Since 2019, the ACT lab has been collaborating with Dr. Olivier Beauchet and his team at the Montreal Geriatric Institute (CRIUGM) on a study examining the health effects of guided museum visits intended for socially-isolated older adults. Funded by the FRQSC and realized in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA), the study aims to demonstrate—using both quantitative and qualitative methods—the positive effects of participatory museum visits on seniors’ health, social inclusion, well-being and quality of life. This comprised 3 12-week cycles of museum visits, two of which were delivered in a virtual format during the pandemic.
Since 2019, the ACT lab has been leading the qualitative portion of the project, analyzing participants’ subjective, social and collective experiences of the museum visits, with a particular focus on the connections they helped foster (social and otherwise). Following the shift to an online format, we also queried participants on the implications of this transition and its perceived advantages and disadvantages. Our findings attest to the potential of guided museum visits as an educational, social and cultural activity intended to combat social isolation, while pointing to the ongoing relevance of virtual/hybrid arts programming in a post-pandemic world.