Lisa Mulvaney

Lisa Mulvaney

Lisa Mulvaney is the coordinator of the Creative Arts Program at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and a certified child life specialist. She was involved in the planning stages of the art that graces the hospitals beautiful interiors and initially recruited 23 community partners and challenged them to develop artwork for Lurie Children’s Hospital that encouraged healing and celebrated Chicago’s culture. Each was paired with a different hospital floor or space and asked to create several types of artwork. The outcome was a hospital filled with art that is a pleasure to behold. On each in-patient floor, a large entrance display welcomes children and families and certainly helps to provide a healing and supportive environment to patients, families and their care teams.

The importance of art in the hospital setting is one that both Lisa and Lurie Children’s Hospital understand and they strive to always improve the experience for both the patients and staff. 

One way they continue to improve the patient experience is by having a Kids Advisory Board, which Lisa Mulvaney runs. The Kids Advisory Board consists of twelve patients from diverse backgrounds and different medical services. Members are selected based on their openness and ability to think beyond their own experiences to help make the hospital better. She also helps facilitate the Lurie Children’s Family Advisory Board.  Both of these groups played a vital role in the planning of Lurie Children’s, and both groups continue to provide integral feedback. 

Lisa also works diligently to provide art opportunities to the Lurie Children’s amazing staff. She first introduced the National Arts Program® to their hospital in 2014 and has coordinated the exhibit for these past four years. Their NAP Employee and Family Art Exhibit is on display now through February and includes an incredible 162 pieces of art. We can’t thank Lisa enough for her hard work and dedication to making this show a success. She is a tremendous coordinator and we reached out to her recently to ask her more about her interest in displaying the talents of the hospital staff and their families.

Q. How did you hear about the National Arts Program®?

A. I heard about the NAP from another Coordinator, who has been running the NAP at University of Chicago Hospitals for many years.

Q. What prompted you to join the National Arts Program® and bring this opportunity to the employees and their family

A. Lurie Children’s saw the opportunity to provide this program to our employees as an amazing opportunity.  It provides the opportunity to for everyone to participate in an exhibit, as well as creating a beautiful environment in our staff corridors which used to be bare.

Q.  What makes the National Arts Program® different from any other art exhibit at Lurie Children’s?

A. The NAP art exhibit is one of a kind as it is the only place where we have artwork from our employees, physicians and their families on display. There are artists who have submitted every year that we have had the exhibit.  The NAP has created a community of artists within Lurie Children’s.

Q. Why do you feel that displaying employee artwork is important?

A. I feel that displaying employee artwork is important because it provides an opportunity for staff to share their talents and be recognized for something they do in addition to their role at the hospital.  We have a huge Youth & Teen gallery each year and this provides an opportunity for our employees’ children to also feel a part of the Lurie Children’s community.

Q. How have employees and their families responded to the opportunity to display their artwork in the hospital?

A. We have had an increasingly large response each year to the opportunity to display the artwork of our employees and their families.  Many families look forward each year to submitting their pieces for the exhibit. 

Q. Why do you think displaying artwork in this setting is so important?

A. Working in a pediatric healthcare setting can be very stressful and emotional.  The NAP exhibit provides an opportunity for staff and their families to share their passions and talents from outside of the workplace, as well as some motivation to create more art.  Our exhibit is unique in that it stays up for 10 months, which fills our staff corridors with beautiful artwork.

Q. What is your favorite aspect of the National Arts Program®?

A. My favorite aspect of the National Arts Program is the reactions we receive once the new exhibit is installed each year.  We receive so many positive comments during our installation days about how happy everyone is to see a new exhibit go back up in the corridors.  When we take the show down each year after the 10 month period, staff really miss seeing all the artwork and that gets mentioned.

Q. Is coordinating the NAP exhibit something that would fall into your daily job responsibilities? If not, how is it different?

A. I coordinate our Creative Arts Program at Lurie Children’s, which means that I help create healing spaces in the built environment, both in our patient and family areas, as well as staff spaces.  The coordination of the NAP exhibit fits nicely in this role. 

Q. Do visitors to the hospital respond to the employee exhibit?

A. When visitors are in the exhibit corridors we get a very positive reaction and questions about the NAP program and how it works.

Q. How has utilizing online registration made the process easier for you?

A. Having the registration online makes for a smooth process when coordinating artwork drop off, labels, certificates, Printed Program and awarding prizes to the winners in each category.

Q. Can you tell us how art has had a positive impact on your personal life?   

A. Being surrounded by art and artists brings a great deal of positive energy to me personally.  I encourage it with my two children and have seen the positive impact it has on their self-esteem and expressiveness.  I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to interact with so many talented artists and curate a new show each year.   In our patient and family spaces, the joy I see and comments we receive reminds me of how incredibly important art is in the healthcare environment. 

Q. How did you get started in the art field or have you always been involved in the arts?

A. My background is in Child Development and I have a great deal of experience as a Child Life Specialist.  Using the arts in the hospital environment is particularly important because many of our patients and their families are in crisis and under a great deal of stress.  Bringing the arts into our patient/family experience, as well as creating a healing arts physical environment are areas in which I have been involved for a long time.

Q. Are you an artist yourself? If so, what is your favorite medium or subject?  Did you enter the NAP show?

A. I am not an artist, but my two sons, Jack and Samuel, have participated in all four of our exhibits at Lurie Children’s.  They both enjoy all types of art.

Q. Is there anything else you want to add? Comments about the program, etc.

A. Lurie Children’s is very grateful to the National Arts Program for their support of our exhibits for the past four years.  It is a very unique program and we are so fortunate to be a part of the NAP community.