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Danvers State Hospital Art Therapy John Gray

Shaun McNiff

Art Therapy at Danvers was shown at the Addison Gallery of American Art in December, 1972. The exhibition fulfilled Christopher Cook’s community service vision and as the museum director he simply felt “the quality of the art justified it.” Inspired by the Danvers artists, we then initiated the country’s first museum-based art therapy program at the Addison.  While countering the stigma of mental illness, the exhibition emphasized how art can heal in every person’s life. And the Boston Globe stated: “The images…eloquently…testify to the degree in which practicing an art can temper and affect the chaos of experience.”

The public response to Art Therapy at Danvers, followed by an acclaimed 1974 show featuring Priscilla and Christopher at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, influenced the international development of the arts in therapy. Reflecting back after five decades, I honor the founding role of the Danvers artists.  We thank John Gray for creating and curating this site where the life-enhancing creative expressions can be viewed again by the public and further art healing in the world.

*Shaun McNiff was invited to start the graduate program at Lesley University, which quickly grew to the world’s largest training center, after the dean viewed the Harvard showing of Art Therapy at Danvers. He is a widely published author, painter, and the recipient of many awards for his contributions to art in therapy, all of which originated at Danvers State Hospital.

Shaun McNiff

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