We are happy to announce that the Department of Arts & Health at Duke Records are processed and open for research. This interesting collection documents the department’s history of providing cultural services programming for Duke Hospital. Fittingly, the collection displays material in a variety of formats, from published poetry compilations to scrapbooks highlighting sponsored performing arts programs, as exhibited in the image on the right.
The Arts & Health Department at Duke was established in 1978 as the Cultural Services Program. Founded by James H. Semans, MD, and Wayne Rundles, MD, with initial support from the National Endowment for the Arts and Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the program’s goal was to explore the roles that the arts and humanities might play in a hospital environment and the healing process. The program began with sponsoring the performing arts at the hospital through monthly musical performances in the Duke Hospital cafeteria. The image below shows an invitation that the Cultural Services Program used to advertise one of their musical concerts to Duke Hospital patients, guests, and staff.
The department soon grew to offer a variety of visual, performing, and literary arts programs. Such projects included the installation of visual art exhibits, the acquisition of artwork for patients’ rooms, the implementation of a literary program for journaling and poetry, the creation of a hospital television channel with arts and cultural programs, and the development of a circulation lending library of books and music on tape, among many others.
Under the leadership of Janice Palmer, who served as director from the founding until 1999, the Arts & Health Department at Duke also stood as a leader in the international arts and healthcare movement. It was instrumental in organizing the first convocation of hospital arts programs in 1989, which led to the creation of the Society for the Arts in Healthcare.
The Department of Arts & Health at Duke continues to offer programming to Duke Hospital patients and their families, visitors, and employees. For information on their current programs, see the department’s website.