Museums make you happier and less lonely, studies find

Mar 26, 2014

Photo by neiljs on Flickr

One of the greatest things about freelancing is that although we’re often very busy, we can choose to be “off” during 9-5 hours. This means that we can visit uncrowded museums and attend other midday events, which are often hellish on the weekends.

Here are 6 reasons you should take a long lunch tomorrow and head off to your local museum:

1. Museums make you less anxious: A study out of the Norweigan University for Science and Technology found that an appreciation of culture and the arts can lower your risk of anxiety and depression. (The study actually found that men benefit from watching or looking at cultural activities more than women do.)

2. Museums reduce stress: Museums “provide a restorative environment for people where they can relax and unwind,” according to a report by Jan Packer of the California Academy of Sciences.

3. Museums have the same effect on your well-being as a raise: If you were to value visiting a museum in dollars, frequent museum visits increase your well-being to the same degree as making an additional $5,301, according to a 2013 study out of the London School of Economics.

4. Museums have a greater impact on well-being as playing a sport, the same report found.

5. Museums make you less lonely: A Senior Lecturer in Biology at University College London found that museums are especially effective among traditionally marginalized, isolated people, like the elderly and unemployed. Museums often also serve as community centers for gatherings such as low-cost classes, community art shows, and other forms of arts education.

6. Museums are good for the economy: Your support for your local museum allows them to grow and attracts tourists to your community. The American Alliance of Museums estimates that museums contribute $21 billion to the economy each year, much of it going to small businesses in the areas around the museum. “Visitors to historic sites and cultural attractions, including museums, stay 53% longer and spend 36% more money than other kinds of tourists,” they say.

Say thanks! Tweet your favorite or local museum now: “Thank you, museums [or @mention your local museum], for supporting our communities and making us all happier!”

Click this button to tweet:


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