Students engage with each other and with artwork by "Crip*" exhibition at KAM. Photo by Della Perrone.

Last year, we embarked on a search for what wellness meant for us at Krannert Art Museum. We wanted to stretch the idea of wellness and ground it in intersectionality and inclusivity; after all, ‘well’ is a subjective idea often relying on privilege.

We started with the questions: Who can be well? Whom do we leave out when we’re thinking about ‘everyone’s’ well-being?

Opening up this conversation to more perspectives felt like the best approach. With the intention of building new partnerships and strengthening current ones, we contacted organizations on and off campus, inviting them to a small Wellness Working Group. As a group, we value trust and generosity; we ask questions about wellness programming approaches, support each other’s efforts, and dream about future collaborations.

The education team at KAM was inspired by work we recently experienced in the museum. Do You Want Us Here Or Not? by Shannon Finnegan, a bench that underscores the physical challenges of standing, invited us to reconsider the able-bodied museum experience.

KAM’s 2019–2020 exhibition Homemade, With Love: More Living Room curated by Dr. Blair Ebony Smith, a joyful, creative environment built by and for Black girls, brought the ease of domestic life to the museum.

As a first wellness program created in the new framework, we piloted Rest Lab, a week-long space in the Contemporary Gallery for intentional rest. Disturbing the museum’s typically serious energy, the space provided a playful invitation to focus on feeling good.

We experimented with two modes of rest: active rest engaged the mind in creative, low stakes, and cooperative ways and quiet rest allowed the mind and body to slow down with dim lights and soft surfaces to lie down on.

Rest Lab will take place once or twice a year, each time exploring a different kind or approach to rest.

With these programs as our starting point, we continue working towards inclusive, intersectional, and holistic spaces of rest, care,and well-being.