Presenting the Art of Healing

I recently had the opportunity to attend the South Carolina Federation of Museums (SCFM) annual conference in Camden, SC, both as a participant and a presenter. Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration at the Gibbes (and now the president of SCFM!) suggested that I submit an application to present on our Art of Healing program sponsored by Roper St. Francis Healthcare, and I was thrilled with the idea! I knew this conference would be a great chance to meet other museum and cultural professionals from South Carolina as well as gain feedback on the Art of Healing program from my colleagues.

Amanda Breen, Rebecca Sailor, and Zinnia Willits

Amanda Breen, Rebecca Sailor, Curator of Education, and Zinnia Willits, Director of Collections Administration, at the South Carolina Federation of Museums (SCFM) conference.

Since the fall of 2012, I have been fortunate enough to help organize the Art of Healing Lending Collection, now up and running at the Roper Rehabilitation Hospital. Inspired by a patient’s request to have artwork displayed in his room while staying at the rehab hospital, the lending collection is comprised of 22 works of art by 16 local artists including Lese Corrigan, Rick Reinert, and Brenda Orcutt, who were generous enough to lend their pieces to the hospital. Upon admittance to the rehab unit, patients are allowed to choose a piece from this collection to have displayed in their room during their recovery. This collection compliments the Art of Healing lecture and workshop series at the Gibbes Museum. I’ve truly enjoyed working on this initiative, and wanted to be able to share this exciting program with attendees. I also hoped to gain ideas from those attending the workshop on their perspective of the program and suggestions for improvements.

A New Day, 2013

“A New Day” by Rick Reinert.

This year’s SCFM conference was held in the charming and friendly town of Camden, SC. The conference began the evening of March 12, and concluded on Friday, March 14. Each day was divided into several time slots, of which registrants were asked to select one of three workshop options to attend. After attending a session at the Camden Archives and Museum on the morning of March 13, I gave my presentation at another historic building that the city of Camden was gracious enough to let us use. After giving some background on the Art of Healing and explaining how the program began, I wanted to open the session up for discussion. I was very impressed with participant’s enthusiasm and the great ideas on how to improve the program. Suggestions such as complementary programming for children or veterans were just some of the interesting ideas that came out of the conversation portion of the presentation.

<i>Art of Healing</i>

Artist Brianna Stello with a patient who chose Stello’s photograph, “Wetlands,” to hang in his hospital room in 2013.

After the presentation concluded, conference participants met at the historic Robert Mills Courthouse for the Awards Recognition and Business Luncheon. The afternoon consisted of several more sessions which opened my eyes to what wonderful work other museums and cultural in the state are doing. I had the opportunity to learn about a program that Historic Columbia has created that pairs high school students with retired alumni from the school. The alumni mentor the students and encourage them to get involved with the community. That evening, attendees were invited to a lovely reception and the National Steeplechase Museum which gave everyone a chance to talk and get to know colleagues from around the state.

In the museum world, it is extremely important to reach out and learn from our sister institutions on how to improve our programs. We can learn so much from other museums that have faced the same challenges we may have, and we in return and teach others what has and has not worked for us. Overall, the SCFM conference was a great experience and I’ll definitely be going back next year!

Amanda Breen, Membership Coordinator, Gibbes Museum of Art

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