Health and Wellbeing

We believe museums can play an important role in helping alleviate social isolation and improving personal wellbeing.

Mental Health

Art Shed is an art course for people with low-level mental health issues that uses museum exhibits to inspire creativity and collaboration.

Meeting every two weeks in one of M Shed’s dockside studios, participants explore new artistic techniques in a relaxed and supportive environment. The course is open to those who have previously attended a prescribed arts for health course. If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible, do please get in touch.

Evaluation of Art Shed (formally known as Shine) by psychology students at UWE showed that participants feel more positive and energetic following a session.

‘Even when I’m feeling low I still want to get here and to do these things cos I know it’s going to help me. And it does perk me up at the end of the day.’ – participant

‘It’s been nice to be in a supportive space, meeting like-minded people in a creative setting.’ – participant

Dementia Friendly


We are working towards being a Dementia Friendly venue.

We’re currently running a Heritage Lottery Funded project. The funding is attached to the loan of a 15th Century painting St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child. This painting has major significance in an art history context and presents opportunities for the development of work with people living with Dementia: the domesticity of the scene, the material/textural quality of the objects and spaces depicted and the relationship between the figures.

The painting is simply a focus and starting point for a wider range of work specifically aimed at people with early stages of Dementia.

The main areas we are developing are:

  • Dementia Friendly Creative Cafés – these are pop-up cafes at the museum for people living with dementia and their carers and family members. We have run seven cafes since July 2018 and have been recruiting participants from across the city in collaboration with the charity Alive and the Dementia Wellbeing Service (North Bristol)
  • ArtBox – outreach work in carehomes/hospitals – including developing the use of story boxes/memory boxes/handling collections
  • Training staff and volunteers to deliver talks, walks, workshops in dementia friendly ways. Many museum staff have now completed Dementia Friends training.

There is also a particular focus on reaching older people with dementia in communities that may not currently be accessing museum and gallery sites, and to implementing changes that make the sites and collections more accessible.

Autism Friendly

We work with Bristol Autism Support to ensure our staff understand and can respond to the needs and expectations of families and individuals with autism. You can borrow a free ‘Little Bag of Calm’ from reception at M Shed and a visual guide to help plan a visit is now available.

Other projects

We’re looking to expand our wellbeing offer: we have a new dementia project in the pipeline and a new arts for health offer at Blaise Castle House Museum is in development.

We can help to arrange visits for groups who may face other barriers to visiting our sites. Please get in touch if you feel we can help your organisation or have any questions for us.