Published on May 16, 2018

Art Gives Cancer Patients a Break from Treatment Routine

Kathleen uses her computer to navigate the Genie robot at the Figge MuseumThe drugs Kathleen Johnson needs to battle leukemia can result in tedious, sometimes uncomfortable sessions of four hours in the infusion center of Genesis Cancer Care Institute in Davenport.

Johnson, of East Moline, also has spent four months in the hospital since last July.

On Mondays when she is scheduled to receive infusions, Johnson can look forward to enjoyable tours of the Figge Art Museum without leaving Genesis.

In 2015, Genesis Health System sponsored the purchase of Genie, a BeamPro communications system used by the Figge in a pilot project to take the museum’s displays remotely to people who might not otherwise be able to visit.

Genesis and the Figge have teamed up with Quad Cities-based Living Proof Exhibit to provide therapeutic benefits of the arts to people impacted by cancer.

“Having cancer can be very isolating. This is a way patients are able to escape by having us bring the art to them,’’ explained Pamela Crouch, executive director of Living Proof Exhibit and a 10-year cancer survivor herself.

“This is a pilot project we hope can be expanded to other cancer centers in the region.’’

Virtual Tours

Kathleen smiles as she continues to explore the museum remotelyJohnson has taken the virtual tours of the Figge Art Museum on several Mondays when she receives her infusion treatments.

“It can be a real chore going through cancer treatment. I think this helps me relax during my chemo sessions,’’ Johnson said. “It’s also very interesting. You can learn a lot about the art and the artists.’’

Genesis cancer and infusion patients can see the tour guide in the Figge and make comments and ask questions.

On a recent Monday, Johnson was visiting a gallery called American Scene. The particular gallery has a focus on rural scenes referred to as Regionalism.

Patient Controls Tour

Patients control what they want to see and how close they want to see it. From a laptop computer, they can direct the movements of Genie. A Figge staff member or docent serves as guide to the artwork.

“We’re glad to see you out and about in the community instead of being in a hospital,’’ Heather Aaronson of the Figge staff said to Johnson.

Sitting with Johnson was Brooke Wessel, a graduate student in museum studies at Western Illinois University who works at the Figge, and Crouch.

In a tour session of about 45 minutes, Johnson saw works by Grant Wood; Thomas Hart Benton; Iowan Marvin Cone, another contemporary of Wood; Doris Lee, a 1940s artist from Aledo, Ill., and late Quad Cities artists Isabel and John Bloom.

Living Proof Exhibit presents an annual exhibition celebrating the creative spirit of cancer survivors. This year the exhibition will be displayed in the Mary Waterman Gildehaus Community Gallery at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, from September 6 to December 9, 2018.

To learn more about Living Proof Exhibit, go to

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