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Community outreach.

Imagining how a child feels when she or he is admitted to a hospital for an extended period of time, the staff of the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) established a program called "Museum on Rounds."

A collaboration between the Museum of Art, RISD and the Department of Pediatrics at Rhode Island Hospital, the program presents art projects to patients. Once a week, an "art team" from the museum's education department transforms the hospital's activity room into a studio space with materials that support that day's three-hour session. Children who are unable to leave their rooms are visited by a museum staff member who brings the lesson to them.

Introducing the Lesson

All lessons are tailored to adapt to individual illnesses and educational levels. Each class is planned so the patient can complete a project in one session.

The children are introduced to an art activity through discussion of form and content in selected museum reproductions. Lessons have themes and culminate with a studio project specially designed for patients who might face challenges such as intravenous (IV) lines or severely impaired motor skills. Projects have included maskmaking, printmaking, modeling in clay, creating mobiles, painting and weaving.

Self-Expression and Independent Thinking

Children begin by viewing a reproduction of the nineteenth-century cityscape by E. Opper, Fire Engine on Main Street, and the twentieth-century cityscape by Maurice Utrillo, Street. Instructors ask the children to imagine the sights, sounds, shapes and colors of a city street. Using colored paper, participants create a relief construction of their imaginary street. A discussion follows to encourage critical thinking and visual awareness. The art instructor focuses on each individual and supports self-expression and independent thinking.

Zoo Animals Mural

Among the most recent assignments was painting zoo animals in their environment. In collaboration with the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence art instructors helped young patients design a mural for Hasbro Children's Hospital.

The mural is composed of sixty-five panels measuring 16 x 16' (5 x 5 m). Each panel was created by a child who was a patient of the Rhode Island Hospital during a particular six-month period and inspired by poster reproductions of animals provided by the zoo.

Implementing the Program

Instead of working in isolation, the museum called upon the talents and

utilized some of the resources of the Rhode Island School of Design to implement this program. A graduate student from RISD's art education department along with undergraduate students participate as the museum staff's teaching assistants. Even a museum docent, a volunteer who receives extensive training to learn about the museum's collection and exhibitions, has helped with the preparation and implementation of lessons. The docent's knowledge of the museum's collection and experience with guiding children on tours throughout the galleries adds dimension to the program. An innovative bed-top drawing board, designed by a RISD industrial design student and made possible through a grant from Very Special Arts Rhode Island, helps make hospitalized children more comfortable while creating their works of art.

A Positive, Healing Environment

"It is exciting to have the museum's education department support our goal of making surroundings of the children's hospital a little brighter," said Bruce Komiske, executive director of Hasbro Children's Hospital. "The hospital is fortunate to have such talented and compassionate people join in an effort to create a positive, healing environment." A

Monica J. Smith is the Coordinator of Museum Public Relations at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence.
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Title Annotation:art program for hospitalized children
Author:Smith, Monica J.
Publication:School Arts
Date:May 1, 1995
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