The National Museum of Mental Health Project researches the use of exhibits to transform society's attitudes about,

and understanding of, mental health. 

The Project seeks to:

  • Share research related to exhibits about mental health and wellness. 

  • Facilitate collaboration among artists, curators, exhibit designers, mental health professionals, people with lived experience, and others who seek to share knowledge.

  • Inspire the development of a national museum of mental health that is a museum-without-walls. This may take the form of a new nonprofit entity, or emerge organically from vigorous collaboration and sharing of know-how.

 

The Project extends from a research fellowship at Assumption College. 

Site Created by Designer Kate Kruzick 

FAQs:

Has this research been communicated through other channels, or presented elsewhere? 

Yes. In November 2018, aspects of this research were presented at the annual conferences of the New England Psychological Association and the New England Museum Association. Working in conjunction with Dr. Adam Volungis of Assumption College, an academic poster was developed for these presentations. Highlights of this research have also been published in newspaper opinion editorials which have appeared in Northeast and Midwest newspapers, such as the Des Moines Register and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. An academic journal article is in development.

 

Is the National Museum of Mental Health Project a museum?

No. A museum is a collection of exhibitions, exhibits, artifacts, etc. The National Museum of Mental Health Project is a communication effort whose goals are described at the bottom of this page. 

Why is a communication effort needed for this research?

While individual exhibits about mental health have received some media attention, our research has found little, if any, recognition that exhibits about mental health represent an emerging national trend. The National Museum of Mental Health Project seeks to call attention to this trend in an effort to encourage collaboration. 

Similarly, our research has found little, if any, academic investigation of this trend, and the Project seeks to encourage the development of a research community focused upon exhibits about mental health. This research involves aspects of museum studies, business, psychology, public health, and other fields. Like all other interdisciplinary research, it faces the challenge of finding conference and publication venues that can expose this topic to an array of researchers across varied academic disciplines.

What Inspires this Research?

Mental illness is real. It is also treatable and sometimes preventable. It takes knowledge to make this happen. Not only knowledge, but formation of empathy and self-identity. Exhibitions about mental health show significant potential to guide visitors to learn, multi-dimensionally, about mental illness and wellness. 

This research has been inspired by the belief that all human-beings have human dignity. This means that all people have the right to be respected by others, including consideration of someone’s mental well-being. Breaking the stigma on mental illness and encouraging positive mental well-being forwards society to improve quality of life for all.

 

Are the organizations whose exhibits are profiled on this website affiliated with the National Museum of Mental Health Project?

No. In all cases, research interviews and discussions have taken place with the organizations and people who have developed and/or curated these exhibits. Their exhibits and their work is their own. Links are provided on this website to information about their organizations and exhibits. Only in situations where permission has been specifically granted is the contact information for individual developers, curators, etc. listed on this site.

What is a museum-without-walls?

For the purposes of our research, we use the term museum-without-walls to refer to a collection of exhibitions, exhibits, artifacts, etc. whose display venues are primarily outside of one physical building or location. Also referred to as a “distributed museum,” this museum business model involves distributing and rotating a collection of exhibits to local museums, public spaces, libraries, colleges, and other venues where display space is available closer to the audience for whom the exhibition are relevant.

A museum-without-walls avoids the sizable, fixed investments that relate to the construction and maintenance of a physical museum. Similarly, a museum-without-walls avoids the challenge that most museums encounter of needing to attract visitors to its location. Instead, and in essence, a museum-without-walls brings the museum to the visitor.