Rx/Museum: 52 Essays on Art and Reflection in Medicine

Levy, AaronHoy, Lyndsay

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Collection (Essays)

Annotated by:
Lam, MD, Gretl
  • Date of entry: Sep-12-2022


During the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of curators and clinicians from the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Slought Foundation, and Penn Medicine started the Rx/Museum project with the goal of creating an online medical humanities experience to support healthcare providers. The project championed the role of art in the training and wellbeing of clinicians, and aimed to foster connection, reflection, and humanistic learning during a time of immense trauma and isolation. Rx/Museum began as a series of essays that were originally emailed on a weekly basis from July 2020 to June 2021. These 52 essays were later published together in a book.

The Rx/Museum book features a foreword and afterword by the editors describing the philosophy of the project and explaining the importance of art in medical education, along with the 52 essays published in chronological order. Each essay focuses on an individual artwork including paintings, photographs, and film stills. The essays are structured in a uniform manner, starting with a thematic quote, followed by a description of the artwork that provides an historical context and highlights visual features, then a print of the artwork, and finally a series of reflections which connect the artwork with issues in healthcare.


Rx/Museum is a wonderful example of collaboration and integration of the arts, humanities, and medicine to teach or renew a sense of empathy, connection, and new perspective. The essays strike a successful balance of being accessible to those who have no prior knowledge of art history, while also engaging those who are well-versed in medical humanities and are seeking fresh inspiration. The prompts at the end of each essay challenge readers to consider diverse topics related to medicine, ranging from social injustice, to friendship, to the patient-clinician relationship. Many of the reflections also specifically address the challenges brought on by COVID-19, and will continue to be relevant as healthcare workers face the aftermath of the pandemic. This is especially true of clinicians struggling with burnout, who might find meaning and sustainability in their future work through the lens of art.


Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Slought Foundation, Penn Medicine, and Health Ecologies Lab

Place Published

Philadelphia, PA




Lyndsay Hoy, Aaron Levy

Page Count