Museum of Modern Art

Audio Guides

Launched September 2021

The Healing Power of Art

Listen to meditations, reflections, and somatic exercises around art and well-being.

Art can heal.

Last year, MoMA launched Artful Practices for Well-Being, which integrated trauma awareness into its programming, acknowledging individual and collective traumas, many of which have been exacerbated by COVID-19. One of the first projects was an audio playlist that included collaborations with a neuroscientist, a somatic experience practitioner, a therapist, a psychiatrist, educators, and mindfulness instructors.

This year, to join with Healing Arts New York, MoMA added contributions from four extraordinary collaborators: Christopher Bailey, arts and health lead at the World Health Organization; Rebecca Love, a creative arts therapist specializing in dance/movement therapy; Sabrina Sarro, a licensed master social worker; and Atira Tan, a somatic trauma specialist.

Building off of their lived experiences, professional expertise, and interests, they share ways in which art can be healing. This doesn’t mean that looking at or making art will cure someone of a physical illness or even provide relief of mental health symptoms—it’s not a substitute for a needed medication, surgery, vaccination, or treatment plan. But still, art can heal.


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Audio Meditations

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Hear Christopher Bailey reflect on his personal history with Claude Monet’s Water Lilies over many decades.

“When revisiting the Water Lilies, in my present condition—vision loss from glaucoma—I slip into a sense of completeness. Surface, depth, and reflection converge, just as past, future, and the present moment become one. And I’ve realized I’ve lost nothing. I feel no anxiety or dread. I simply luxuriate in the joy of color and celebrate this present moment. This to me is the healing power of art.”

The Monet’s Water Lilies exhibition at MoMA, September 13, 2009–April 12, 2010

Participate in a guided meditation on color in Sam Gilliam’s 10/27/69, led by Sabrina Sarro.

“I want to invite everyone to pay attention and to lean into the color all around us. Colors that we might not have language for yet. The colors that resonate with us—to really lean into the energy and the language of colors all around us.”

Sam Gilliam. 10/27/69. 1969

Experience a guided meditation on Ana Mendieta’s Nile Born, led by Atira Tan.

“What I’ve learned in my nearly two decades of work is that the body matters. And the body is key and a vital part in healing trauma…. Our bodies, which are connected to the earth, can be a deep fountain of resources and support when we learn how to access it.”

Ana Mendieta. Nile Born. 1984

Participate in somatic exercises inspired by Zilia Sanchéz’s Antigone, led by Rebecca Love.

“The mythical character Antigone, the piece’s namesake, to me signifies and validates the strength and power that bodies have, which come in all forms, shapes, colors and sizes, don’t have to fit into a mold, look, or move a certain way to be beautiful or express themselves.”

Zilia Sánchez. Antigone. 1970