A recent research study out of the University of California at Berkeley suggests that the experience of awe and other positive emotions, such as those felt at an art museum when viewing an inspiring image or experiencing a natural wonder, may have a significant impact on health and immunity. Dr. Jennifer Stellar, one of the study’s authors, backed this up, stating, “Rather than seeing a walk through the park or a trip to the museum as an indulgence, we hope people will view these kinds of experiences as important ways to promote a healthy body in addition to a healthy mind. Folding these kinds of positive experiences into your daily routine may be more important for health than we previously realized.”
For the past twenty years, The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens has put a strong focus on serving all members of the community, despite mental, physical, emotional, or health barriers. Art and wellness programs are at the core of the museum’s mission and vision, and are woven through the experiences provided within the museum and through outreach programs every day.
The Cummer Museum’s commitment to art and wellness initiatives began in 1995, when Dr. Lynne Raiser of the University of North Florida handed over the local Very Special Arts (VSA) affiliate to, then, Educator Hope McMath. The opinion was that the affiliate could not be fully utilized by the community in the setting of a university, and that the museum would be a better fit.
From this change in location, the VSA Festival at The Cummer was born. The festival launched in 1995 with two hundred children, accompanied by their teachers and caregivers, and on its twentieth anniversary has grown to serve more than twenty-four hundred children, teachers and caregivers over the course of a four-day festival on The Cummer campus, sponsored by Citi.
Article written by Amber Sesnick