The Happy Museum Project wants museums to play an active part in a sustainable future, by fostering wellbeing that doesn’t cost the Earth. So it’s helpful to have the proof that museums do make you happy, in the form of a report from ‘Happiness Economist’ Daniel Fujiwara of the London School of Economics.
Happy Museum used funding from the Arts Council to commission the analysis. It follows two years of action-research with twelve museums commissioned to develop wellbeing that’s fair on people and planet. The findings show that museums improve people’s happiness and perception of good health, even after you’ve accounted for other factors that might be influencing them. The report shows that people value visiting museums at over £3,000 per year.
As a result, the analysis concludes that it is crucial to make sure more people can visit museums and it learnt that the biggest reason people don’t is that they were not taken to museums by a parent as a child. Those people are 17% less likely to visit than others, a much bigger effect than say, being from a low-income group. The people who are most likely to visit museums are the more educated, and price and accessibility are important too.
Measuring what matters is a core principle for the Happy Museum Project. The director Tony Butler says, “counting visitors tells us nothing about quality, or wellbeing. Museums are adept at storytelling, but we wanted the longitudinal or quantitative evidence that might influence policy makers”.
To read and download Fujiwara’s full report – Museums and Happiness – see below.