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Activating the Art Museum for Healthcare Professionals:

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In today’s episode, Claire Bown engages in conversation with the authors of a groundbreaking new book, “Activating the Art Museum: Designing Experiences for the Health Professions.” Ruth Slavin, Corinne Zimmermann, and Ray Williams share their insights into the powerful intersection of art and healthcare. This book is the first-ever guide to creating art museum experiences tailored specifically for healthcare professionals’ development and well-being.

In this conversation Ruth, Corinne, and Ray delve into their motivations for writing the book, even amid the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We explore why art museums are a natural fit for supporting healthcare, how critical thinking about art can enhance medicine, and the practical methods and frameworks they provide, like Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS).

We’ll also learn how art fosters empathy, improves teamwork, and addresses bias in healthcare.

Plus, discover the calming influence of art museums, the advantages of mindfulness in healthcare, and how these experiences benefit everyone involved, from healthcare workers to patients and the healthcare field as a whole.


VTMO Intermediate

VTMO Advanced

Ruth Slavin LinkedIn

Ray Williams LinkedIn

Corinne Zimmerman LinkedIn

Short description of book

Activating the Art Museum: Designing Experiences for the Health Professions is the first book to address theory and practice connecting art museums and healthcare. Chapters address key topics including tolerating ambiguity; empathy; interprofessional teamwork; confronting bias; the power of story; caring for the spirit; wellbeing and mindfulness.

Link to publishers website

Activating the Art Museum: Designing Experiences for the Health Professions

Discount flyer link for those interested in purchasing

Additional links for learning opportunities


Ruth Slavin has thirty years of leadership experience in art museums, most recently as deputy director for education at the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) where she initiated partnerships with faculty in medicine, nursing and social work. Since 2009, she has designed gallery experiences, workshops, and elective courses with and for physicians, residents, and medical students on topics including empathy, complexity and ambiguity in medicine, personal narratives in medical education, and mindfulness. Since 2014, she has served as a core member of the faculty team for the POE in Medical Humanities at the U-M Medical School. 

Ray Williams has established robust partnerships with medical educators and clinicians as the director of education at both the Harvard Art Museums and, since 2012, the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin. He participated in the American Academy of Medical College’s committee on integrating the arts and humanities in medical education and has consulted to the Kern National Network for Caring and Character in Medicine. His work with health professionals in museum settings has focused on interprofessional teamwork, empathic communication, religion and spirituality, and wellbeing. He has a particular commitment to supporting clinicians dealing with grief and loss.

Corinne Zimmermann has been a museum educator for thirty years. Through Corinne Zimmermann Consultancy, she custom designs training and workshops for the health professions and business organizations focused on improving communication and team dynamics; cultivating leadership skills and empathic capacities; mitigating biases; and promoting well-being. She is a founding co-director of the Harvard Macy Institute’s Art Museum-based Health Professions Education Fellowship and co-founder of VTS@Work, which offers interprofessional training and certification in the Visual Thinking Strategies. In Fall 2023, she is co-teaching Training our Eyes, Minds, and Hearts: Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) for Healthcare Professionals, a CME course offered through Harvard Medical School.