The art of saving a life

Giorgio de Chirico's portrait of Dr. Albert C. Barnes Image courtesy of The Barnes Foundation

Giorgio de Chirico's portrait of Dr. Albert C. Barnes

Image courtesy of The Barnes Foundation

Philadelphia is fortunate to have an institution like The Barnes Foundationa unique arts organization with one of the finest collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintingsas a member of the community. They are committed to arts education because they know that a strong foundation in the arts can help a child approach problems creatively. We agreewe need more inquisitive and creative minds in the workforce which is why we announced a unique partnership between GSK and The Barnes last year, bringing arts education to disadvantaged kids in the School District of Philadelphia. We know that creative thinkers will help solve our most pressing problems—especially in science, technology, and healthcare.

The Barnes Foundation also realizes that there are many factors that contribute to a healthy community, so we were glad to see them lend their voice to the discussion around a new online campaign, The Art of Saving a Life, sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The campaign promotes vaccination through the work of 30 world-renowned photographers, painters, sculptors, writers, filmmakers, and musicians. The full collection of art will be unveiled throughout this month. The Barnes shared this portrait of Dr. Albert C. Barnes, the founder of the collection, by Girogio de Chirico. You can follow the discussion on twitter using #VaccinesWork.

The Barnes’ connection to this issue is interesting. At the turn of the 20th century, Dr. Barnes was a physician and pharmacologist who worked for H.K. Mulford and Company, makers of a smallpox vaccine. He knew that vaccines were a great development in public health. I imagine that if Dr. Barnes were alive today, he would be impressed not only by the millions of lives saved through vaccination, but also by the way art—Dr. Barnes’ true passion—is being used to educate people and approach a problem creatively.