The Healing Arts program at UNMC gives patients a sense of peace


Hanna Stock

Artist: Dale Chihuly
Exhibit: The Healing Arts program at UNMC Cancer Center
Gallery Hours: General Public Saturdays 1 to 2 p.m.
Cost: Free

The Healing Arts program at the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at Nebraska Medicine gives patients an escape and healing comfort that goes beyond medicine.

Dale Chihuly worked closely with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and Nebraska Medicine to create a place where patients, researchers and caregivers could escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in a hospital.

Chihuly’s vision for the exhibit provides “comfort, peace and meditation” with his skills in glassmaking.  His vision unfolds into reality, and comfort, peace and meditation is exactly what he brings to UNMC.

Chihuly is most known for his glasswork but he also is a multimedia artist. His career began with weaving, and he said drawing is second nature to him. In 1976, while Chihuly was in England, he was involved in a car accident in which he flew through the windshield and was blinded in his left eye. The accident didn’t stop him from pursuing his passion.

The first moment of walking into the Chihuly Sanctuary, colorful bouquets of blown glass sprout out of the walls. Up close the spirals of glass peeking out resemble an ocean coral reef. Fiery yellow and orange colors blend into a cool crisp blue and green.

A few steps around the corner in the center of the sanctuary is a cylinder room.  An immediate release of tension exists the body from the first steps in. Sunlight beams through the skylight window, down upon crystal white glass structures that hang on the walls of the cone-like room. Calming sounds of flutes and soft bird chirps fill the room, feeling as though you somewhere other than earth.

“This sanctuary feels like an escape to a different world from the regular chaos of everyday life,” Nebraska Medicine employee Kourtney Blum said.

The Healing Arts program is intended to help reduce pain perception, anxiety, stress, loneliness and depression, according to the UNMC website.

An escape is exactly what Chihuly’s art brings to visitors and patients. An instant stress release from the body while a calming energy enters. The space truly gives an extraordinary and special touch that makes a difference to any individual who visits.

“I really wanted to create a space for people to meditate and find a moment of peace,” Chihuly said in an interview with Nebraska Medicine.

While the primary mission of the Healing Arts program is to provide patients a peaceful escape, tours are offered to the general public on Saturdays from 1p.m. to 2 p.m.