Children’s Hospital Colorado patients recreate iconic Van Gogh moment at DAM


DENVER | It took Luke Lind less than a minute to dig out one of the many envelopes buried in the improvised haystack in front of the Denver Art Museum.

The scene was chaotic as Lind, 8, scrambled alongside a crowd of more than 20 other children to uncover treasures hidden in the hay. When he finally got past the dust and dirt to find the envelope, he offered a single word of celebration: “Mail!”

Lind, a new patient at the Sie Center for Down Syndrome based at the Children’s Hospital Colorado, was one of about 17 patients from Aurora to take part in the Denver Art Museum’s treasure hunt held on Aug. 15. The event saw children digging through a single haystack for envelopes containing gift certificates to local businesses and tickets to the “Becoming Van Gogh” exhibit, a show that’s set to arrive in Denver in October. The exhibition will feature 70 pieces by Vincent Van Gogh, works on loan from more than 60 public and private collections throughout Europe and North America.

Luke Lind and his mother, Rebekah Lind, weren’t focused on Van Gogh’s impact on the world of post-impressionism when they opened the envelope. Luke had come away with a gift certificate for a free stay in a local fancy hotel and a free meal at an upscale restaurant.

For the Linds, who made their first visit to the Children’s Hospital Colorado site in Aurora less than a month ago, the activity was part of a comprehensive and specialized approach to care that goes beyond the exam room.

“To know there’s an organization that’s just devoted to Down Syndrome – I got teary eyed when I first went,” said Rebekah Lind, who recently relocated to Arvada from Seattle. “It was very exciting. Even since the one time we’ve been there, I’ve already been able to call them several times for referrals about stuff.”

The event was part of a new and formal partnership between the Children’s Hospital Colorado and the Denver Art Museum, an initiative titled “Art Heals” that includes events at both sites.

For museum officials, who are expecting record crowds for the Van Gogh exhibit that’s set to run from October to January, the event was a way to recreate an iconic motif from the Dutch painter’s works for young crowds.

“One of our iconic images were the wheat fields in Arles,” said Timothy Standring, exhibition organizer and Gates Foundation Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the museum. “We’re very excited about it.”