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Healing Arts New York

A multi-venue, city-wide activation during a historic UN General Assembly. The Met, NYU, Museo Del Barrio, and MoMA were all invited to imagine a post-pandemic world prioritizing health, art, and sustainability.


Healing Arts


19 September – 14 November 2021


New York City, United States

Project Organisers


UN Affiliate

The People's Bus Celebrates Healing Arts New York

Launching with a major live-streamed event at The Metropolitan Museum, Healing Arts New York ran for three months, and included collaborations with 10 institutions. It reached an estimated audience of over 200,000 people.

19 September 2021 | Healing Arts Symposium Part One

Healing Arts New York Launch Event - The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Leading artists, policy-makers, and academics took part in this live-streamed virtual event exploring the arts as a new frontier in health, care, and wellbeing. Panels and project presentations marked the launch of Healing Arts New York, the final event of a series of 2021 global city activations to advance relationships between arts and health research, practice, and policy.

Image credit: Degrees of Separation, 2019. © Almigdad Aldikhaiiry

14 November 2021 | Healing Arts Symposium Part Two

Healing Arts New York Launch Event - The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Healing Arts Symposium brought together leaders from across culture, policy, research, and healthcare to act on the evidence base for the health benefits of the arts. As the world emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, this event affirmed what artists have always known and research is now proving – that the arts can heal.

20–21 September 2021 | Launch of Arts & Health at NYU

NYU Steindhart & MOMA

Launch of Arts & Health at NYU

Dr Nisha Sajnani (Director, Program in Drama Therapy and the Creative Arts Therapies Consortium, NYU Steinhardt, and Founding Co-Directors, JAHL) hosted the launch of Arts & Health @ NYU, a university-wide initiative designed to advance research on the benefits of the arts. A virtual launch was followed by a historic closed convening of charter collaborating centres with the WHO Arts & Health Programme at MoMA.

Image Credit: Clarion Call, 2020, © Almigdad Aldikhaiiry

22 September 2021 | The Healing Power of Art at MoMA

Meditations, Reflections, and Somatic Exercises around Art and Well-being - MoMA
Healing Power of Art event at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York

MoMA collaborated with Healing Arts on the launch of four new guided audio meditations exploring artworks in the museum’s collection. A special contribution by Christopher Bailey (Arts & Health Lead, WHO) reflected on his personal history with Claude Monet’s Water Lilies.

12 October 2021 | Convergence Preview and Panel


Netflix and WHO hosted a discussion on the film Convergence with its Oscar-winning director Orlando Von Einsiedel. The film covers the human side of the COVID-19 pandemic response, following the stories of first responders from around the world, up to and including WHO in Geneva. With unique access to WHO staff, the film bears witness to an unprecedented crisis where the world can and must come together, and the dangers when we fail to do so. The film is now available on Netflix.

15 October 2021 | New Amsterdam Cast and WHO Talk

NBC & Paleyfest

As part of the annual PaleyFest, WHO joined the cast and creators of the NBC TV show New Amsterdam to discuss the healing power of art: Beyond entertainment, does television have a beneficial role in dramatizing health stories for the public? How did the experience of the pandemic, and the way it was covered by the show, affect the cast and their audience? From a WHO perspective, what can a health-themed show do to positively influence the health of its audience? How did the real-life experience of WHO and health care workers at the point of care compare with the fictionalized version?

21 October 2021 | Advancing an Equitable Global Arts and Health Agenda: WHO Plenary

National Organization for Arts in Health 75th Annual Conference

This virtual panel discussion featured Lab Founding CO-Directors Nisha Sajnani and Christopher Bailey, as well as health expert Injonge Karangwa, political cartoonist Khalid Albaih, and author Susan Magsamen (Director, International Arts + Mind Lab, Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine). It presented efforts to advance research, practice, and policy concerning the arts and health within a framework of global health equity.

1 November 2021 | Blood/Sugar by Diana Wyenn

National Diabetes Awareness Month

To mark National Diabetes Awareness Month, Diana Wyenn (director, writer, and artist) shared her award-winning autobiographical ride on the roller coaster that is diabetes. Originally conceived for the stage, Blood/Sugar is a breath-taking virtual experience that cuts through commonly held myths, misconceptions, and stigmas surrounding diabetes in all its forms and shares how together we can collectively end the escalating diabetes pandemic and heal more than just our bodies.

14 November 2021 | The People's Bus Celebrates Healing Arts New York

The People's Bus at El Museo del Barrio

November 14th, 2021: Peoples Bus event flyer for Healing Arts New York

The People’s Bus, a community-led initiative by Yazmany Arboleda (Artist in Residence, NYC’s Civic Engagement Commission) was launched outside El Museo del Barrio with tours and live performances and a series of dances/rituals that centred on healing and joy. This event celebrated the culmination of Healing Arts New York.


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Lab Co-Director Dr. Nisha Sajnani addressing the Healing Arts Symposium, New York

21 OCT 2021 - Advancing an equitable Global Arts and Health Agenda - WHO Plenary


Lab Co-Director Stephen Stapleton aiding behind-the-scenes at the Healing Arts New York Symposium

Performance at Healing Arts Symposium at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York

BLOOD/SUGAR by Diana Wyenn

A virtual experience that cuts through the commonly held myths, misconceptions, and stigma surrounding diabetes in all its forms and shares how together we can collectively put a stop to the escalating diabetes pandemic and heal more than just our bodies.

Artist lmigdad Aldikhaiiry painting during the Healing Arts New York Symposium.

Dr. Tedros delivering a recorded message to the Healing Arts New York Symposium audience.

Performance at the Healing Arts Symposium, New York.

Healing Arts Symposium, New York



Max Hollein

Director, The Met Museum


Dr. Nisha Sajnani

Lab Co-Director

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Jack Knott

Dean, Steindhart School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

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Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Director General, WHO

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Renée Fleming

Soprano and Arts & Health Advocate


Jill Sonke

Director, Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida


Dr. Daisy Fancourt

Associate Professor of Psychobiology & Epidemiology, University College London

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Nils Fietje, PhD

Founding Co-Director, Jameel Arts & Health Lab


Susan Huganir Magsamen

Executive Director, International Arts + Midn lab

Christopher Bailey

Christopher Bailey

Lab Co-Director

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Audrey Aouzlay

Director General, UNESCO


Patrick J. Kennedy

Former Congressman and Mental Health Advocate

Healing Arts Activations

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Healing Arts Paris

Opening with a major Christie's photography sale to fund arts and mental health projects, Healing Arts Paris included discussions about wellbeing during COVID-19, and launched a major project for Yazidi cultural preservation.


9 June 2021 – 26 October 2022