Patients and visitors to Metropolitan Methodist Hospital can now view images of artwork from the McNay Art Museum’s permanent collection thanks to a unique relationship between the hospital and the first modern art museum in Texas. Five large-scale, full-color reproductions of portraits from the McNay are now installed in a long corridor directly outside the hospital’s Operating Suites and waiting room. There, patients and visitors often experience a high level of stress and anxiety. The hope is that art will create a healing environment for everyone by alleviating the stress and pain many feel when they are in a hospital setting.
The images are high-quality reproductions of masterpieces by acclaimed European and American artists, including Paul Gauguin, Diego Rivera, Alice Neel, Pablo Picasso, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
The initiative was born out of a relatively new partnership between the hospital and the Museum. Early this year, Metropolitan Methodist Hospital was a lead sponsor of Something to Say: The McNay Presents 100 Years of African American Art, an exhibition of works from the collection of Harriet and Harmon Kelley, MD. Following the success of the exhibition, the hospital and the Museum committed to working together to integrate art into the total healing experience.
“The creation of this patient exhibition is our first step in providing art as part of the healing process. I was very impressed with the McNay’s mission and purpose of engaging a diverse community in the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts. It pairs nicely with Methodist Healthcare’s mission of serving humanity to honor God by providing exceptional and cost-effective healthcare, accessible to all,” stated Greg Seiler, CEO of Metropolitan Methodist Hospital. “Our organizations are following our missions by making fine art accessible in a non-traditional setting, where we know it will make a profound impact. Not only for patients who can take a walk down the corridor as part of their rehabilitation and healing process but also for patients’ visitors and family members who need some relief from the stress of having a loved one in the hospital,” added Seiler.
There is research to support the influence of art in a patient’s road to recovery. A 2011 University of London study found that blood flow increased 10 percent to the "joy response" part of the brain when subjects saw a beautiful painting — just like when you look at a loved one. This reaction is proof visual art has a strong, positive physiological effect on the brain. Physicians in Canada are embracing this approach: starting in November, doctors in Montreal who recognize the health benefits of art for their patients will be able to send them on visits to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. This “art prescription” will allow patients, accompanied by caregivers or family members, to enjoy the health benefits of a free trip to see beautiful art.
“Art heals,” said Richard Aste, Director of the McNay. “And we hope that incorporating more bursts of beauty outside an operating room will bring hope and inspiration to patients and their loved ones. The McNay and Metropolitan Methodist share core values, chief among them inclusiveness and access for all to our mutual commitment to excellence.”
Metropolitan Methodist Hospital and the McNay Art Museum plan to grow their collaboration over the next year, incorporating art across the healing process. This first initiative is a powerful start and the beginning of a partnership that will touch everyone who passes through the hospital corridor.