UMFA-U Med School Partners Invited to MOMA Forum

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Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a visitor-centered method of viewing art that values close looking and individual perspectives.

Two Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) staffers and an assistant professor in the University of Utah School of Medicine participated in an invitation-only forum about museum-medical school partnerships this month at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

On June 8 and 9, UMFA executive director Gretchen Dietrich, education and engagement director Jorge Rojas, and assistant professor Gretchen Case joined 135 select museum and medical professionals at “The Art of Examination: Art Museums with Medical Schools Partnerships.” Attendees shared information about programs and partnerships that use art to help medical students improve their diagnostic skills.

The UMFA and the medical school have partnered since 2011 on a series of “visual diagnosis” events that help medical students sharpen their skills at interpreting medical imagery by carefully examining visual art on view at the Museum. Case, who started the program, works with UMFA campus outreach coordinator Iris Moulton to guide students through the museum while teaching them the basics of the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) method of viewing art. Students then examine medical images using the strategies they’ve learned in the galleries.

“It was amazing being with such innovative leaders from both the museum education and medical fields. We learned a lot about best practices and about ways to expand our own programs, integrate new teaching methodologies, and evaluate the important work we do, which benefits physicians and patients as well as museums.” — Jorge Rojas, UMFA director of education and engagement

Rojas says he, Moulton, and Case will be exploring ways to continue the program during the UMFA’s temporary closure and will integrate ideas learned at the MOMA forum. The UMFA is temporarily closed for remodeling but is hosting educational programming elsewhere on campus, in the community, and around the state.



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