Five Questions for… Wendy Gallagher

In this week’s contribution to our regular series introducing MedHumLab members, Wendy Gallagher, Arts & Health Partnership Manager at The Whitworth and Manchester Museum, talks about all things ‘museums, health and wellbeing’.

Wendy Gallagher, Arts & Health Manager at The Whitworth and Manchester Museum

Wendy Gallagher, Arts & Health Partnership Manager at The Whitworth and Manchester Museum

What does your role as Arts & Health Partnership Manager at The Whitworth and Manchester Museum entail? Can you describe what ‘a typical day at the office’ looks like for you?

My working days are always varied as I work in museum and gallery, clinical and community settings at local, regional, national and international levels.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Health & Culture partnership between Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester Museum, Manchester Art Gallery and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust? What kinds of events and initiatives does it support?

The partnership began in earnest in 2008, with a regional research programme of arts and health activities called Who Cares? Museums, health and wellbeing. We have a long and successful history of working with local communities, such as users of community centres in surrounding wards, older people in residential and care homes, and adults with mental health problems. We provide activities and events for all ages from Parents to Be to Coffee, Cake & Culture: a programme for people living with dementia and their carers.

ArtMED is a collaborative programme between the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, the Faculty of Humanities, the Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Museum. The programme involves students and professionals from medical and healthcare backgrounds visiting the museums in small groups to explore works of art and objects in relation to areas of their curriculum or professional specialisms. They also undertake object based lectures in relation to biomedical research, ethics, law and human rights. The ArtMED programme encourages the development of visual literacy for a group of students and professionals whose observational skills will be essential in their future medical and nursing careers. At a deeper level, a visit to the Museum broadens their awareness of the value of culture, enriching their understanding of the world in which we live. The visit demystifies the Museum and affirms the potential for arts and heritage to intersect with the medical world.

‘Museums and wellbeing’ seems to be a burgeoning field of engagement and research. How does your work fit within this wider context?

Arts for health programmes and initiatives are being rolled out in museums and galleries in a number of countries, with networks and partnerships developing between museums and galleries and the health care sector. As we continue to strive to improve access to our collections and provide programmes that promote wellbeing through engagement, evidence is beginning to emerge of the benefits that participation in cultural activities can have for people’s health, wellbeing and quality of life. We know that museums and art galleries are full of objects and artworks of historical, social and personal significance and have developed programmes and resources to engage a wide range of audiences who may not traditionally have visited us. In 2012 the Whitworth Art Gallery and Manchester Museum were recognised by the Royal Society for Public Health with two awards for outstanding and innovative contributions to arts and health research and practice.

How would you define the term ‘medical humanities’?

I would define the medical humanities very loosely as the use of arts and humanities within the medical curriculum.

And finally, how do you relax and unwind away from the office?

I’m learning to play the guitar, and I spend a lot of my free time socialising and travelling with friends. I also like long walks with my border terrier and regular glasses of good red wine.

Culture Shots Museums and Galleries Week 2016

Culture Shots 2016 is here!

Culture Shots is a week-long series of events based in hospital environments which are run by museums and galleries.

Culture Shots 2016 is running from Monday 18th July – Friday 22nd July. Click on the link below for the complete programme…

Culture Shots 2016 Programme


Culture Shots is designed to give you the opportunity to see how culture can enhance the health and well-being of health and social care professionals as well as their patients and families.

Here is a taster of one of the programmes on offer…

Culture Shots Printing Competition with Artist in residence Alan Birch

Alan has created a series of hand coloured prints depicting later-day saints; these first appeared at the John Rylands Library in Manchester in 2015.

Inspired by the medical saints found in the Welcome Collection, the 52 prints bring saints into the 21st century. Alan’s humorous saints reflect individuals’ obsession with contemporary technology, fashion and consumerism.

As part of our +Culture Shots 2016 programme Alan will be in residence in hospitals. Staff, patients and visitors to the hospital are invited to view the later-day saint prints and to meet Alan and chat about his work.


If you want to see more of Alan’s work, click here.

Create Your Own Saint

Packs of materials will also be available and you will be invited to create your own engraving of a saint. Alan will then make you two prints from your engraving. You can either use inspiration from personal or observed obsessions and behaviour or transform an image from an earlier time.

Drop by during any of our sessions:

Thursday 26 May 9am – 12pm @ Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (Atrium)
Tuesday 21 June 10am – 1pm @ Trafford General Hospital (Main Entrance)
Monday 18 July 9am – 3pm @ Manchester Royal Eye Hospital (Atrium)
Tuesday 19 July 9am – 3pm @ Manchester Royal Infirmary (Atrium)
Wednesday 20 July 9am – 3pm @ Trafford General Hospital
Thursday 21 July 9am – 5pm @ Trafford General Hospital
Friday 22 July 10am – 3pm @ Whitworth Art Gallery (Grand Hall)
Tuesday 2 August 1pm – 4pm @ Trafford General Hospital
Thursday 4 August 10am – 1pm @ Manchester Royal Infirmary (Atrium)

A partnership between Manchester Museum, The Whitworth, Manchester Art Gallery, and Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust