Museum visits to counter the social isolation of older adults


February 18, 2022

Researchers & Collaborators:

Kim Sawchuk, Concordia University
Constance Lafontaine, Concordia University
Jacqueline Matskiv, Concordia University
Jacqueline Matskiv, Centre de Recherche de l’Institut de Gériatrie de Montréal (CRIUGM)
Albane Gaudissart, Concordia University
Marie-Ève Ducharme, Concordia University
Andrea Tremblay, Concordia University
Olivier Beauchet, CRIUGM
Kevin Galery, CRIUGM
Nancy Couture, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT)
Jean-Marc Fontan, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
Annie-Hélène Samson, Dawson College
Linda Goosens, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Mélanie Deveault, Directrice de l’éducation et du mieux-être



Research Areas:

Social Isolation
Artistic Interventions
Visual arts programming

ACT Partners:

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Between 2019 and 2023, the ACT lab collaborated 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.

The ACT lab led 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.

Relevant publication :

Lafontaine, C., Sawchuk, K., Virtual Museum Visits in a Pandemic: Older Adults Discuss Experiences of Art, Culture and Social Connection. Human Aspects of IT for the Aged Population. Technology in Everyday Living: 8th International Conference, ITAP 2022, Pages 383–397

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