross-sector partnerships. 


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