Manchester Art Gallery

The Mindful Museum

What is the Mindful Museum?

Engage with art and improve wellbeing using mindfulness

Over the past four years we’ve developed mindfulness activities across our learning programmes with a range of audiences, exploring just how this valuable skill can be employed in the appreciation of art.

In this way, we have helped people to engage more fully with our permanent collection as well as with our special exhibitions. In encountering familiar works as well as art that is entirely new to them, participants have been able to reflect upon the importance of their own mental health.

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Close up of a painting surface


What is mindfulness?

Paying attention in a particular way in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Paying attention, noticing what’s happening, observing, witnessing

In a particular way, by engaging your senses, noticing your breath or any physical sensations happening in the body e.g. areas of tension or tingling, tiredness or temperature

In the present moment, in the here and now

Non-judgementally, doing all of this with an attitude of friendly curiosity. And a sense of compassion, for yourself and other people too. Not judging harshly or criticising too much.

Is that it?

Yes, in simple terms. But there’s lots of other interesting things about mindfulness.

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Antony Gormley, Filter

Thinking of working with mindfulness?

Continued Professional Development for museums and gallery professionals

We deliver a Continued Professional Development day here at Manchester Art Gallery for other museum and gallery professionals who would like to learn more about mindfulness and how to integrate it across their learning programmes.

The Mindful Museum day demonstrates just some of the ways we’ve used mindfulness to help people engage with art and improve their wellbeing.

Over the course of the day, you’ll learn more about mindfulness and some evidence-based theories, experience for yourself some mindful activities using our collections and have the opportunity to think about how you might apply it in your work. Led by the gallery’s Health and Wellbeing Manager Louise Thompson and mindfulness teacher, artist and NHS mental health professional Cathy Fortune.


Fee: £150 per person

Additional discounts are available if more than one person from an cultural organisation attends.

To book please contact Louise Thompson, Health and Wellbeing Manager on


What our visitors say

Take notice: art and mindfulness

At its best, it reminds us that we are good enough as we are.

Art meets medicine

…even though the gallery space was alive with people, the atmosphere was tranquil and they were able to switch off from the outside world.

Mindful marks: the participant’s voice

For me, these sessions consistently have a positive influence on my state of mind.

The Art of Looking: exploring mindfulness with Year 6s and Van Dyck

…when the year 6s minds began to drift it was a physical thing. First the eyes wandering around the room, then a turn of the head, shortly followed by the body, until they were turned around looking at me!