Doctors to prescribe visits to Montreal art museum in pioneering project

MONTREAL — Doctors in Montreal will soon be writing prescriptions that send patients to the art gallery instead of the pharmacy under a partnership with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

The program, described as a first in Canada, will allow members of a Montreal-based medical association representing francophone physicians to prescribe museum visits.

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"Based on a global approach to health, the museum prescription program coincides perfectly with our commitment to recognizing the individuality and humanity of our patients," said Diane Poirier, an intensive-care physician who is president of Medecins francophones du Canada.

"This is an innovative pilot project that we hope will spread across the country."

Beginning Nov. 1, association members will be able to issue up to 50 prescriptions granting admission to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for a family of four.

"I am convinced that in the 21st century, culture will be what physical activity was for health in the 20th century," Nathalie Bondil, the museum's director general and chief curator, said.

"Cultural experiences will benefit health and wellness, just as engaging in sports contributes to fitness."

The museum is already involved in 10 clinical trials assessing the impact of art on health. It is looking to help a broad range of patients, including people with eating disorders, breast cancer, epilepsy, mental illness and Alzheimer's disease.

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