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UZ Leuven and M Leuven join forces for project 'Art for the Children's Hospital'

24 February 2020

In the true Leuven MindGate spirit of cross-pollination between health and creativity, UZ Leuven en Museum M Leuven set up a project to increase the resilience of sick children in the hospital through art.

M Museum
UZ Leuven

In the children's hospital of UZ Leuven, young patients worked on their own art last week. They did so together with visual artist Nel Aerts, whose exhibition will run until mid-March in the Museum M in Leuven. On Thursday 20 February, family and friends enjoyed the result together during a show moment. For M Leuven and UZ Leuven this is the starting point of a project to increase the resilience of the children in the hospital together.

UZ Leuven and M Leuven are convinced that art and creativity have an important power in the healing process. That is why they set up a separate 'Muse room' in the new children's hospital of UZ Leuven: a creative hotspot in the heart of the new children's hospital. It is a space where creativity can be fully expressed and where the link to M Leuven is made. Interactive meetings, studios and expositions with various artists and performers from different disciplines will be organised.

From 17 to 20 February, the children were able to work on their own work of art during a first project there, under the supervision of Belgian artist Nel Aerts. Aerts: "There are 120 beds in the department. One week in advance, all patients received a card with an invitation to participate. The idea was to set up a kind of textile workshop. What I hope is that the children don't just think about being sick when they look back on their time in hospital. I want to emphasize their strength. Of course art won't cure them, but at best it can be a tool to deal with their situation. If I can contribute to that, I'm very happy."


Muse and art for the children's hospital

The past week is part of a broader project called 'Muse and Art for the Children's Hospital'. UZ Leuven and M Leuven have joined forces for this project. Together they are developing a sustainable art project in which children staying in the hospital can discover their creativity.

Denise Vandevoort, alderman of culture and chairman of M Leuven: "We want to give the young people a chance to step outside the hospital room with their talents and their own story. At both M and UZ Leuven we are convinced that creative expression can only benefit the children's resilience. That is why we have joined forces to set up a project that pushes the hospital context into the background and makes room for self-expression and personal development. A fine example of collaboration in Leuven, with a moving result".

Pioneering role

UZ Leuven provided a space where the creativity of young people can be fully expressed. That space was christened 'Muze'. The results of the workshops and workshops are also shown there, so that parents and friends of the participants can enjoy themselves. With this project, UZ Leuven, M Leuven and the city want to take a pioneering role in Belgium and evolve beyond the borders of classical medicine.

Prof. Dr. Carine Wouters, pediatric rheumatologist and chairman of the Art Fund Children's Hospital: "As doctors, we were inspired by the words of one of our patients who said: 'Curing children is also a bit of art'. That was in line with the realisation that real medicine is more than just excellent medical and paramedical care. That encouraged us to put our shoulders to the project Art in the Children's Hospital".

M-artists engage

The Muse space is a permanent setting for interactive encounters, studios and exhibitions with various artists and performers from different disciplines. The process here is as important as the final product. These end products can be drawings or installations by the children or the artists, but also films, photographs, poems, music pieces, stories ...

In this way the children experience meaningful moments that make them forget their worries for a moment in a world where being sick dominates everything. Interaction and creativity with sick children is also a special experience for the artists. For them it means something that gives an additional dimension to their artistic commitment and also inspires them.

The upcoming projects in the Muze space are also always linked to the exhibitions in M Leuven.

Source (text and pictures): M-Museum Leuven
Translated by Leuven MindGate

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