Books | The healing power of art


It seems to me that I have been waiting for this book for ages. Publishing Art Therapy in Museums and Galleries: The Practice of Cropping (edited by Ali Coles and Helen Jury, Hachette, £ 26.99) has never been more timely and makes it all the more powerful. This is the first book of its kind exploring the dynamics and impacts of the growing number of partnerships between art therapists and museum professionals in the context of museum and gallery spaces.

I started my career in museums and galleries in 2004, right after completing a basic art therapy course at Trafford College. I remember asking my then-Learning and Engagement Manager at the Whitworth Gallery if it would be possible to introduce the practice of art therapy into our museum programs. Although my request was met with some interest, we had just started seriously our artistic and sanitary work. We had a lot to learn. It took time to develop lasting partnerships in health and social services, and to increase our mutual respect for each other’s professional knowledge and skills.

ISBN: 9781785924118, Jessica Kingsley Publishers
The complete treatment

Art Therapy in Museums and Galleries, edited by Ali Coles and Helen Jury, is presented in three parts providing readers with context, practical examples of art therapists working with museums and galleries, and broader perspectives through a series thoughtful and insightful essays.

Careful deliberation of professional boundaries, theoretical frameworks, and ethical considerations is essential to shape and advance this work. This book carefully examines these questions. It offers art therapists, museum and gallery professionals, and others working in the field, new ways to collectively communicate with some of the most vulnerable members of our communities. Examples from a wide range of partnership models, in different countries and participant groups, provide readers with some of the skills, knowledge and capacities necessary to expand the practice of art therapy and cultivate the therapeutic potential of museums. .

Coles and Jury’s introduction clearly articulates their belief that museums add something to the therapeutic process, while also broadening thinking around the scope of art therapy.

As you read the trials, you frequently appreciate the importance of the absence of a clinical environment for clients and / or participants and how this can present challenges for others. and draws attention to possibilities for future collaborations and research. Art therapy in museums and galleries firmly establishes the museum as a therapeutic space and is a truly rich resource for art therapists and their practice.

The book emphasizes the importance of cross-sector partnerships to give participants and museum staff the specialist and professional expertise and support needed to deliver therapy sessions to those most at risk, while ensuring a safe space for all. involved. Publishers are quick to take on the challenges that museums present to art therapists, their clients and visitors in general. Discussions about the intentional omission of aspects of heritage – such as that relating to ethnic minority communities, the misappropriation of cultural artefacts and the perception of museums as unwelcoming – are used to explore issues of diversity, care, neglect and abuse of power.

Community care

We are seeing an industry-wide movement in the areas of culture, health and wellness and an increased demand for museums and galleries to actively question their social purpose and civic role. Many have reset their mission goals to align them with the strategic health priorities of their communities to ensure they are more relevant to the people they serve. Mental health conditions and issues are on the rise around the world, intensified by the pandemic. We need to understand how museums can support art therapists, art psychotherapists and other health and social service professionals.

For those looking to advance this type of work, Art therapy in museums
and Galleries deserve your attention. It helps to define a new field of museum practice and art therapy and gives a discourse to this essential work.

Wendy Gallagher is responsible for civic engagement and education at the Manchester Museum, University of Manchester


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