June 21, 2021 (DETROIT) – The Detroit Institute of Arts’ studio staff have found a way to provide art enrichment to patients at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan during the pandemic by creating free drop-off art kits for patients and their families.   

Prior to the pandemic, as part of the museum’s Healing Arts Program, the museum’s studio assistants visited Children’s Hospital of Michigan weekly to facilitate drop-in style art workshops bedside or in common areas such as waiting rooms or activity spaces for patients and their families.

"It's always been important to provide these artmaking activities with our neighbor the Children's Hospital of Michigan,” said Zachary Frieling, DIA Studio Coordinator for the Healing Arts program. “The staff at Children’s Hospital of Michigan are amazing to work with and truly care about providing patients and families every positive experience they can to help make their time in the hospital as relaxing and easy as possible. We were proud to contribute and hopefully these kits will lead to more creative experiences even after the patients and families have returned home."

When the DIA’s in-person programming was suspended in 2020, the museum’s studio staff looked at its programs and identified those that could be altered to continue providing art-making experiences in the region. The Healing Arts Program at Children’s Hospital of Michigan was identified as one of those programs. 

“Being in the hospital can be an isolating experience, particularly during a pandemic. As a child life specialists, part of our goal is to reduce that feeling of isolation, help the hospital feel like a more familiar and friendly environment, and provide opportunities for positive coping experiences through a variety of modalities, including self-expression”, says Sinéad Nimmo, CCLS, Child Life Projects Specialist, “The kits provided by the DIA provide an excellent opportunity for our patients to express themselves in an artistic and fun way and learn about art and sculpture in the process. We are incredibly grateful to provide this opportunity to the patients at Children’s Hospital of Michigan.” 


After discussions with Children’s Hospital of Michigan Child Life Project Specialist, it was determined that delivering supplies was the best course of action, in the form of individually bagged kits so patients and family could still have a DIA art-making experience. 

Simple air-drying clay was chosen to provide an engaging activity for both patients and their siblings, parents, or caretakers that might be spending long stretches of time in the hospital. The goal of the kits is to provide supplies for a project that could be entirely open-ended. All kits come with background information, context relating to the museum or specific works of art, and motivating questions.  

Funding for community partnership programs like Healing Arts is provided by the tri-county millage.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works that comprise a multicultural survey of human creativity from ancient times through the 21st century. From the first Van Gogh painting to enter a U.S. museum (Self-Portrait, 1887), to Diego Rivera's world-renowned Detroit Industry murals (1932–33), the DIA’s collection is known for its quality, range and depth. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art.

Programs are made possible with support from residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.