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GOING TO THE MUSEUM MAKES YOU HAPPY: A PILOT STUDY AT THE TEATRO ALLA SCALA MUSEUM.

Authors:
  • Foundation Villa Santa Maria

Abstract

Twelve adolescents with autism (age 10-17) took part to this study. The ASD subjects were diagnosed with autism according to the DSM V criteria, confirmed through ADOS-2 and under observation at our Institute. Their mean ADOS severity score was 7.8 (range 4-10). The experience consisted in a guided visit to the Teatro Alla Scala Museum by a cultural mediator with experience in the field of inclusion for people with cognitive disabilities. At the end of the visit, the guests were made to sit in the Exedra hall, which houses the famous Steinway piano that belonged to Franz Liszt. Here a team from the Conservatory "Giuseppe Verdi" in Como presented a special reduction of "The Magic Flute" by Mozart, illustrating the history and individual characters with drawings and objects such as the music box, and singing the famous arias accompanied by piano and flute along with stage movements and dances. The performance lasted about half an hour. The measurement of the impact of this experience on psychological well-being was done by using a special continuous chromatic analogue scale presented as a 10 cm rule. The ruler has a sliding cursor that the subject is invited to position at the level corresponding to his current perceived psychological well-being (figure 1). Before visiting the museum, well-being measurements were taken for five consecutive days, to establish a basic level of reference by asking subjects to use the ruler to determine the level of their momentary psychological well-being at a given time of day, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. On the day dedicated to the theatre experience, the same type of evaluation was carried out at 11 a.m., immediately before the experience, at 12.30 p.m., immediately after the experience, and at 2.30 p.m. on return to the Institute.
CONCLUSIONS
Twelve adolescents with autism (age 10-17) took part to this study. The ASD subjects were diagnosed with autism according to the DSM V criteria, confirmed through ADOS-2 and
under observation at our Institute. Their mean ADOS severity score was 7.8 (range 4-10).
The experience consisted in a guided visit to the Teatro Alla Scala Museum by a cultural mediator with experience in the field of inclusion for people with cognitive disabilities. At the
end of the visit, the guests were made to sit in the Exedra hall, which houses the famous Steinway piano that belonged to Franz Liszt. Here a team from the Conservatory "Giuseppe
Verdi" in Como presented a special reduction of “The Magic Flute” by Mozart, illustrating the history and individual characters with drawings and objects such as the music box, and
singing the famous arias accompanied by piano and flute along with stage movements and dances. The performance lasted about half an hour.
The measurement of the impact of this experience on psychological well-being was done by using a special continuous chromatic analogue scale presented as a10 cm rule. The ruler
has a sliding cursor that the subject is invited to position at the level corresponding to his current perceived psychological well-being (figure 1).
Before visiting the museum, well-being measurements were taken for five consecutive days, to establish a basic level of reference by asking subjects to use the ruler to determine the
level of their momentary psychological well-being at a given time of day, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. On the day dedicated to the theatre experience, the same type of evaluation
was carried out at 11 a.m., immediately before the experience, at 12.30 p.m., immediately after the experience, and at 2.30 p.m. on return to the Institute.
RESULTS
GOING TO THE MUSEUM MAKES YOU HAPPY: A PILOT STUDY AT THE TEATRO ALLA SCALA MUSEUM.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Recent studies have shown that subjects with autism are able to perceive aesthetic stimuli of artistic beauty. Therefore, by making
art accessible to the, potential benefits such as greater self-esteem, mental stimulation and greater social interaction may
potentially ensue.
The aim of this pilot experience is to explore the impact on wellbeing of a special museum and performing arts experience in
adolescents with autism.
This pilot study confirms that adolescents with autism are keen to receiving enjoyment when exposed to beauty, art
and music and that the measurement of their momentary well-being is feasible despite the presence of an important
cognitive deficit.
Villa Santa Maria Foundation, Tavernerio (Como), Italy; International Council of Museums, Italy
Enzo Grossi, Antonia Castelnuovo, Annamaria Ravagnan
Figure 1: Wellbeing ACCS ruler
Figure 2: Subjective wellbeing before and after the experience at Theatric
Museum alla Scala. Histograms show mean values and whiskers standard
deviations
The impact of the artistic experience on the mood of the subjects
was evident both to the staff of the Istituto Villa Santa Maria and to
the collaborators present. All the subjects showed smiling
expressions and participated in the representation applauding
happily.
The basic level of well-being of the previous days was rather stable
over time, with an average value of 66 mm (14.5 SD) in the group of
subjects with autism. Measuring well-being immediately after the
aesthetic experience highlighted a strong emotional impact with a
47% increase in the momentary psychological well-being (from 64
mm to 94 mm).
The increase resulted similar to that obtained in a control group of
twelve adolescent with other forms of neuropsychiatric disorders.
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