Museums embrace the healing power of art therapy

Psychologists have long praised the correlation between artistic expression and healing, but until now, not many museums directly incorporated wellness into their exhibits and programs. The emotional distress and isolation many are experiencing during the pandemic have motivated art institutions across the country to promote healing with their work. 

The Queens Museum is offering virtual art therapy courses that consist of half-hour classes of artistic exploration and expression. One older New York resident, Walter Enriquez, lives with his daughter and attends weekly classes to create images of his life and reflect on what he is experiencing. Using a variety of mediums, he creates pictures of his mother and illustrates the loneliness he feels. “We cannot go outside and enjoy our lives like before,” Mr. Enriquez told the New York Times in Spanish, translated by his daughter. “But art helps us capture the past and relive positive experiences to get through pain and sadness.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is also looking into art-based therapy approaches. Just as it did after 9/11, the museum plans to reopen as a safe space for New Yorkers, with exhibits specifically focused on the shared experience of isolation and trauma. Some of the pieces on their list are Honoré Daumier’s “The Laundress” (1863), depictions of resilience like Faith Ringgold’s “Street Story Quilt” (1985), and memorials to the dead like a fifth century B.C. Greek grave stele of a little girl. In collaboration with the Bronx Museum and the Museum of Chinese in America, the museum also revamped a teen event to focus on self-care and communication during the coronavirus crisis.

The Rubin Museum of Art will relaunch their meditation podcast and plans to use their collection of Tibetan and Nepalese objects as a vehicle for reflection and self-contemplation. Additionally, the Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio plans to train more than a hundred volunteer docents on art therapy techniques that will help them greet visitors when it reopens this summer.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts even allows physicians to prescribe free access to its galleries. The museum was also one of the first in North America to hire a full-time art therapist in 2017. Katherine Caron, one participant in the program, said, “I hadn’t created art since I was a child, but art therapy has helped me externalize what I’m feeling and express my gratitude for life.”

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Museums embrace the healing power of art therapy

Psychologists have long praised the correlation between artistic expression and healing, but until now, not many museums directly incorporated wellness into their exhibits and programs. The emotional distress and isolation many are experiencing during the pandemic have motivated art institutions across the country to promote healing with their work. 

The Queens Museum is offering virtual art therapy courses that consist of half-hour classes of artistic exploration and expression. One older New York resident, Walter Enriquez, lives with his daughter and attends weekly classes to create images of his life and reflect on what he is experiencing. Using a variety of mediums, he creates pictures of his mother and illustrates the loneliness he feels. “We cannot go outside and enjoy our lives like before,” Mr. Enriquez told the New York Times in Spanish, translated by his daughter. “But art helps us capture the past and relive positive experiences to get through pain and sadness.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is also looking into art-based therapy approaches. Just as it did after 9/11, the museum plans to reopen as a safe space for New Yorkers, with exhibits specifically focused on the shared experience of isolation and trauma. Some of the pieces on their list are Honoré Daumier’s “The Laundress” (1863), depictions of resilience like Faith Ringgold’s “Street Story Quilt” (1985), and memorials to the dead like a fifth century B.C. Greek grave stele of a little girl. In collaboration with the Bronx Museum and the Museum of Chinese in America, the museum also revamped a teen event to focus on self-care and communication during the coronavirus crisis.

The Rubin Museum of Art will relaunch their meditation podcast and plans to use their collection of Tibetan and Nepalese objects as a vehicle for reflection and self-contemplation. Additionally, the Cincinnati Art Museum in Ohio plans to train more than a hundred volunteer docents on art therapy techniques that will help them greet visitors when it reopens this summer.

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts even allows physicians to prescribe free access to its galleries. The museum was also one of the first in North America to hire a full-time art therapist in 2017. Katherine Caron, one participant in the program, said, “I hadn’t created art since I was a child, but art therapy has helped me externalize what I’m feeling and express my gratitude for life.”

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