Museum Objects, Health and Healing : The Relationship between Exhibitions and Wellness book cover
1st Edition

Museum Objects, Health and Healing
The Relationship between Exhibitions and Wellness

ISBN 9781032088327
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
232 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Museum Objects, Health and Healing provides an innovative and interdisciplinary study of the relationship between objects, health and healing. Shedding light on the primacy of the human need for relationships with objects, the book explores what kind of implications these relationships might have on the exhibition experience.

Merging museum and object studies, as well as psychotherapy and the psychology of well-being, the authors present a new theory entitled Psychotherapeutic Object Dynamics, which provides a cross- disciplinary study of the relationship between objects, health and well-being. Drawing on primary research in museums, psychotherapeutic settings and professional practice throughout the US, Canada, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the UK, the book provides an overview of the theory’s origins, the breadth of its practical applications on a global level, and a framework for further understanding the potency of objects in exhibitions and daily life.

Museum Objects, Health and Healing will be essential reading for academics, researchers and postgraduate students interested in museum studies, material culture, mental health, psychotherapy, art therapies and anthropology. It should also be valuable reading for a wide range of practitioners, including curators, exhibition designers, psychologists, and psychotherapists.

Table of Contents


Part I Our Primal Dialogue with Objects

1. Ordinary Portents 

2. Object Scholars and the Literature

3. The Power of Objects

Part II The Theory of Psychotherapeutic Object Dynamics

4. Origin of the Theory: Brenda Cowan

5. The Theory and Framework

Part III Therapeutic Object Practices in Clinical and Educational Settings

6. The Wilderness Within: Jason McKeown

7. Creativity and the True Teacher: Ross Laird

Part IV Health and Healing in the Museum Setting

8. Seeing Through a New Lens: the Empirical Research

9. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum

10. The War Childhood Museum

11. The Derby Museum and Art Gallery

12. The Museum @ FIT

Part V Implications for Museums

13. The Museum—Wellness Connection

14. Working with Trauma, Grief, and Related Challenges


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Brenda Cowan is Associate Professor in the Exhibition and Experience Design Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York in the USA.

Ross Laird is an independent author, scholar, and clinical consultant in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Jason McKeown is a Marriage and Family Therapist, Parenting Educator, Clinical Program Consultant, and an Adjunct Instructor at Lenior-Rhyne University, Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville, North Carolina.