Dana-Farber’s art curator brings wonder of art to patients

With the help of Arbella Insurance Group, a longtime partner of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, we acknowledge the Unsung Heroes of Dana-Farber who work behind the scenes to ensure all those who walk through our doors—patients, families, and faculty and staff—feel welcome and cared for.

For Elaine Tinetti, who manages Dana-Farber’s collection of over 2,000 contemporary art pieces, the key to making guests feel welcome is creating a tranquil and healing environment through art.

“My job is about creating opportunities for everyone who walks through our doors to experience the wonder of art,” says Tinetti, who coordinates art pieces throughout the Longwood Medical Area campus and Dana-Farber’s community centers.

That wonder can take many shapes. With art hanging anywhere patients are traveling—such as waiting rooms, exam rooms, hallways, infusion rooms—the right piece can help distract a patient from the wait for an appointment, long treatment sessions, or even their hospital surroundings entirely. Above all, for Tinetti and the Art and Environment Committee, a program of the Friends of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the art reduces stress and promotes healing.

While Tinetti oversees the logistical planning, acquisition, and installation of the art pieces, she acknowledges that the body of people who make it happen extends far beyond herself.

“Besides working with the committee to review pieces, in a typical day I work with Dana-Farber’s architects, project managers, carpenters, locksmiths, maintenance, building supervisors, movers, environmental health and safety, security, and many others,” she says. “That list also includes, of course, artists, galleries, plaque makers, framers, installers, donors, and caregivers.”

For Tinetti, curating an inviting space is personal, as her daughter, Nicole, once received treatment and care at Dana-Farber. After Nicole passed, Tinetti began volunteering for the Friends of Dana-Farber, and after a few months, she was hired for an administrative position in Volunteer Services. In 2006, following an expansion of the Institute’s facilities, Tinetti was recruited for the newly created Art Program Administrator position, a post she has held ever since.

For people who may question why art is so important in an environment like this, Tinetti shares a powerful memory: “A few months after moving the art collection previously installed in the Charles Dana Building to the new Yawkey Center for Cancer Care, a nurse called my office hoping to find art gifted by one of her patients. I called the nurse to let her know I had located the piece and to ask if she would like me to give her patient a tour of the collection. She replied, ‘Thank you, but no. My patient died five years ago. Every year on the anniversary of her death, I visit her artwork to reflect and remember.”

The therapeutic value of art is something Elaine Tinetti and the Friends of Dana-Farber believe in wholeheartedly—part of why she has done the work for almost two decades—as well as its role in helping drive forward Dana-Farber’s mission to defy cancer by creating a healing environment for patients and families.

When asked what it means to work at Dana-Farber and support that lifesaving mission, Tinetti had just one word: “Everything.”

Be an Unsung Hero for patients at Dana-Farber by donating to the Jimmy Fund today. Eligible Massachusetts donors who give $50 or more may save 6% on their Arbella auto policy. We encourage you to contact your local Massachusetts auto insurance agent for more details.

Join Elaine in her dedication to patients by supporting The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign and how you can get involved at DefyCancer.org.