Why Art is good for the soul {in collaboration with National Art Pass}

Dulwich Picture Gallery (free admission with the National Art Pass). Photographs: Christopher O’Donnell.

If ever there was an answer I was destined to find out, this was probably it. I love London for its abundance of galleries and museums but even I admit that finding time to squeeze them all in is hard.

But what if it proved to be good for your health? Just taking even just 30 minutes out of our hectic schedules can be so helpful to our wellbeing. Absorbing some culture, freeing your mind of all the meetings/technology/after-school club planning which dictate our daily grind.

Edward Burne-Jones exhibition at Tate Britain (50% discount off exhibitions with the National Art Pass).

The National Art Pass allows free entry to an array of museums, galleries and historic houses across the country as well as 50% off major exhibitions as well as helping raise important funds to keep providing Art to share with the nation.

When approached for this project, I jumped at the chance to visit four places and was extremely excited by the ‘Art Map’ which comes with the pass – I immediately flicked through and added notes on all the places on my wish list. At first I’d do London but with hundreds of location all over England (starting at £67, the pass gives you free or reduced entry to over 320 venues across the UK), I knew this list would grow.

Charles Dickens’s House (free entry with the National Art Pass).

But then suddenly, work got in the way and I was finding it increasingly difficult to fit in time to finish all I needed to, catch up with friends, do some ‘stress-free museum going’ and still get Peggy to bed by 6pm…

But I did squeeze it in and it was wonderful. Instead of planning whole days out, we fitted it around other plans – and as most of the venues are free entry with the card, it didn’t matter if we didn’t spend the entire day at a museum – we could always go back.

The Charles Dickens Museum was somewhere I had always passed but never been inside, and I often work so close! So we decided to meet as a family after a work meeting and spend an hour walking round. It’s quite small so it doesn’t take very long, but it was wonderful. Like stepping back in time, and the staff were so knowledgeable – I would recommend going near Christmas if you get the chance, as the tree and decorations were up and it was splendid walking around his home (and afterwards, try and watch ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’ on Netflix to compare the set!). I didn’t look at my phone the entire time and when we left it was as if I had taken a whole afternoon off, I felt lighter and happier all at once.

It goes without saying there was a lot of Victorian interiors inspo there, too…

We planned a blog shoot in Camden to coincide with The Jewish Museum – again, somewhere I had always wanted to visit due to my Jewish heritage (my great grandmother was Jewish through my mother’s side), organised a lunch followed by Tate Britain with my parents and met a friend for brunch at the cafe of Dulwich Picture Gallery before wandering the vast and beautiful rooms of Art.

Research has shown that visiting museums and galleries can help destress from busy lives and I can 100% vouch for it. Even during moments of stress, as soon as I was at a gallery taking in culture, it melted away and I felt a real sense of calm.

So I recommend you to try (if you can) to take a deep breath and arrange a trip, take time for yourself (and kids if you have) and try out this untapped wellbeing resource. We are so lucky in this country to have access to such wonderful cultural experiences, and I am vowing to see more.

The Jewish Museum London (free entry with the National Art Pass).

Next time, we are looking further afield and will try and combine a country retreat. It’s a pretty perfect excuse to plan a mini-break if you ask me.

This post was in partnership with Art Fund and National Art Pass, a project which I loved being part of.

8 Comments

  1. I love visiting museums/galleries. You can turn back time and step back from the fast ahead speed of everyday life. Next time we are in London I will try to find time to visit Charles Dickens home (I have already watched the film). Thank you for this insight.

  2. Hi Alex, you remain ethical, honest, inspiring yet grounded. I’m always in awe of all you achieve & stand for. A woman for our day. Peggy is going to be so proud of her Mum.
    I love this Arts pass post & all ur Xmas gift ideas esp the charitable donations one.
    Yet still so stylish.
    On a lighter note- can’t find info about the cream shearling biker style jacket worn with the pink cardy in this shoot. I love the fluffy jackets but they all drown me. This one manages to look neat. Or maybe that’s just on you! I wud be grateful to know where u bought it if you have time,
    Many thanks, Paddy

    1. Hi Paddy – thank you so much, it was lovely to take out as a family and class it as work! That’s what it’s all about, and thank you I’ve loved doing the gift guides this year.
      So the shearling biker was from H&M but last year sadly, yes it is one of the less bulky versions and it sold out quickly unfortuantely! Will keep an eye out for anything similar xx

  3. As a curator I feel obliged to add that all the “nationals” (so National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, British Museum, V&A and the Tates etc all have extensive collection displays that are free and accessible to everyone even without membership! We are very lucky in this country that museum entry is free of charge!

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