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  1. Young-Mason, Jeanine EdD, RN, CS, FAAN

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And so when you're working with transparent materials, when you're looking at glass, plastic, ice, or water, you're looking at light itself. The light is coming through, and you see that cobalt blue, that ruby red, whatever the color might be-you're looking at the light and the color mix together. Something magical and mystical, something we don't understand, nor should we care to understand. Sort of like trying to understand the moon. Water has magical powers and glass has magical powers. So does plastic, and so does ice." 1999, Dale Chihuly1


"The Fred and Pamela Buffet Cancer Center2 is designed to be a place of holistic healing, providing the highest level of cancer care and treatment. But healing often requires more than just treating patients medically. 'Studies have shown that creating an atmosphere of hope and resilience through artwork goes beyond curing a disease and leads to improved patient outcomes,'" Dr Kenneth Cowan, director of the project.


The project's healing arts program was launched during the planning stages, inspired by that research on the medical benefits of art and with the goal of creating environments that support and comfort patients and staff.


Elements of the program include therapeutic art, music, and poetry programs for patients; diverse art collections; and Leslie's Healing Garden, featuring heated pathways for snow melt that are wide enough to accommodate hospital beds. The program's cornerstone, though, is the 3667-ft2 Chihuly Sanctuary, which was unveiled in May 2017 before the facility opening and is home to more than 3000 handblown glass elements by world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.


The idea for the sanctuary was born during early conversations between Chihuly and Omaha philanthropist Walter Scott regarding the arts program.3 During that conversation, Scott asked Chihuly whether there was something he still wanted to do; his reply was "I want to build a chapel."



Readers are encouraged to view YouTube videos about this magnificent undertaking at the Nebraska Medical Center, which was funded by Suzanne and Walter Scott. There, you will learn more about the beginnings of the project, meet the architect and artist, see the artist and his staff creating the glass sculptures in the art studio, and witness the transformative and mysterious beauty of the Chihuly Sanctuary.


On YouTube, the Chihuly Sanctuary at the Fred and Pamela Buffet Cancer Care Center Omaha, Nebraska (all advertisements on YouTube can be skipped)


1. October 20, 2015: planning stages




2. May 19, 2017: Chihuly Sanctuary unveiled




3. July 29, 2015: Leslie's Healing Garden




4. May 22, 2017: Fred and Pamela Buffet Cancer Center Tour





In her 1888 book, Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not, Nightingale wrote about the crucial importance of beauty, color, and light in the healing process.


The effect in sickness of beautiful objects, of variety of objects and especially brilliancy of colour is hardly at all appreciated....


I have seen in fevers (and felt, when I was a fever patient myself) the most acute suffering produced in the patient[horizontal ellipsis]not being able to see out of the window, and the knots in the wood being the only view. I shall never forget the rapture of fever patients over a bunch of bright colored flowers. I remember (in my own case) a nosegay of wild flowers being sent me, and from that moment recovery becoming more rapid.


People say the effect is only on the mind. It is no such thing. The effect is on the body, too. Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by colour and light, we do know this, they have an actual physical effect.


Variety of form and brilliancy of colour in the objects presented to patients are actual means of recovery.4




1. Chihuly D. Chihuly Gardens and Glass. Seattle, WA: Portland Press; 2002:154-156. (Gardens and Glass holds 97 color photographs and personal insights from the artist plus a CD with an in-depth view of the artist at work.) [Context Link]


2. Community members, medical center employees, and other notable Nebraskans. From vision to reality. May 8, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBHAKZruMck. (The facility is the product of a joint effort between Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The sanctuary opened in June 2017 and comprises the Suzanne and Walter Scott Cancer Research Tower, C.L. Werner Cancer Hospital, and a multidisciplinary outpatient center-a collaboration of community members, medical center employees, and other notable Nebraskans.) [Context Link]


3. Carpenter B. Cancer care: House of glass: The Chihuly Sanctuary at the Fred & Pamela Buffet Cancer Center. healthcaredesignmagazine.com/projects/house/class-chihuly-sanctuary-fred-pamela-buffet-cancer-center/. Accessed March 15, 2018. (Bruce Carpenter, AIA, is senior vice president and principal-in-charge at HDR, the architectural firm for the Buffet Cancer Center.). [Context Link]


4. Nightingale F. Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott Company; 1888/1992:33-34. [Context Link]