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November 2, 2018 – Research on art, health and wellness is a rapidly growing field in Québec, with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) and the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in the lead. To explore this question, the two institutions will hold the first symposium on art, health and well-being on November 9, 2018. This event, which brings together experts and leaders in the field, will present Montreal research and invite a collective reflection on the contribution of art and culture to the health, recovery and well-being of individuals and communities.

The Symposium on Art, Health and Well-being is co-organized by Marilyn Lajeunesse, Educational Programmes Officer – Adults and Community Groups at the MMFA, and Mona Trudel, Professor of visual and media arts at UQAM.

The programme includes the presentation of preliminary results of research by a team of researchers from UQAM and doctors from CHUM and Hôpital Notre-Dame; as well as research work on the impact of art therapy on patients with digestive problems by an MMFA and Douglas Institute team.

The Director General and Chief Curator of the MMFA, Nathalie Bondil, and the Chief Scientist of Quebec, Rémi Quirion, explained: “When we look at the effects of art on health, we often mean just art therapy – a psychological and social approach that helps a patient express himself or herself through art. However, beyond this practice, the arts and cultural spaces can have medical usefulness and a definite impact on health, the healing process, and wellness. Documented by research, the list of the benefits of these transdisciplinary actions continues to grow: alleviation of symptoms related to treatment; effects on anxiety; reduction of sedative use by children; and improvement of mobility. Several Quebec and international studies support these claims of benefits.

“These health and wellness questions require an audacious, multiple and holistic approach. The arts are an element of this ecosystem of healing. The MMFA is distinguished by its co-creative partnerships with the university and hospital milieus to develop new healing practices (for digestive problems, geriatric issues, mental illness, Alzheimer’s, autism, convalescence…). It is the first museum with a resident art therapist. It works with doctors on location in pilot projects. Joining health and science with the field of the arts, and encouraging an interdisciplinary dialogue is our objective. Welcome to the first Symposium on Art, Health and Well-being!”

For the Rector of UQAM, Magda Fusaro: “This symposium, in collaboration with the MMFA, admirably matches UQAM’s value statement regarding the community and the intervention of its professors and researchers in the social and community milieus. In the current context, the works and the results presented here address the phenomenon of exclusion of marginalized people and reiterate the idea that their re-establishment, their inclusion and their social reinsertion need recourse to partners and close collaborations between disciplines. They may seem unrelated, but when harmonized in a complementary vision they can bring exceptional potential to deal with complex problems that cannot be resolved without a range of approaches.

The symposium will be attended by: Kim Archambault, Psycho-educator and Research Associate, CHU Sainte-Justine; Adriana de Oliveira, Professor of  visual and media arts at UQAM; Dr. Olivier Farmer, Psychiatrist, head of the psychiatry department at Hôpital Notre-Dame (CIUSSS Centre-Sud); Sylvie Fortin, Professor in the dance department of UQAM; Dr. Patricia Garel, Psychiatrist, CHU Sainte-Justine; Dr. Didier Jutras-Aswad, Researcher and Psychiatrist, CHUM, Associate Professor of clinical medicine, department of psychiatry and addictology, Université de Montréal; Carole Marceau, Professor in the UQAM drama department; and Jérémie Paré-Julien, Museum Mediator, MMFA.
Click here for the full programme.

Date: Friday, November 9, 2018, from 9 :30 a.m.
Place: Maxwell Cummings Auditorium, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1379 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal

The MMFA, pioneer and major player in the field of wellness through art
For nearly 20 years with the Sharing the Museum socio-community programme, and particularly since 2012 with the Michel de la Chenelière International Studio for Education and Art Therapy, which was enlarged in 2016 with the International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy, the MMFA has sought to be a laboratory for action on art and wellness. Through its pilot projects and partnerships, the MMFA wishes to contribute to the scientific measurement of the effects of art on health.

The MMFA is currently participating in 10 clinical studies supervised by its Art and Health Advisory Committee, chaired by Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Quebec. Created in 2017 at the initiative of Nathalie Bondil, this committee is composed of 16 experts in the fields of health, art therapy, research, arts and philanthropy.

The Museum’s Education and Wellness Division has a full-time art therapist (a first for any museum) in its Art Hive created in 2017. It set up new programmes developed in situ in collaboration with doctors, university researchers at Concordia, McGill, UQAM and the Université de Montréal, as well as professionals in the hospital milieu. Recently, the MMFA launched a pilot project, the MMFA-MFdC Museum Prescriptions programmePrescriptions programme, in collaboration with the Association des Médecins francophones du Canada.

UQAM, art and health

For UQAM, the contribution of art to health represents a niche for intervention and a unique expertise for research in individual and collective well-being.

The artists and researcher-creators are conducting several projects in the field with varied populations, most often in collaboration with the medical milieu as well as professionals and scientists from various fields. The research focuses on the place of art in health, the accompaniment of sick people with art, the prevention of injuries related to bad posture in dance and music, the design of ergonomic furniture, art and physical exercise, music therapy as well as the representation of the normal and pathological body.

Art and culture are special places for experimentation with the devices, materials, and postures, and for research on creation, intervention and action that allows for a renewal of approaches and practices and a deepening of knowledge in both art and health.

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Journalists wishing to attend the symposium can reserve their place by contacting the people named below. Places are limited.


Julie Meunier
Media Relations Advisor
T. 514 987-3000, ext. 1707

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Maude N. Béland
Media Relations Officer
T. 514-285-1600, ext. 205
C. 514-886-8328

About the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Boasting more than 1.3 million visitors annually, the MMFA is one of Canada’s most visited museums and the eighth-most visited museum in North America. The Museum’s original temporary exhibitions combine various artistic disciplines – fine arts, music, film, fashion and design – and are exported around the world. Its rich encyclopedic collection, distributed among five pavilions, includes international art, world cultures, decorative arts and design, and Quebec and Canadian art. The Museum has seen exceptional growth in recent years with the addition of two new pavilions: the Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion, in 2011, and the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace, in 2016. The MMFA complex also includes Bourgie Hall, a 460-seat concert hall, as well as an auditorium and a movie theatre. The MMFA is one of Canada’s leading publishers of art books in French and English, which are distributed internationally. The Museum also houses the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy, the largest educational complex in a North American art museum, enabling the MMFA to offer innovative educational, wellness and art therapy

About UQAM
Creative, open and dynamic, the l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) is a leading university with an international reputation. The originality and the features of its 300 programmes, its research activities anchored in social concerns and its creative innovations have built its reputation. Located in downtown Montreal, UQAM has more than 42,000 students.

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