Visitors to Tucson Medical Center may have noticed a change on the walls — a growing fine art collection. Since 2014, TMC has had an official Healing Art Program. You may be surprised to learn that it is accomplishing much more than beautifying the hospital
It started with a good idea. Art collectors who want to downside their homes, or families dealing with art in estates, often don’t know what to do with the beloved but no-longer-needed art. Especially art that falls into the category of “too good for a yard sale,” but not especially desired by auction houses or museums; in other words, most of the art that is collected!
Doris and Len Coris were collectors facing this dilemma, and they thought that hospitals might become a viable option. When they approached the TMC Foundation with their idea, it was a perfect fit. TMC has miles of wall space, and most of it was empty.
TMC hired a curator, Lauren Rabb, and soon there were gallery-quality works of art popping up all over. It soon became clear, however, that the program had the potential to do much more.
Rabb had been following the research on how the arts can positively affect healing. There was extensive evidence that looking at nature has the power to soothe nerves and lessen pain; in fact, the original design of TMC was built on this principle. Many patients at TMC in the older sections of the hospital have rooms that look out on courtyards so they can get a “nature fix.” But new parts of the hospital don’t have this advantage. Luckily, beautiful landscape photography works almost as well. With the help of many generous local photographers and Centric Photo, Rabb was able to compile a stable of working artists who were willing to donate the use of their images. Then Rabb brought the choices to staff in nature-deprived units.
Not only did staff get to choose the images they liked for their particular unit and patient population, they also felt involved and appreciated because they had a say in the decision. A win-win for patients and staff!
Next, because music also has healing properties that have been well-documented, Rabb took on formalizing the music program. She brought three harpists and one classical guitarist into the Healing Art Program. These musicians appear randomly in the units of their choice, but always to delight and gratitude from the patients. Plans are in the works to greatly expand the number of musicians working at the hospital.
As the program continues to grow, it’s clear that patients, visitors and staff are enjoying the changes. The Healing Art Program is documenting the response of stakeholders at the hospital, and positive feedback is ongoing. With better outcomes for patients, and staff that feels appreciated, it is clear that TMC’s Healing Art Program has been a success.
**If you would like to get involved in the Healing Art Program, please contact the TMC Foundation at 520-324-3116, or send an email to the Foundation’s Vice President: Michael.Duran@tmcaz.com. To see some of the art on display at the hospital, go to http://www.tmcaz.com/healing-art-program, and click on the link for a catalog of works.