Heart-to-Heart

Heart-to-Heart is a self-paced wellness program which transforms art museums into therapeutic environments. It aims to help visitors express and discover themselves through art and improve mental wellbeing. The first program is tailored to guide couples who have experienced pressure in their relationship while living together during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Transformative
STUDENTS INVOLVED
Kin Man Cammy Sha
ABOUT
V&A Museum
Transforming art museums into therapeutic environments
Heart-to-Heart is a self-paced wellness program which transforms art museums into therapeutic environments. It aims to help visitors express and discover themselves through art, improve mental wellbeing, learn how to appreciate art and build an emotional connection with museum objects. The first program is tailored to guide couples who have experienced pressure in their relationship while living together during the lockdown with three sessions- discovering their relationship’s strengths, having a relaxing conversation about their relationship and creating a common vision of the future. The participants will be guided by art therapists, art journals and audio guides to complete tasks in the museum.
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Discovery
I considered the V&A museum as a case study and designed a service that could fit all art & design museums. The following are some of the key insights that I captured from desk research and interviews. 1) The V&A museum’s main strategic objectives are strengthening storytelling with digital technology and inspiring young people’s self-expression. 2) People are now seeking more exciting and surprising experiences. Research has shown that young people prefer other types of experiences than visiting the museum during their free time. 3) There is a lack of personal connection between visitors and museum objects. Most of the infrequent visitors of the V&A museum consider themselves as outsiders to the art world. They do not know how to appreciate art and they do not feel the connection with art museums.

Art as therapy in museums

Art therapy is powerful in healing. It uses art media as its primary mode of communication. It is for self-expression and self-discovery for people of all ages and abilities. The potential of applying it in art museums in huge. First, museum objects can depict human experiences and symbolize the current or past experiences of visitors that people can see and relate to themselves easily. Second, as a cultural space, it is a safe environment to let people depart from everyday activities and express emotions. It also stimulates creativity for art-making, which can change visitors from passive viewers to self-expressive artists.

Focusing on young couples

As the first focus group of the therapeutic program at the V&A Museum, I decided to look at people who are emotionally affected by the recent lockdown. A lot of research proved that couples living together under lockdown are experiencing ‘growing unease’ in their relationship. Their problems are mainly magnifying existing issues which aroused conflicts and having arguments on adapting to each other's living habits. They need open and deep communication that enables them to feel comfortable to express themselves. They also need to seek common values, have positive interactions, maintain emotional attachment and build trust. Expanding the service, the museum can tailor other therapeutic programs to reach more audiences, for example, strengthening bonds between family members, coping with stress with colleagues or classmates, self-discovery of emotions for individuals and exploring body images with the fashion collection.
Healing journey
The healing journey is a Saturday program that lasts for around 4 hours. First, participants sign up on the official website to join the program. When they arrive at the V&A Museum, a welcome pack with all the materials they need during the program will be provided. Then, they will be gathered by a few art therapists to have a briefing. Since the main three sessions are self-paced with an audio guide in a mobile application, they need to know when they should seek guidance from art therapists who are on duty in the museum, for example, when they have arguments or questions. After the briefing, participants follow instructions on the audio guide and art journal to strengthen their relationship with 3 sessions- discovering their relationship’s strengths, having a relaxing conversation about the current state of the relationship and creating a common vision of the future. After that, they will talk to an art therapist who is on duty for a reflection at the end of the experience. The therapist will collect feedback, give them advice and evaluate if they need to visit a professional therapist. Please watch the following video to understand the tasks that participants need to complete along with the audio guide.
special thanks
I would like to thank my tutor David Eveleigh-Evans for all his support and mentoring.

students involved on the project

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