ROM Launches New Wellness Program Providing Free Visits to the Museum

ROMCAN’s social prescription initiative will reach 5,000 community members and their families across Ontario in 2019

TORONTO, December 6, 2018— The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is pleased to announce a new health and wellness initiative that will enable thousands of people from across the province to visit the Museum at no cost, with a referral from associated ROMCAN healthcare, community, or social service professionals. The Museum’s year-long social prescription pilot program, a collaborative effort with the partners of the ROM’s Community Access Network (ROMCAN), provides an opportunity for people accessing health or social services to benefit from the uplifting experience of engaging with art and culture. 

“We are very proud to launch this ground-breaking wellness program with our community-based partners across the province,” says Josh Basseches, ROM Director & CEO. “We know that museum experiences have the power to enhance the health and well-being of communities. By offering greater access to the ROM, our collections, and our programs, this new initiative will enrich the lives of many visitors.”

Research has shown that supplementing traditional treatments by engaging people in art and culture can help alleviate social isolation, promote physical and mental well-being, and improve overall quality of life. Beginning in January 2019, healthcare and social service providers can “prescribe” a visit to the ROM as a non-medicinal, therapeutic service to promote health and well-being. This opportunity is available to ROMCAN’s province-wide community service-based organizations.

With a referral through the ROM Social Prescription Program, individuals are given a ROM pass (valid for up to four visitors) to enjoy free general admission to the museum and its associated activities. The program will launch in January with a cohort of 20 ROMCAN partners, including Rexdale Community Health Centre, before being rolled out to all ROMCAN partners in the coming year. Rexdale Community Health Centre has helped shape the ROM Social Prescription Program by participating in a preliminary pilot program in the summer of 2018.   

“This innovative pilot project will mean more people struggling with health issues can visit the ROM and experience the many therapeutic aspects that arts and culture have to offer,” says Michael Tibollo, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “By partnering with the community, ROMCAN will help people lead healthier lives and maintain better overall well-being.”

About Social Prescriptions
Social prescriptions are a means for healthcare, community, and social service professionals to refer people to non-clinical and non-medical services that, along with existing treatments, can be a therapeutic tool for improving health and well-being.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care funded a one-year pilot project with The Alliance for Healthier Communities in September 2018. This program offers social prescriptions in 11 community health centres to address the growing problems of loneliness and social isolation, particularly among older adults. The ROM will be collaborating with the Alliance throughout the year to better understand the impact of museums on health and well-being. Research resulting from this collaboration will help inform the ROM Social Prescription Program as it evolves.

About ROM Community Access Network (ROMCAN)
Established in 2008, the ROM’s Community Access Network (ROMCAN) is a Museum program committed to removing financial, social and cultural barriers to access for our diverse communities. ROMCAN is based on three pillars of social inclusion: access, representation, and participation. Through these pillars, the ROM commits to being an institution that is entrenched in, reflective of, and in service to its diverse community. ROMCAN makes available 100,000 free visits every year, and works in close collaboration with 100 community partners across Ontario to create and deliver inclusive museum experiences that allow community members to engage with our collections, research and programs on their own terms. ROMCAN and its programs are generously supported by The Bennett Family Foundation, The Cheng Family, Peter Gilgan Foundation, Patrick and Barbara Keenan Foundation, and The MacMillan Family Foundation.

For more information on ROM Community Access Network (ROMCAN) and a list of ROMCAN partners please visit our website.


For further information and interviews, contact:
Amanda Fruci, ROM Communications Manager

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Twitter: @ROMtoronto

Founded in 1914, the Royal Ontario Museum showcases art, culture and nature from around the world and across the ages. Among the top 10 cultural institutions in North America, Canada’s largest and most comprehensive museum is home to a world-class collection of 13 million art objects and natural history specimens, featured in 40 gallery and exhibition spaces. As the country’s preeminent field research institute and an international leader in new and original findings, the ROM plays a vital role in advancing our understanding of the artistic, cultural and natural world. Combining its original heritage architecture with the contemporary Daniel Libeskind-designed Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, the ROM serves as a national landmark, and a dynamic cultural destination in the heart of Toronto for all to enjoy.