Supported by the Rhode Island Hospital Medical Staff Association, Museum on Wheels offers patients the opportunity to choose new artwork for their rooms from a traveling library of prints and photographs.
Making the rounds at Rhode Island Hospital, volunteers who are trained to elicit maximum benefits from their interactions with patients transport the cart filled with artwork. Subject matter includes landscapes, animals, birds, sports and children. The artwork is generally uplifting to enhance the patient's room and provide comfort, yet interesting enough to stimulate conversation.
The volunteer encourages the patient to select a work of art to hang in his or her room for one or two weeks. At the end of this period, the volunteer will return with the art cart from which the patient may choose another picture. The element of choice-selecting one's favorite artwork and changing one's environment-is a crucial aspect of the program. Being able to choose, in an environment where choices are few, helps encourage mental alertness and a sense of connection to the outside world.
The artwork can promote communication through thoughtful discussions between patient and volunteer about subject matter and significance of the work. Conversation about a non-medical issue is often therapeutic for the patient. The artwork also can influence staff to interact with patients on a more personal level. Other effects of the prints are less tangible, highly personal and unique to each person, setting and interaction. Patients take pride in having their selections hung on the walls of their rooms, and family and friends also benefit from the changing artwork.