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National Gallery Celebrates 10 Years of 'Taking Art' to Young Hospital Patients
Sainsbury Wing - Interior © National Gallery, London.

LONDON.- This summer, the National Gallery celebrates a decade of Take Art - an outreach programme that provides opportunities for children and teens who, due to chronic or short term illness or injury, are being educated in hospital.

This programme provides children who cannot leave the hospital with access to The National Gallery’s collection from their hospital school room, ward or bed.

Take Art has a flexible structure but sessions usually include interactive discussions followed by practical sessions delivered by a National Gallery lecturer with teachers or resident artists from the hospital school. At the end of every visit lecturers leave a new print at the hospital, helping to build a comprehensive library for future use. Children and adolescents taking part include those receiving treatment for cancer, those being cared for in an eating disorder unit and those awaiting surgery.

The key objectives of Take Art are to provide creative and enjoyable activity for vulnerable and excluded young people; to work directly with patients as well as encourage teachers and medical staff to use National Gallery prints as a resource for learning across the curriculum and to support teachers in hospital schools who are short of resources or who work in isolated conditions.

Funding from the John S Cohen Foundation and The Austin and Hope Pilkington has enabled The National Gallery to extend the range of sources available for Take Art to include multisensory boxes based on key paintings from the collection. These boxes are particularly helpful for those with sensory impairment or special educational needs. This funding has also allowed the Gallery to provide materials for the children so they can participate in puppet making, drawing, painting, creative writing, 3D modelling and printmaking.

The number of visits has steadily increased over the years and in the 2007-2008 academic year 11 National Gallery lecturers made 77 visits to 17 hospitals in London, working with around 380 patients. In addition, 4 hospital groups have made 5 visits to the National Gallery, and 12 teachers from participating hospital schools have attended Continuing Professional Development training courses at the National Gallery.

From 2001 – 2005, the Gallery expanded scheme to include Take Art Travels, incorporating visits to Newcastle and Bristol hospitals, linked with Touring Partnership exhibitions at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Bristol’s City Museums and Art Gallery. These cultural institutions continue to work with these hospitals independent of the National Gallery. In 2009-10 academic year two new hospital schools will join the Take Art programme, taking the total number of participating schools to 19.

Take Art has been extremely well received by the children, parents, teachers and hospital professionals. Positive outcomes include improved concentration, enhanced communication skills and opportunities for parents to do something positive and enjoyable with their child in a hospital setting that is not related to their medical treatment.

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