Stanley Museum of Art partners with Student Wellness and Koru Mindfulness to bring students ‘Mindfulness in the Museum’

‘Mindfulness in the Museum’ is an event series with several different activities throughout the semester, all with the goal of teaching students how to care for themselves and their mental health, no matter the challenges they may face.


Darren Chen

The sign for Mindfulness in the museum is seen at the Stanley Museum of Art, in Iowa City on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. The event happens every Friday

Emma Gaughan, Arts Reporter

Student Wellness at the University of Iowa is partnering with Koru Mindfulness and the Stanley Art Museum to teach students stress management and relaxation techniques through meditation.

The museum will host the event series called “Mindfulness in the Museum” scheduled every Friday.

“With reopening the museum, we wanted to connect with students, as they are our primary audience here on campus,” Kimberly Datchuk, Stanley curator of learning and engagement, said. “We wanted to offer programs that would be interesting and useful to them.”

As well as hosting several Koru Mindfulness sessions, which uses teachings to give students stress management techniques through meditation, the museum also hosts drop-in sessions for students to connect with the museum and relax, including the “Chill and Create” session. It allows students to draw in the galleries and attend a meditation led by an art therapist. Students can also drop-in on any Friday to participate in self-guided meditations, a drawing activity, and more.

“We’re constantly readjusting that program to fit the needs of students and take feedback into consideration,” Datchuk said.

Datchuk added that the event is supposed to end at 4 p.m., but it always goes late.

“The students come, and they are just getting so much out of it that they don’t want to leave it,” Datchuk said. “Seeing that it is something that they are really connecting to has been the most awesome part of any of our programs.”

The goal is to help students develop healthy mindsets. Spending time around art, creating art, and learning how to be more present creates healthier mindsets for students when they are overwhelmed by the all-work attitudes that follow them throughout the world, especially on a college campus.

“I think it’s important to introduce mindful habits,” student gallery host Josie Duccini said. “Especially to college students, I think that things can get really stressful, and I think that with the museum opening we’ve been promoting it as a space to come and relax and take a break between classes.”

She went on to share that mindfulness offers a similar attitude, promoting taking a break and the importance of relaxation.

“I’ve attended mindfulness through the rec center, and I’ve always really enjoyed it,” Duccini said. “The instructors are super knowledgeable, and I think it’s always useful to take care of yourself in that way.”

Visiting Stanley is just one opportunity to attend a mindfulness event, and Koru Mindfulness practices also take place through Student Wellness.

Karen Grajczyk-Haddad, UI Student Wellness senior behavioral health consultant, said while turnout at latest events has not been what they hoped, they are continuously working to make the event better for students.

“The whole practice of mindfulness is pretty great,” Grajczyk-Haddad said. “I wish every college student knew about it and practiced it.”

While most places on campus will not be open during winter break, mindfulness sessions will still happen over Zoom to help students even when they are not on campus. These virtual sessions will occur on Wednesdays over winter break.

“We’ve promoted it pretty widely, but there are still students who have never heard of it,” Grajczyk-Haddad said. “Sometimes students are like, ‘Oh I’m too busy during the semester,’ and we’re like, ‘Well can you do it over winter break?’”

After winter break, mindfulness events will continue in the spring, as they did during the fall semester.